Every year, near the beginning of spring bees renew their yearly process of repopulating their colony.
During this process, individuals may sight a large group of bees flying in a cloud-like sphere suspended in the air, possibly low to the ground. For some this can be alarming.
“Swarms can be intimidating, but it is rare for swarming bees to sting,” says Cam Lay of the Montana State Department of Agriculture.
So far for 2015, swarms have been reported across the country in states like Colorado, California and Oregon.
The most important thing to know, officials urge, is that the bees do not intend to cause anyone any harm during a swarm.
“Swarming is how bees make new (colonies). About half of the colony leaves with the old queen and as much honey as they can eat. They’ll hang up somewhere and send out scouts to find a new location, someplace dry and defensible where they can store honey and raise more bees,” Lay says.
Check and make sure they are honey bees. Yellow jackets and wasps are often mistaken for honey bees. Consult an identification guide for more info.
Once a swarm moves into a wall or hollow tree it is no longer a swarm and may need cut out. Many beekeepers do not provide this service due to the difficulty and expertise needed. Look for hive removal or cutout in the search results for beekeepers that will.
Don’t expect a beekeeper to remove a swarm for free. A few will depend on location, but free bees often costs more time and gas than purchasing bees. Hive removal and cutouts are rarely free due to the time, expense and liability involved.