The Not-So-Dangerous Bee Swarm
Why to Respect these Valuable Pollinators
It’s the stuff of Hollywood movies and spine-chilling stories — a swarm of bees attacking everything in their path. Mad, ruthless, and vicious buzzing creatures covering whatever strikes their fancy (usually a person) until they succumb to the deadly stings! This is how a swarm of bees behaves, right?
Well, not exactly.
First of all, let’s discuss what a honey bee swarm is and exactly why they’re swarming. A swarm is an entire colony of bees looking for a place to start up housekeeping. It includes a queen and up to 30,000 of her pals, the worker bees and drones. They do this without any anger, aggression, nor any plans to sting people.
Usually, a young queen is born into a colony and she takes the place of the old queen (no one said life as a queen was easy). The old queen sees the writing on the wall and starts packing for greener pastures. Don’t worry, she has some loyal subjects — she ends up taking about half of that colony with her to hang around a new castle.
The entourage is led by the queen bee and her pheromones — which has them following her beyond all reason. When the queen finds a comfy bush or tree branch, the swarm will settle there, as well. Ultimately what they’re looking for is an unoccupied cavity in which to call home. This is the time when a savvy beekeeper will place a beehive below the swarm to attract them. If the colony approves (and by “the colony”, I mean the Queen) then someone just got themselves a brand new hive, pollination team, and honey processing plant!
Let’s back up a bit. There’s a thick, black, buzzing cloud going through your yard and you’re supposed to believe that these guys don’t have your name at the top of their tiny, bee hit-list, right? That’s exactly right. And the reason that they don’t have stinging on their mind is that honey bees typically defend two things: their young (in the hive) and their honey (also in the hive).
They tend to get irked when you mess with these things — as well they should. In the honeybee’s defense, if you’re going to go into a hive and take either of those things, well…that actually makes you the aggressor.
That said, personally, I wouldn’t grab a broom and start flailing it around trying to swat at the swarm. I mean that probably falls under the definition of provocation, am I right?
If you find that a swarm of honeybees has landed at your home, garage, or porch and you not only don’t believe a word I’ve written here, but are getting ready to sue me because these bees are certainly going to kill you in your sleep…all I ask is that instead of taking matters into your own hands, please contact a local beekeeper to have them gently removed. Honey bees are one of our most valuable pollinators and they’re having a terrible time staying in existence.
Trivial Note: I’m not a honey beekeeper. Although, I am a Western Blue Mason Beekeeper, which isn’t of any importance to this article at all. I only mention it for the record.
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