When Honey Bees Swarm
When Honey Bees Swarm is written not only for Beekeepers both new and seasoned but also for Residential and Commercial property owners that find themselves faced with several thousand uninvited insects known as Honey Bees.
Honey Bee Swarm
For those of us living in Southern States we live in what is known as Africanized Honey Bee Infected areas. This makes removing Swarms or removing established Colonies a little bit different than a beekeeper that lives in non Africanized areas.
For home and property owners when honey bees swarm it can be a very dangerous situation as Africanized Honey Bees are extremely unpredictable. Swarms such as the one to the left and pictured above can seem extremely docile allowing the curious home owner to get very close without so much as a fly by and give Beekeepers the courage to work with little or no protective gear.
When Honey Bees Swarm:
When Honey Bees Swarm the problems start when Bees take up residence in a Structure Wall, Shed, Tire or other shelter that the Colony feels is adequate. Once the Queen starts laying eggs and a brood chamber is established a docile colony can very quickly become aggressive. A colony does not have to be a Africanized Hybrid to be aggressive. Long before Africanized honey bees arrived in the United States beekeepers had to deal with aggressive managed colonies. When a managed colony was detected the beekeeper normally re-queened the colony with a Queen of known genetics which would in time change the temperament of the colony.
Beekeepers that do Swarm/Bee Removal will introduce a removed colony into a hive body. When the Queen starts laying eggs establishing the Brood Chamber the true temperament of the colony can be observed. With eggs being laid and brood in varying stages being present the Colony if aggressive switches into defensive mode and will protect the hive sending out hundreds if not thousands of bees to insure that the Colony lives on. For these colonies re-queening the colony aids in stopping aggressive behavior.
Africanized Honey Bees
Africanized Honey Bees are also known to throw small swarms such as the one in the picture above. This insures that the Africanized Genes live on. These swarms can take over weak or small managed and unmanaged colonies turning them into Africanized Colonies. When the Africanized Queen starts laying eggs the Africanized multiplying process starts all over. Beekeepers that are not equipped to handle Aggressive or Africanized colonies can get deep in trouble in a matter of seconds. Most beekeepers protective suits are only rated as “Sting Resistant” and not “Sting Proof”. Sting resistant means that Bees can possibly sting through the material. Sting Resistant Suits provide little to no protection from an Africanized Bee attack. If your a Beekeeper removing Swarms or established Colonies make a plan on how you will deal with an Africanized Colony well before you start the removal. Purchase a quality “Sting Proof” suit and be prepared to deal with aggressive Bees should the need arise, your life may depend on it!
Swarms: Swarms such as the one pictured above are merely Colonies that are in transition. Normally these Swarms are found hanging from tree limbs or any place where the swarm can gather close to or around the Queen to rest while scouts are sent out to look for a more permanent home. If left alone these swarms will only be in place from just a few minutes to a few hours and will disappear just a quick as they arrived. Extreme caution should be used where humans or pets can come into contact with Honey Bee Swarms. Swarms such as the one pictured above however rare can be extremely aggressive.
What Causes Bees to Swarm: There is a variety of reasons why Honey Bees will Swarm. The most common in managed colonies is poor hive management which includes crowding, disease and a lack of hive maintenance. In feral colonies when honey bees swarm if the colony is not diseased the most common reason for swarming is lack of room or crowding within hive. Genetics also play a very important role in swarming as many colonies have a very high tendency to swarm. Swarming is natures way of making sure honey bees live on and multiple swarms can come from one colony. In managed colonies lack of room in early spring when colonies are building up for the upcoming nectar flow will cause the colony to start building swarm cells due to over crowding.
Honeybee Queens produce what is called Pheromones which is a very distinct scent every queen has. The Queens Pheromone is also an indicator to the colony of her health. A very strong Pheromone scent tells the colony that the Queen is in good health which which in turn reflects on the entire colonies health. A queen with a weak scent or a queen that is unhealthy will cause the colony to produce queens cells to Supersede (replace) the failing queen.
Queen Swarm Cell Cups
Replacing Honeybee Queens in Feral Colonies:
Many states require beekeepers that perform honeybee removal to re-queen all feral colonies (Feral Colony: Feral Colonies are any colony that is “Not Managed”). Feral Colonies include any colony found in hollow Trees, Structures, Swarms etc… If the beekeeper does not know where the swarm came from and it is not in equipment that enables a beekeeper to manage the colony, it is considered a feral colony. This includes beekeepers with colonies in hive equipment that has not been regularly inspected for disease and pest.
A Word of Caution To Beekeepers:
Introducing colonies of unknown Genetics and Origin into your Bee Yard/ Apiary can have devastating consequences. Africanized Bees can be introduced to your managed colonies. It can also introduce diseases and other pest such as mites and hive beetles. These diseases and pest can affect every managed colony in your apiary and may infect your beekeeping tools and equipment. It is highly suggested that separate tools and equipment be used for honey bee removal to prevent the spread of diseases. Many of us take re-queening very seriously. Not following State guidelines (where applicable) for re-queening can not only affect other beekeepers managed colonies but any feral colonies within the area.
For Question or more information please Email: Info@saulcreekapiary.com