Winter clustered honeybees have been waiting patiently for warmer and longer days. Well, the time has come, the rain has passed, and swarms are beginning to take flight this spring. Here's what you need to know!
What is a swarm and how do I identify it?
A swarm is identified as a large cluster of bees without having yet built honeycomb or a nest. Swarms will land and take flight frequently as they find their ideal home. In the air, a swarm is hard to miss, thousands of bees will swoop back and forth in order to follow the queen's pheromone. Once landed, the cluster of bees will hang off one another in what looks like a big buzzing pineapple.
Why do bees swarm?
A swarm at its core is the mitosis of the colony. Hives in the spring grow as more pollen and nectar from the flowers become available. The queen starts laying eggs at max capacity, the bee population skyrockets, and things get cramped! The queen will then go from a heavier egg laying state, down to a leaner flying weight as the hive prepares to swarm. Eventually, she will fly out from the hive and any bee capable of flying engorges on honey and follows her out in order to build a new home. The queen doesn't fly as frequently as the others and will land and take off multiple times as they send scouting bees out to find the best suitable hive location.
What should I do?
I highly recommend calling a professional beekeeper like myself to rescue and relocate the swarm to a safe place where they'll have the best chance of thriving. This also prevents the bees from establishing a hive in an unwanted space. Once a swarm begins construction of the nest, the bees become much more defensive and difficult to rescue. Having a swarm professionally removed is the best for us and the bees.