Swarm Season - Wild Bees and what to do if you see them

In The Garden

12-04-2022 • 11 mins

Hey, Keith Ramsey with the garden supply company. I've got Jason here with me today. Many of you guys know Jason as our resident beekeeper, manages our bee department, and takes care of everything related to bees. With a little bit of help from me every once in a while. Jason talked the other day, and swarm season's right around the corner.

Jason, what causes a swarm as I

Bee Expert: I was going to say, swamp, this natural tendency is to make more bees as they grow in a colony or the cavity or space they're living in. Since that approaching, they will tend to outgrow that bee since that approaching and will naturally divide themselves, which means they'll cast out a queen and about a third to half of the existing bees in that colony.

And they'll relocate to another or try to leave [00:01:00] relocate to another location. If you see that, it's a great thing to see. Like in a cartoon, we, the cloud of bees coming through the sky. But when they land, they're going to land into groups all cluster together, usually on a branch or in a shrub or on a

Keith: fence post or something like that.

So the queen and the queen land on the branch first, and the bees go from what. 40-foot swarm to, kind of get smaller and smaller you all are until it's telling us they're

Bee Expert: attracted to the queen. So, when the bees swarm, many workers leave first, and they start to fly around. The activity inside the hive gets chaotic, and the other workers are forced to queen out with them.

They all fly up into a cloud or a group into this, in the sky, before flying back until they reach a spot where they can use all cluster together to rest and regroup before moving to their permanent home.

Keith: Everything about bees is interesting. It's like a non-stop learning curve.

But the old queen leaves, and she goes with all the old. The fun thing about that is [00:02:00] they know what they're doing. They know that the whole deal, and they've all got a position in the hive. And they go pop as much honey as they can too.

So they can start building wax and start collecting resources.

Bee Expert: Which in that whole process. So they'll engorge themselves with honey. They want to take as many resources with them to the new location. It takes a lot of energy to make wax and rebuild. They're reconstructing the whole.

So we're when they've done that, and they are in their resting group. They tend to be relatively docile when they've clustered on the branch. No need to be scared of them, really, as long as you're don't, I wouldn't recommend approaching them necessarily, but they're not going to leap off of where they are and come stinky or attack you.

They're in a resting mode. They don't have anything to protect. Home or brewed that they have to defend homeless bees, homeless B. So they're just looking they're in transition. Yep.

Keith: Migraine. So, the other thing that I've found interesting is that there are many feral bees left.

Bee Expert: No. When people talk about feral bees, it's [00:03:00] usually bees that a beekeeper has been managing or mismanaging, and they've either swarmed, or they've missed the swarm or the colony has left and relocated to another

Keith: spot.

But Winnie the Pooh tree. They aren't around because of mites, insect problems, or disease problems.

Bee Expert: So, these don't tend to live very long in nature. The honeybee is not native to North America in the first.

Keith: place. So they need management.

They need

Bee Expert: management. Absolutely. Because of pests that have been introduced over the years, mostly through commercial beekeeping practices. Have spread to all the bees, and without specific management, they will die. Yeah.

Keith: That has to be a bummer if you're a beekeeper. If your swarm leaves, it's they're breaking up with you.

Like we're out. Yep. You got one job, beekeeper.

Bee Expert: I'd wanted

Keith: this one since I had an older customer and it was keeping bees for a couple of years, and he came in, and he said, These girls don't even know when they got a good home. They kept flying on [00:04:00] him. Probably because of

Bee Expert: it couldn't be healthy bees.

I Healthy. Like I said, bees want

Keith: to make more bees. Yeah. So when the old bees and the old queen leaves. And the reason they leave is that they're knowledgeable and they know what they're doing, and they have the resources and the Queen fertile, and she can lay an egg the next day.

And she probably will lay an egg in an unfinished cell the next day. So to start that whole process again, you got a thousand bees at the hatch out of a hive and in a given day and a thousand bees that die every day. So she wants to lay a thousand eggs as fast as they can build those cells.

But the exciting thing about it is you've got an infertile queen in the high. And she's got to do a mating flight. She's got to become fertile start to lay eggs. So there's a 12 or 15-day process there. But she. She's born into a hive. That's already got eggs and all stages of brood that are hatching now.

So she's got a 10 to [00:05:00] 10 days before you see any blip in the process.

Bee Expert: And that is a healthy thing for them. They can prevent the disease from spreading throughout the colony when they do that. So if bees get sick, they may divide themselves. A lot of the sick bees end up leaving. What's left.

