Swarm Season Is Here

Submitted Photo

Nancy and Domenic Giofre of the Missouri State BeeKeepers Association And Boone Regional Beekeepers club collect a bee swarm. 

By Sandy Richey, Missouri State Beekeepers Association

Honey bees swarm during the spring as a natural means of reproduction.  They aren’t usually aggressive during this time –  they’re just “shopping for a new home”.  

The bees will stay in a temporary spot as the scouts look for a suitable new home for the 60% or so who have left the original nest.  The swarm could be on a car bumper or at the top of a tree. 

If you see a swarm of honey bees please call your local beekeeper, local beekeeping club, or local sheriff.

You can find a listing of  swarm-catching beekeepers on the Missouri State Beekeepers Association website at mostatebeekeepers.org/bee-swarms (any beekeeper who would like to be on the swarm catcher list can join MSBA – visit the site listed above for details).

 Have you spotted a swarm?

Here’s what you need to tell a swarm catcher:

Are the insects definitely honey bees?

If you’re not sure, either take a photo or describe the swarm and insects in detail.

  • How high up is the swarm?
  • What is the swarm hanging from?
  • Is the swarm easily accessible?
  • How large is the swarm?
  • How long has the swarm been there?

Don’t harm the swarm as bees pollinate 30% of the food we eat.

The survival rate of these clusters is about 25%, so they need all the help you can give. 

Don’t confuse Yellow Jackets with Honey bees. Yellow Jackets live in the ground and are aggressive. Honey bees live in hives or trees and are not usually aggressive.  

It’s best to locate a beekeeper who knows the difference and has the equipment to deal with them.  They will give the bees a new home and the bees can continue to do what they do best – pollinate.

People often ask what they can do to save honey bees. The answer is simple – cut back on poisons, herbicides, and fungicides and plant native plants.  

Look at “weeds” as pollinator food. If it blooms, then consider it pollinator food rather than a weed.  

Let the fence lines and road sides go wild between April and October.  The profusion of color from wild flowers is much more beautiful than a boring expanse of grass!

Visit the MSBA booth at the Missouri State Fair, August 8-18 in Sedalia, MO, and  sample some honey-flavored ice cream.