Swarms

Licensed Honey Bee Swarm Removal and Beekeeping Services in OC

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Swarms can often be found clumped onto tree branches.

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Swarms can be found on almost any random object. In this picture they have landed on a luggage cart at John Wayne Airport!

Swarms

First of all, DON’T PANIC if you’re seeing a swarm of bees.  Generally swarms of bees are fairly docile and not looking to sting anyone.  When a bee colony gets too big for its existing space they swarm to send excess population to start new colonies. Occasionally the entire population of a colony “absconds” due to undesireable conditions, and absconding swarms can be much more prone to stinging, so it is best to stay on the safe side and give them their space.  Swarms have a tendency to stop and rest on just about anything they can find, especially trees.  If left alone, they will probably move on within 1 to 3 days time.

Each swarm will have one queen bee in it.  In preparation for swarming the mother colony starts raising new queens. When the new queens hatch, one of the queens will leave with a portion of the bees to find a new home. Typically, the older queen leaves with the swarm. In the case of Africanized bees this can happen multiple times a day during the spring or other good weather conditions.

Swarms can come in a range of sizes. When they land you may see a cluster the size of a grapefruit on the small end up to the size of a basketball on the larger end. Sometimes a swarm will look conical in shape. While the swarm is resting scout bees will be coming and going from it looking for a good location for a more permanent home. They will be looking for a hollow cavity such as a wall void or roof, because they do not like to nest out in the open where they are not protected from the elements. It is a good idea to keep a close eye on your property after a swarm passes, but remember that the presence of a swarm doesn’t necessarily mean they will decide to nest anywhere close to you. See Colonies.

Do NOT attempt to convince these bees to leave or ‘hurry them up’ by spraying them with water or household bug sprays, smoking them or other silly ideas from the Internet. They are highly organized and will not leave until their scouts have come back to tell them where they are going. Disturbing them in this state will only cause confusion and a mess — picture that mass of bees flying all around the area, because that’s what’s going to happen!  Also note that if the queen bee is damaged and she cannot fly, they will not leave her behind! If you are not comfortable waiting for them to leave on their own give us a call!

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You might even receive bees in the mail!

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A swarm often forms a clump shape. It is also is not uncommon to find them more spread out such as in this photo.

Scout Bees

Scout bees are very fascinating and illustrate just how smart bees are.  Scout bees will go out ahead of a swarm to find new nesting locations. They check the area for size, temperature, etc. These bees utilize amazing communication methods. They use the sun to navigate, and communicate using pheromones (smells) produced by their bodies. These are nature’s perfumes, and are undetectable to humans. They even do dances for each other to illustrate directions!

Sometimes a few scouts on your property will result in no major situation at all, but sometimes they decide to bring all their friends to the party at your house! If you see bees in a particular location for more than a couple days it is time to call a professional. Once the whole swarm shows up and moves in they will get to work pretty quick!  It will only take a few days for the girls to start building some combs. To help identify if you have a problem look for ‘direct flight’ where the bees are disappearing into a cavity space. It will appear like freeway traffic in and out of a specific location like a crack or a crevice. Deterrent treatments in scouting situations can be done to help prevent the swarm from arriving.