A swarm is a unit of bees containing one queen and about 10,000 worker bees. After the swarm leaves the home colony, it flies to a nearby tree, bush, fencepost, streetlight, etc, and clusters in a ball, hanging from their resting place. The cluster is homeless; its’ main challenge is to find a new place to live, like a tree cavity, or a hole in another structure. While clustered, the bees engage in a fascinating, democratic decision-making process to choose from one of the many potential home sites that the scout bees have located from miles around.
NPR did a great short segment on this process, which you can listen to here. Honey bees in a swarm are gentle. If left undisturbed, a swarm will locate to new quarters within a period as short as a few hours or as long as a few days. When they find a new home, they’ll disappear from your property as quickly as they appeared.
For more information about honey bee swarms and honey bee behavior, see Dr. Tom Seeley’s enthralling videos, produced for NPR’s Science Friday by Carl Flatow.
Whether you are a beekeeper, homeowner, or property manager see below for help responding to a swarm.
If you see a swarm, please contact a Beekeeper to remove the swarm without harming the bees, and relocate them to a better location where they won’t be in conflict with humans. You will also need a Beekeeper to remove unwanted bees from a building or structure. (Find a list of available and trained Beekeepers in the “I NEED HELP” section below.)
If you are a beekeeper and want to read more about Spring Management to prevent swarms, click here.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, we have resources to help!
Help! I’m a new beekeeper and my bees have swarmed!
What do I do?
You may contact a club mentor, board member, or send a descriptive email, including contact information to EMBA and we’ll try to help guide you in the right direction.
Help! I am not a beekeeper and I have discovered a swarm!
Click below for a list of EMBA members who capture swarms.
Help! I have a beehive that I want removed: in my yard; inside my building, house, wall, roof, etc.
Click below for a list of EMBA members who remove bees that have established themselves within structures.
Are you a member of EMBA? Visit our forum to discuss swarms and ask swarm management questions.
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