Spring is the time of year when you are likely to see a few bee swarms. For those that don't know much about swarms I thought I would explain what they are, why bees swarm and what to do if you have one turn up at your place.
Firstly, have a look at one of our beehives swarming!
What is a Swarm and Why do Bees Swarm?
Mainly in springtime you may see a very large group of bees flying together or you may see a big clump (like a ball) of bees hanging from a branch, on a fence, against your house, or some other place. This is a swarm of bees.
A swarm is when a queen bee takes a large group of worker bees (usually about 50-60% of the hive) with her and leaves the hive to find a new home. It is a natural means of reproduction for bee colonies. A swarm of bees could consist of thousands to tens of thousands of bees.
The reason bees swarm could be due to one of these causes:
- There are two queens in a hive so one takes half the bees out and finds another home
- There are too many bees for one hive, a new queen is created and the old queen moves off with some of the bees
- The bees are simply predisposed genetically to swarming (instinctive)
What to Do if You are in the Path of Moving Swarm:
Don't panic! Don't run! Don't fling your arms around! Just remember they will have filled up on honey before they left and will be docile and unable to sting. But to be safe just crouch down low and stay still until they pass.
What to Do if you Have a Swarm on your Property:
Don't panic! Don't touch them! Don't spray them! They will not harm you unless you harm them.
The best thing you can do is to get hold of a local beekeeper to come and collect it. There are hobby beekeeping clubs all around the country and they are often looking for swarms to fill new hives.
Look for a beekeeper in your area on the National Beekeepers Association website
. Or google a hobby beekeeper's club near you. Here are some club websites:
Waikato Hobby Beekeeping Club
Auckland Beekeepers Club
Whangarei Beekeeping Club
Christchurch Hobbyist Beekeeping Club
There's actually a great list of hobby beekeeping clubs
on the Kiwimana website, there might be one near you. Hobby beekeepers are always on the scout out for new bee colonies!
Why do bees sting?
Remedies for bee stings