Can recover and

Keith: maintain. Yep. It's really important that if you see bees are in short supply, they're in significant decline because of insect problems insect issues. But if you see a swarm, they're not going to make it on their own in the wild. You mustn't spray them, don't spray them.

We've gone out to rescue bees, and somebody's standing there spraying them with unbelievable chemicals. But reach out to garden supply company. And if you're local, if you're not local, reach out to Facebook B group, the county, almost every county in America has a big.

But you reach out to one of those guys, and they'll put, they'll get the word out there [00:06:00] to the beekeepers that, that are available,

Bee Expert: the keepers want to catch these things, give them a home, and then take care of them. Sure, exactly.

Keith: And you mentioned that there's not that many feral bees left.

It's probably somebody's. If

Bee Expert: you see what

Keith: Yeah, it's going to be somebody hive. There's a mite that's been around for about ten years, and that's a big part of the problem with bees. And it's why the loss rate with bees has gone way up, even when they're managed.

But if they're not treated for. Ultimately those hives are just going to decline over 24 months. And it probably won't make it to, it may not make it a year, but it was not going to make it two years. So when you lose a high. In a tree, say, they'll leave the resources behind, and you may get another swarm that goes to that tree, but you don't, but isn't that high as died out.

And then another swarm moves in because the resources are already there. I grew up in the country, and I remember honeybees would get in people's houses and stuff like that, but I haven't heard of like a swarm and a deck. Yeah. We could have to send you pictures that they happen mainly in the [00:07:00] springtime this spring.

It's a mid-March through mid June is getting way late for swarms, but you see a few then April and May. And it's, and again, as Jason said, there it's the natural way that a beehive, they multiply, you end up with two points. They seem to like houses branches in cars.

Yeah. So my dad tells this story, and then it may be exaggerated. I don't know where he saw somebody that went into a house and they were cutting the bees out of the house. They found the queen. He said the guy put the queen in a cage, and he put it in the back seat of a Buick LeSabre. And the B's filed into the Buick LeSabre to be with the queen.

And that's what happens. That is the way this works. That's why there are so many forms and cars. And then he said that guy got in the car with a [00:08:00] pseudo. And proceeded to drive down the road. And he said the bees were flying after Victor. I bet. That's what happened in this situation. I'm looking at a Google picture of a beekeeper approaching a cop car.

That's been like completely swarm.

Bee Expert: the cop was probably like, yeah, we'll grab the queen.

Keith: We'll throw it in the back of the squad.

Bee Expert: I

Keith: I just want to know why there aren't any pictures or videos of what my dad saw. He's got a phone.

That is precisely the way it works, though. If you can find the queen and the queen to not necessarily easy to find and in a hive, but when you're doing cutouts like Jason was talking about, that's when I'm high, I've had swore. It's located itself into a house and a.

You've got to complicate it because that involves the construction and genetics. Do you guys charge if you've seen us warm on a branch, so we'll come to get a swarm that the cutouts are a lot more specialized? Jason used to [00:09:00] do a fair amount of them, but if you're typically partner with a carpenter.

And it's a thousand or $2,000 process could be $5,000 depending on, where they've gone in and what kind of woodwork you're coming that dealing with the structure.

Bee Expert: You don't want to damage somebody's house. You want to be real careful and be insured and

Keith: know what you're doing.

So it's, that's a, it's a more, it's a lot more complicated, but again, it's, that's worth saving those bees and getting them out of the house. The other part of that is if you were to spray them in the place, All the resources are still there and the holes potentially still there. And if the hole isn't there, they will find another hole because there's a boatload of honey in there and pollen.

So they'll, and they can smell like you've killed the queen in the house. They can smell where the queen that they can. They can sense where the queen is. She's given all Fairmont. Dead or alive for years, they can come. So for years, they'll come back to the location, and you'll have another swarm there and another swarm there.

So they need to be cut out, cleaned out, [00:10:00] primed, and then sealed up correctly. Then not have another swarm in that location. But, give us a shout. If you see us warm garden supply company and see any bees, your

Bee Expert: concern, you don't know what they are. They could be yellow jackets, Hornets. Let us know, and we'll figure it out.

Keith: take a picture, send it back.

Or reach out to a bee club. And or your county, they've usually got a list of people who'll pick up hives or swarms. I didn't know that they weren't local to our area and needed maintenance. It's like a., And like cattle raising come out, roaming around.

Do you, should, you should call whoever is missing. You should have somebody to pick them up.

Bee Expert: off. The not native to north and south America came across with

Keith: your European crumbs in

Bee Expert: Columbus and stuff. Yeah. Yeah.

Keith: She'll need maintenance. They do all right until next time. Swing by and look at the hives at garden supply company and enjoy spring.