Bee Swarm Facts
You will never forget the first time you see a honey bee swarm. It is a thrilling sight. Thousands of bees in flight, the mass moves through the air heading for a new home. Honey bee swarming is an amazing natural event in the life of bees.
What is a Bee Swarm?
First of all, honey bee swarms are the most natural things in the world. This is a common activity that happens anywhere you find honey bee colonies.
When a colony swarms, about half of the population leaves to make a new hive in another location.
The mother hive retains enough worker bees to continue the work of the original colony and to make a new queen bee.
This is a natural part of bee colony growth. Colonies that swarm are generally healthy bees just doing their “bee thing”.
Why do Bees Swarm?
Honey bee colonies swarm, in order to reproduce on the colony level. Where there was 1 large colony, now there are 2 smaller colonies.
By traveling a distance away from the mother hive, the bees are able to spread out over a larger region. This allows for less competition for food and other resources.
Why do Beekeepers Strive to Prevent Swarms?
Colonies that swarm produce less excess honey. It’s hard to see half of our bees fly away for parts unknown.
Beekeepers invest a lot of time into techniques to reduce or prevent swarming. Do they work? Sometimes…
But often, the colony will swarm anyway. Then, we hope the original hive will be able to make a new queen from queen cells left behind.
This seemingly reckless behavior by honey bees has worked well for millions of years. Still, we beekeepers go to great lengths to prevent swarming.
Are Swarms Dangerous?
No, in general honey bee swarms are very docile. The bees do not have any stored food or baby bees to guard. There are in a transition phase with all of their thoughts on getting to their new home.
That does not mean that a honey bee swarm will fail to protect itself. If you see a swarm, observe them from a respectful distance.
Do not allow children to play too close or throw rocks or sticks at the bees.
In most cases, the swarm will leave for their new home by the next day. If they do not, it is time to call a local beekeeper.
When do Bee Swarms Occur?
Honey bees can swarm during any of the warmer months. However, you will see the most swarms during Spring.
Spring is a time of growth for the honey bee colony. Their focus is on building a large work force that will be able to make and store a lot of honey for Winter.
During this time of plentiful food, the colony may decide to divide and create a new hive.
Conclusion: Learning how to deal with honey bees involves understanding their natural tendencies. This is the true art of beekeeping.
If you are lucky enough to see a natural honey bee swarm, enjoy the view. It is a wonderful natural process of our bees.