Honey bee swarms (May 3, 2013)

Here is a timely guest post from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension entomologists Dr. Mike Merchant, Janet Hurley and Wizzie Brown who have teamed up to educate people about the honey bee swarms that have been prevalent this spring. A very nice article is posted here.

Bee swarms consist of a group of bees clustered together.  The cluster often rests on items such as tree limbs, fences, mailboxes, or bushes.  A swarm may stay in the same location for a few hours to several weeks. Swarms are produced as a part of the colony’s reproductive process.  An established colony produces a new queen, causing the old queen and about half the worker bees to leave the colony and search for a new nest location.  Scout bees are sent out from the swarm to search the area for a nesting site.  Swarming honey bees are usually gentle and unlikely to sting. While bee swarms are generally harmless, bee colonies that get into the home can become an expensive problem. Now is an excellent time to check your home for holes and gaps that need filling, BEFORE the bees move in. In most cases, a bee swarm will move on within a day or two and you’ll never see it again. On the other hand, if one of the colony’s scout bees discovers a good nest site nearby, the swarm could become a long-term neighbor or take up more or less permanent residence in your home. For this reason, many people choose to call a pest control company or beekeeper to kill or collect bee swarms that settle near their house.

Honey bee swarm. Photo Credit: Jacques Murphy.

Beekeeper removing the swarm. Photo Credit: Jacques Murphy.