With the spring and early summer being prime bee swarming season in the United States, I thought it a good opportunity to examine the reasons why bees swarm. When I first think of bees swarming, I immediately think of the 1991 tearjerker film, My Girl, in which Macaulay Culkin’s character tragically dies as a result of an allergic reaction to being stung by a pack of bees. Although a complete work of fiction, I always thought twice about hanging about beehives after that film.
But why do bees swarm? Swarms of bees may grow as large as 30,000, typically nesting in hollow trees, under porches, and even on the windshield of a car as one resident of Saanich, British Columbia found out the hard way. The main purpose behind the swarming is reproduction. Whenever a colony becomes too overcrowded in a nest, they have the natural instinct to swarm. The worker and drone bees are drawn to a pheromone that the queen bee releases and the colony seeks out a new place to nest that will better suit the growing population.
Typically, the new hive is located within 200 yards of the colony’s previous hive. While bee swarms may look dangerous to humans, they tend to be mostly harmless to humans. Most species of bees will be much more aggressive around an established hive than they will during a swarm.
What to do if bees swarm
If bees happen to swarm at your home, it is best to contact a professional pest control company that will provide you experienced advice and remove the hive. It is best to not attempt to remove a hive from your home yourself as the bees may react in a defensive manner.
There has been a decrease in bee swarms in recent decades. One reason for this is thought to be due to the introduction of parasitic mites that have exterminated many colonies of honey bees. The Varroa mite in particular has devastated colonies in North America, resulting in a drastic drop in the number of honey bee colonies. Managed bee colonies have become a necessity for farmers and gardeners who rely on the pollinating services of bees.
Be sure to contact Ehrlich if you have any pest control issues. Our technicians are trained to identify yellow jackets, bees and hornets and will be able to advise and take action if a swarm poses a risk to human health.