What to Do With a Swarm of Bees

If you find a swarm of bees, here are some dos and don’ts:

1. Don’t spray swarms with pesticide. Bees are beneficial insects and should not be exterminated. Moreover, even though the bees are not aggressive during swarming, you run the risk of getting stung if you try to spray them.

2. Do contact a beekeeper. Swarms are valuable to beekeepers because they can be used to start new hives, so beekeepers will often come collect a swarm free of charge. If you don’t know any beekeepers, please contact us and we will come to your rescue: 541-914-2225

3. Avoid disturbing the swarm. The bees will eventually leave once they have identified a new permanent home.

More About Swarms

Swarming is part of the reproductive cycle in honey bees. Though honey bees reproduce individual bees through mating and egg-laying, swarming is how honey bees create new colonies.

The process of swarming involves production of a new queen within an individual colony. When this new queen emerges, the old queen leaves the hive and takes approximately one-half of the workers in that colony with her. This mass or “swarm” of bees will usually congregate on a tree limb, fence post, or on the side of a building near the original hive.

While the bees are in this swarm, some workers are sent out to search for a suitable place to start a new hive. We call these particular workers “scouts.” When some of the scouts have found a favorable site for a new hive (such as a hollow tree), they report back to the swarm and then the swarm leaves the swarming site to go to the new hive.

Swarming season can begin in the latter part of March in some areas and can last through the first of June. Some of you may have the opportunity to find a swarm this spring. You may find a clump of bees that can range from about the size of a softball to as large or larger than a basketball. You may find them on a tree limb, in a shrub, on a fence post or on the side of a building. If you find a swarm, the best thing that you can do is leave it alone. Honey bees, that are in a swarm, are not aggressive because they have no hive to defend at this time. These bees, however, should only be handled by an experienced beekeeper.

Swarms may stay on a swarming site for as little as 15 minutes or for several days or more. It depends on the length of time it takes for the scouts to find a new hive. So when you see a swarm, keep in mind that they will not be on that site permanently.