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!