What to do about a swarm!

It’s Swarm Season- that's a good thing!!!


Swarms and bees in general so often shape themselves like hearts. Little wonder they rightly occupy ours. It’s incredible to watch a swarm in progress but just coming upon it in its initial resting place close to the mother colony is a wonder - this thrumming, murmuring, moving mass of beautiful bees surrounding their queen, the scouts coming and going and dancing their final home location miles away, persuading the democracy of workers of the appropriateness of the potential residence by the degree of enthusiasm in their waggle.

Every species desires to perpetuate itself. Swarming is the natural way a colony of bees reproduces. In a primary swarm the old queen and about half the workers fill their honey stomachs and fly from the hive together, leaving the safety of an established home and all its resources for a virgin daughter queen to assume reign over. The queen’s attendants have planned for this event by slimming her down and packing the cells where she would normally lay eggs with food stores.

In spite of her forced diet, the queen is not a strong flyer and needs to remind her wings of the air meeting them and pauses to rest before undertaking the longer flight home. This is usually where you’ll see them, clustered amazingly somewhere outside the hive. They have to move to their new home before they run out of the food they’re carrying in their bodies. A swarm will occupy this initial space for 15 minutes to three days then travel to their newly chosen residence. They are usually very docile and with their bellies full cannot physically bend their abdomens to sting. They’re also very seriously occupied with their mission and care little about the trivialities of man.

The miracle of a swarm will not be there for long. Leave them be or call a beekeeper or a beekeeping club. Please do not harm them. Our colony losses are heartbreakingly high. Only the strongest overwintered survivors will swarm. The daughter queens have been carefully chosen by the workers and reared to be royalty. They are vital to restoring our honeybees to health.

If you see a swarm call

  • Alice at 919.449.8775
  • Mary at 919.802.2764
  • Uli at 919.412.1914
  • Wendy at 919.740.0696
  • Mark at 919.270.6505
  • Ben at 919.368-5217
  • or check the Wake County Beekeeper’s Association website for more contacts: http://www.wakecountybeekeepers.org/swarm-list/