Those of you who follow us on Facebook or Instagram know that as soon as there is a hint of Spring, we are asking you to watch for bee swarms. Maybe you think it's because we want ALL the bees we can possibly get...you're not wrong; we're a little obsessed. But, we also want to make sure that swarms end up in a safe place.
Before we get to THAT, let's talk about swarms and what makes them happen:
Survival of species. Bees are motivated to grow and reproduce. Splitting into two colonies promotes this natural growth and and reproduction. Two queens create twice as many bees.
Overcrowding. Swarms will happen when a colony outgrows the space it currently has. Beekeepers spend a lot of time in the spring trying to prevent their hives from doing this.
So, then what...
Once a hive decides to swarm, it will make queen cells. This new queen may stay behind with the current hive OR it may go with the swarm...there's no way to tell how they decide who stays and who goes.
Before the new queen arrives, scout bees search for the best home to move into. The decision of where swarms move into has become the study of many because the bees have there own calculations and methods that don't always seem to make sense.
Once the bees are ready to swarm, they don't waste any time. They exit the hive in a hurry and all take off at once. It's pretty cool to watch.
Most pictures of swarms are on a branch or fence post (sometimes even on the ground); this is not their final destination but more of a resting spot to give the queen a break. This can be a few minutes, a few hours or sometimes a few days...which is why, when we get a swarm call, we tend to drop everything in hopes of making it there before the swarm moves on.
When we're lucky, swarms move into swarm boxes or the empty hives of beekeepers...BEST CASE SCENARIO!!! But, they also move into garages, homes, outbuildings, hollow trees, etc...AND if the owners don't want them there, they may decided to kill the bees instead of getting them removed (which can be very tricky anyways). OR, something happens to the queen during the swarming process and then the homeless bees just disband.
Bees are such important pollinators, and there survival and growth has become one of our missions. So, if you're out and you see a ball of bees on a branch, don't panic...they're not usually aggressive when homeless. But give us a call or send us a message; we have plenty of room to give them a brand new home.