(Honey-bee swarm photographed in Genesee last year by Ute Herzel-Harding)
On this Earth Day, here’s a simple way to take action – save this information about what to do if you encounter a honey-bee swarm. Don’t panic – don’t be afraid – do report them to beekeepers who can give them a new home, which is what some bees are looking for at this time of year. Here’s expert advice from Puget Sound Beekeepers Association president Krista Conner, who happens to be a West Seattleite:
Puget Sound Beekeepers Association wants you to be prepared to help the bees!
With recent losses of bee populations worldwide, seeing a few bees around the garden is something to celebrate. But what do you do when a few thousand bees show up?
Most swarms are the size of a football, more or less.
Longer days bring a surge of blooming trees and flowers which create a short window of time for healthy honey bee colonies to split and create new colonies. This split happens when honey bees swarm: roughly 10-15 thousand bees and their queen will leave an existing colony and land upon a tree branch or side of building. Once there, this mass of bees can resemble a very large pine cone or football shaped mass. Swarming is the natural process that honey bee hives go through to create new colonies and spread their genetics to new locations.
Honey bee swarms are vulnerable outside the hive to weather, animals and more importantly people. They need to find a new home quickly. In a rural setting this is usually a hollow tree but in the city with loss of habitat this can take the form of a wall or attic of a house where they become a problem for homeowners.
If you encounter a swarm it is important to remain calm and to call a beekeeper quickly before the bees leave to a new home or take up residence in an undesirable location. It is important to not kill or disturb the honey bees by spraying pesticides or even water on them.
Puget Sound Beekeepers Association offers the community a “swarm list” – a list of beekeepers who are willing to collect swarms. The swarm list should be your first resource to manage a honey bee swarm. Swarm collection usually is provided for free if the bees are within easy reach and are not inside a wall or house. Follow the directions on the list for confirming help is on the way. While you wait for the beekeeper, the best thing you can do is get your camera ready and make sure people stay 10-15 feet away from the swarm.
When a beekeeper arrives they will remove the swarm by transferring them into a hive box. Bees in a swarm are less likely to sting because they have nothing to defend and are gorged with honey so they have energy to build a new colony. The beekeeper may work bare-handed or in a full suit to transfer the football sized swarm of bees into a hive with a shake of a branch or by the handful if they are on a wall. Once the majority of the bees are in the hive the beekeeper will wait for any stray bees to find their way into the hive box before closing the hive up to take to their new home.
Here and anywhere in the greater Seattle area, please refer to the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association swarm list to find a swarm-catching beekeeper: pugetsoundbees.org/psba-swarm-list
Thanks for helping the bees!
Puget Sound Beekeepers Association
Sorry, comment time is over.
All contents copyright 2013, A Drink of Water and a Story Interactive. Here's how to contact us.
Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
Entries and comments feeds. ^Top^