Why does a honey bee swarm?
Having collected many #honey bee swarms in 2014, I get asked this a lot.
Did you know established colonies in a hive or tree hollow may get upset if disturbed, however! Swarming bees are generally in a really good mood, they are after all, stuffed full of food (honey), in preparation for a journey to find a new home, this can take up to three days.
Without exception, every swarm I have collected has ben very well behaved, no defensive stinging.
Imagine the entire honey bee colony is a single entity, it may make it easier to understand.
All living things need to reproduce in order to survive and evolve.
When bees swarm, (Generally speaking) the colony divides the existing colony in two, this forms a new colony. For this to occur a new queen must develop and the old queen leaves the hive.
Caveat, colonies can swarm several times throughout the swarm season.
With honey bee numbers under threat every swarm is precious, provided the swarm is accessible and they can be collected safely beekeepers are keen to collect them and give them a new home. Swarms left uncollected are unlikely to survive, which means lost honey production but even more importantly, fewer of these hard working insects to pollinate crops, fruit and vegetables.
Understandably, people often mistake groups of other types of bees or wasps for honey bees. During the swarm season many calls tend to b about bumble bees or wasps or other flying insects and not honey bees.
If you are lucky enough to have a swarm on your property, many local beekeepers would welcome a call.
Below is a short clip of a swarm collection, early in the collection, a large portion of the swarm were only just placed in the box, but already they are fanning at the entrance, indicating the queen is inside.