Swarms

Honey bee swarms are fascinating. It was collecting a swarm that really got me hooked on beekeeping.

Bees swarm when the hive starts to get too crowded – they make a new queen, and up to half of the colonly leaves with one of the queens. The bees land on a tree branch, or other surface nearby, while scout bees go out to look for a new home.

If you see a swarm in your area, please don’t call pest control. Swarms aren’t dangerous. The bees are typically docile, as they’ve just filled up on honey before they leave the hive. It is really the bees that are in danger, as they’ll die in a few days if they don’t find a new home. Please try the following when you see a swarm:

  • Call 911 to see if they have a Swarm List – our local county does
  • Call a local beekeeping group to see if one of their members can help
  • Call the local county exension office to see if they know of a local beekeeper

In the spring and summer of 2010, I had the opportunity to see and collect several swarms. Here are the highlights:

May, 2010 – Swarm in downtown Buffalo, NY

I saw this swarm in downtown Buffalo – on Virginia. I saw the swarm headed up the street when returning to the car from having lunch with friends. This swarm was collected by John, a local beekeeper, later that day. Thanks, John, for saving that swarm!

swarm1-buffalo

May, 2010 – Swarm at Local Subaru Dealer – Gorst, WA

The local car dealer had a swarm in the back of their business. This was the second swarm that week! Here they are on the branch.

swarm2-subaru1

The bees are knocked off of the branch into the box. The box is set near the branch, so the others can join them.

swarm2-subaru2-1

Several hours later, all of the bees are inside.

swarm2-subaru3

July, 2010 swarm in Southworth, WA

These bees swarmed from one of my own hives. I was able to collect them and make a new colony.

Here they are just getting started… thousands of bees in the air. They’re headed to that tree in the foreground.

swarm3-southworth1

More of the bees are around the tree, and they’re starting to gather in the tree.

swarm3-southworth2

Here they are settled in the tree, waiting for the scout bees to find a new home. I’ll help them by knocking them into a box and setting up a new home for them.

swarm3-southworth3-1