The warm, dry weather this weekend is ideal for honey bees to swarm here in West Michigan. While swarms are not ideal they can be handled professionally. Experts are asking locals to reach out if they spot a swarm, so the bees can be safely re-homed into a hive.
WHAT IS A SWARM?
A honey bee swarm is basically a giant ball of bees that has left the hive permanently. Bees do this when the hive is splitting and half the colony leaves to find a new home. Worker bees within the hive will make the call to find a new home if the colony is getting too large and they need to split to expand, or if the current hive is in a less-than-ideal location.
Ideally, hive-splitting is done before spring in apiaries. Swarms can be dangerous to the host hive, as well as the portion of the bees that choose to leave.
Still, every year a few swarms seem to occur. They can form on the ground, in the trees or even by attaching themselves to homes and buildings.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SEE ONE?
While honey bees are often thought of as wild many hives don’t fare well outside of an apiary due to mites and diseases. Swarms should always be collected by a professional, to ensure the bees can survive and thrive.
If you see a swarm in the wild:
- Do not spray it with pesticides
- Call a professional to rescue it
- Do not leave it to find a hive on its own
It is essential that honey bees be protected.
According to the FDA “about one-third of the food eaten by Americans comes from crops pollinated by honey bees, including apples, melons, cranberries, pumpkins, squash, broccoli, and almonds, to name just a few. Without the industrious honey bee, American dinner plates would look quite bare.”
Check out the Michigan Beekeepers Association for a list of people to contact who will come and rescue the bees from your property. Some professionals on this list will even offer to take on difficult rescues, like the swarms that form inside attics or walls. Some contractors will also perform a rescue.
This is a video of a swarm being safely collected and placed into a hive where it can be cared for and kept healthy by a local beekeeper.
Swarms typically come to an end around the summer solstice, which is why the weather this week is expected to create some big booms in bee swarms.