Bee Information

Bee Swarms – What Is Honey Bees Swarming

You may have heard of honey bee swarming before especially around spring, but if you have no idea what it is and why honey bees swarm, then you are in the right place.

This interesting and natural process subdivides a colony resulting in a new colony. The queen along with half of the workers move to the new colony. You can learn more about it today.

Let’s dive in.

What Is Honey Bees Swarming?

Bee Swarm

When the original colony gets too crowded, the queen along with some of the workers makes a new one. This natural process of reproduction and subdivision of the existing colony into two is honey bee swarming. The honeybee swarm is an interesting phenomenon.

So, when there is crowding in a colony, you can expect this behavior. At this point the colony is congested. Workers build swarm cells for the new queens in which queens are supposed to lay eggs. After that, it’s time for a change! The workers would slow down their pace for finding the food.

The crowd follows the queen when she is ready. Queen takes half of the hive with her to the new colony. The crowd works hard and finds a new home after too much hassle at times. Finally, when they find a home they start building the colony from scratch.

It takes sixteen days for a colony to produce a new queen. She then must defeat any other queens present in the hive.

Which season is best for swarming?

Nectar resources are plenty in Spring so mainly March, April and May are the best months. It can happen later also, but it would be less successful in forming new colonies. Ideally, the bees would need time to collect the food for winter, and the later they establish the new colony, the late it would be to collect food.

Bee Swarm

So, the best time is during these months between March and May. Understanding what seasons are favorable would help the beekeepers as they would know what’s the best time.

Are Honeybees Dangerous When Swarming?

No, they are not dangerous when swarming. When they are busy during a swarm, they are focused on building their new home. It’s even possible to pick up the honeybees during a swarm. It’s vital that you understand the behavior of the honeybees especially if you plan beekeeping. You must know what’s good for the honeybees and what to expect from them during this natural process.

Why do you suddenly observe swarms?

You may start noticing the swarms and wonder if it was not there before. The reason is simple and it’s the survival of the bees. They want to live a better life. If there is overcrowding it means that the resources would be scarce and thus, the health of the bees could decline.

For a better life, they move to avoid overcrowding and subdivide the original colony. The queen bee leaves the hive when she is ready and takes half of the workforce. It’s a natural process and sounds interesting.

The overall behavior of the honey bees is quite interesting and may make you think about the wonders of life! So, the reason why you would see the swarms is that some bees are trying to live a better life and find a new home.

What are some of the tips for the beekeepers?

You may wonder about setting up swarm traps to catch any potential swarms. I currently have 2 swarm traps set up near my bee yard.

Catching a Swarm

If you are a beekeeper you may want to learn how to catch a swarm. Here are some key points;

Bee Swarm
  • Make sure you have the right tools and equipment for swarm catching, for example, protective gloves, a bee brush, a box for catching the bee swarm, and more!
  • Make sure the bees are in a location where you can easily reach them. If it’s high up, you may need to use a ladder. Be careful, I know a beekeeper who broke his leg trying to catch a swarm high up in a tree.
  • You have to try different ways to transfer the swarm to the new hive and see what works best. For example, if you observe a cluster on a branch, you can try shaking bees into a box. It’s vital that you are taking protective measures as you don’t want to invite trouble!
  • You can take your time and learn the art of beekeeping. Do what works best for you and is in your favor.

How long does a honey bee swarm last?

Honey bee swarming may last one to three days. The honey bee colony may get crowded and thus, it splits into two. This natural process would take up to three days, but you may not notice it.

Final Thoughts

Honey bee swarming is an interesting process that lets you see a bee’s life from a different angle. Bees move to new colonies with their queen when there is congestion and it’s hard for the queen to exercise her power.

Perhaps, it’s a lesson for someone who can learn from the behavior of the honey bees! Natural ways of life are interesting. When you learn about the honey bees behavior as a beekeeper, it would be easy for you to understand why bees act a certain way and thus, you would be able to know more about the honey bee swarms.

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