They are one of the most beautiful and interesting phenomena in nature. A swarm starting to issue is a thrilling sight. A swarm may contain from 1,500 to 30,000 bees including, workers, drones, and a queen. Swarming is an instinctive part of the annual life cycle of a honey bee colony. It provides a mechanism for the colony to reproduce itself. Overcrowding and congestion in the nest are factors which predispose colonies to swarm. The presence of an old queen and a mild winter also contribute to the development of the swarming impulse. Swarming can be controlled by a skilled beekeeper; however, not all colonies live in hives and have a human caretaker.
No. Honey bees in a swarm are unlikely to be aggressive and sting anyone unless you attack the bees. At this stage they do not have a home to defend and they have filled up with honey in preparation for the flight to their permanent home. If the honey bees stay and construct a wax nest they will become aggressive if you disturb them.
There is a good possibility that a permanent nest (feral hive) of bees is located close to the swarm that has just landed. This could be in a cavity in a tree, a building, abandoned barrel, etc. This nest (colony) had a large population of honey bees and has run out of room to store honey, pollen and raise new bees. When this occurs the bees will begin to raise new queens and shortly before the new queens hatch the old queen will leave the hive with about one-half of the bees. The queen and bees will usually fly only a short distance, the queen will land on some object and the bees will cluster around her forming the swarm. If the first swarm does not reduce the crowding enough a second swarm may emerge.
If the swarm becomes a nuisance, call your local bee keeper. Spraying honey bee swarms with insecticide is not recommended for several reasons. First of all, even though the bees are not aggressive during swarming, you run the risk of getting stung if you try to spray them. Secondly, the bees are only going to be there for a short period of time, so spraying them will be a waste of your time. Finally, if the swarm is reachable, the bees are valuable to a beekeeper. If a swarm is found before it locates a new home, a beekeeper can capture the swarm and start a new hive with the bees. For swarm removal go to the Contact Page.
Directions to the swarm location including major cross roads. Give the beekeeper precise details such as how high in the tree, are they on the side of your house, how long have they been there?
The beekeeper will bring a box containing frames with beeswax comb. If the bees are in a clump hanging from a tree branch the beekeeper may ask if the branch could be cut. If all of the bees go into the box without flying the beekeeper may be able to take them at that time. If a large number of bees are still flying, and many scouts are out searching for a new home, the beekeeper may leave the box and come back near dark when the bees are all settled in for the night.
In the 1980's, two mites that parasitize honey bees were introduced into the U.S. They have spread throughout the state and have eliminated many wild or feral colonies. In addition, the number of colonies managed by beekeepers has declined during the past decade. Farmers and gardeners producing tree fruits, small fruits, forage legumes, oil seed crops, and vegetable crops requiring bee pollination need to consider pollination requirements as once abundant honey bee pollinators are no longer something they can take for granted. Managed honey bee colonies may be needed to assure adequate pollination of these crops.