Honey bees are highly desirable due to their pollination, honey and wax. However there are times and places where honey bees may a nuisance, and for sting-sensitive individuals, a health threat. One such incidence is when honey bees swarm.
Swarming is response to crowding within the colony. Swarming usually occurs in late spring and early summer and begins in the warmer hours of the day.
Honey bee swarms under most circumstances pose no danger. The bees feed prior to swarming, reducing their ability to sting. Further, bees away from the vicinity of their nest where offspring and food stores are located are less defensive and are unlikely to sting unless disturbed and irritated.
Bees - What To Look For
Honey bee swarms usually contain several hundred to several thousand worker bees, a few drones and one queen. The bees fly around briefly and then cluster on a tree limb, shrub or other objects.
The swarm usually remains stationary between as little as an hour but up to a few days, depending on weather and how long it takes scouting bees to find a suitable nest location. When a suitable location for the new colony is found the swarm breaks up and flies to it.
Bees - What To Do
When a honey bee swarm is found on a tree, shrub or house you do not need to do anything in most situations as the swarms are temporary and the bees will move on if you patiently ignore them. Stay back and keep others away from the swarm until it moves on.
If a health threat is present because of the location of the swarm, such as in a heavily used public area, then you should seek professional help. An experienced beekeeper may be willing to gather the swarm. Please remember that swarming honey bees often have diseases and parasites that will be difficult for beekeepers to manage and most beekeepers will not remove honey bee colonies from inside of buildings.If you notice a swarm of honey bees has made your house’s siding, chimney or soffits their home, then it is better to hire a pest professional to treat them before they become established and begin to produce honey.
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