Large numbers of bees swarming in a tree in your garden or around your home can be unnerving, especially if they establish a hive within your house. However, bee swarms and nests can be safely managed if you follow careful procedures and get proper help.
What is a Bee Swarm?
Swarming is the honey bee’s method of colony reproduction. The old queen and about half of the worker bees leave their former nest and seek a new home, usually in the spring but sometimes at other times of the year when local conditions permit. To start the process, certain worker bees, called “scouts,” begin to canvass the surrounding territory for a potential new nesting site even before the swarm leaves its original colony.
A departing swarm consists of a large number of bees flying in a cloud that seems to drift along through the air. People not familiar with honey bees are generally frightened by such a mass, which can contain 5,000 to 20,000 bees, but unless a bee becomes tangled in someone’s hair, it isn’t likely to sting. The queen is in the group, but not leading it. Usually within 100 to 200 yards of the original hive, the bees alight on an object and form a cluster, which looks like a seething, fuzzy glob of insects. Sometimes bees fly from the cluster to collect water and food, but most workers leaving the cluster are scouts that search out potential new home sites for the swarm. When they return from a good site, they dance on the cluster to communicate the location of their find.