By Linda Harper, The Honeybee Conservancy
June 3, 2014
April through July is prime swarm season across the US. Honey bee swarming is a natural phenomenon that increases the species. Exasperated beekeepers around the world have labored tirelessly trying to find some way to keep bees at home. Last year my hives swarmed several times, always stopping in the top of my 70 foot pine tree to rest before flying on to their final destination. Those crafty girls know I’m too old and tired to climb up and catch them. I’ve tried to keep them from swarming over the years, using hypothetically tried and true methods. However, I’ve come to terms with it; when the collective minds of the colony vote to swarm; indeed they will.
I believe it’s this time of year when many beekeepers lament that someone else has ended up with their bees. It’s heartbreaking to see them fly away, especially if it is a productive colony and a prized queen. Non-beekeepers won’t understand what I’m about to say…but beekeeping is personal. It’s that personal relationship that keeps his or her hives in top shape, who systematically check their hives to insure all are healthy and well.
The natural prerogative of a swarm is to discover that perfect hollow tree to begin anew. So why do they occasionally end up in the most unnatural spaces; homes, barns, sheds, or under a grill?
While suitable shelter or previous bee problems can be the primary cause for a swarm on your property, it can be difficult to determine the exact attractant. Other reasons can include favorable climates or abundant vegetation, since bees prefer to be within close proximity of a food source. A bee swarm can be caused by one of these factors, a combination, or none of the above.
A recent analysis of swarm removal stastics was conducted to identify which areas were most susceptible. Coastal zones that generally have temperate climates and towns within close proximity to rural areas and farmlands appear to be more prone to having honey bee swarms that need to be removed.
Where bees choose to gravitate is generally out of our control. However, you can assume that if bees have been to your property before, you’re prone to future visits, so be sure to take preventative measures to keep them from returning.
You ask, just what can be done? If bees have moved in on your home, carefully locate the entry point. Call the Conservancy and we will help you decide what can be done. Please don’t have them exterminated as they have reached a crises status. We can help with some extractions and if not, we have sources that can remove them with minimal inconvenience. Most situations can be resolved safely and hopefully permanently. Our goal is to save the honeybee; we never charge a fee, and the bees will get a safe and caring home. We respect the honeybee, her innate desire for nest warmth and smell. We never use chemicals, smoke or sugar/corn syrup. Her health and sustainability are our primary concern.
If you see a swarm, please call us: 419-947-9436, 419-253-3987 or 614-563-4688.