Spring is honeybee swarm season. There will be more swarms during this time than any other point in the year. But what is a swarm? Generally, people are frightened when they see a cloud of bees flying through a neighborhood, or a cluster of bees hanging near their home or work. Thankfully, swarms are typically very docile. Here are some answers to common swarm questions.
If you have a bee swarm or live colony that needs to be removed in Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Spring Hill Tennessee or surrounding areas , please call or text 615-289-7334. Alternatively, you can fill out the form below, but calling or texting will be the fastest response.
What is a swarm?
A swarm is a population of bees that has left an established hive in search of a new home. Studies show that approximately 70% of the bees leave their established colony when they swarm. The swarm is made up of a majority of worker bees and their queen.
Why do they swarm?
This is a bit complicated, so I'll simplify where necessary for brevity. Swarms occur as part of the process of the queen of the colony being naturally replaced. Queen bees can lay over 1500 eggs per day in their peak productivity. Experts say that queens are most productive for up to 3 years, and then their productivity begins to decrease. The entire colony, 60,000 bees, is aware of the queen's strength based on the amount of pheromone the queen releases. Bees are social insects and communicate and exist in close proximity to each other. As the queen releases her unique pheromone, her 'scent' passes through the colony like a wave, being passed from bee to bee so that the entire colony is aware of how strong the queen is. As she ages, she produces less of her pheromone which queues the colony to begin rearing a new queen. The queen lays an egg in a specially designed cell suited for a queen. The nurse bees feed the growing larvae a special diet, which is what causes it to develop the organs the queen needs to lay eggs.
A short time after the new queen hatches, 70% of the colony along with the old queen depart the hive in search of a new home. That's the cluster of bees you see hanging from the tree in your backyard.
Why do they cluster?
After the swarm has left their colony, they cluster in a suitable place while the scouts search a cavity for their new home. They typically hang in their cluster for less than 48 hours. That's why beekeepers need to act quickly, to catch the swarm before they leave.
Are they aggressive?
Typically not. Swarming bees, although they can appear chaotic, are rarely aggressive. One reason for this: they have very little to defend. They have no nest which means they have no honey stored or brood to protect. Therefore they don't pose much of a threat if they are not treated aggressively. I work with a guy who, during his childhood, threw a rock into a swarm of bees that were clustered in a tree. They went crazy.
An exception to the rule that clustered bees are calm would be when the cluster remains in the same spot for several days. Although this is uncommon, they will sometimes begin to draw comb on the branch and begin to make what is called an open-air nest. They can begin to be more protective when they have begun building a home worth protecting.
If I see a swarm, what do I do?
Stay calm and contact me! Either call/text 615-289-7334 or fill out the form below. I would be happy to help you remove them. Make sure you include details about the location of the swarm, if it's in a tree, the eve of a house, a fence post, etc. and leave a callback number so I can reach you.
What if I have live bees living in my house?
This is not uncommon. Although this is not a swarm, I can help you and you should get in touch soon! This is considered a cutout, or honeybee removal. Bees living inside a home can be a nuisance and should be removed. The removal needs to be done correctly. Simply killing the bees with a pesticide will create bigger problems. Although the bees would be gone, the comb they left behind can melt on hot days making a mess of the structure. The honey left behind will attract mice, rats, ants and other pests for weeks and months to come. Also, the odor of the decaying bees will be present for months. A proper removal includes opening the cavity, removing the bees and the comb, preserving as much as possible so that the colony can be relocated and continue producing, pollinating and making honey for us to enjoy.