Swarming happens in several sequential stages...
Swarm Receiving Hive
Swarming in Honeybees
Swarming is often considered simply as colony reproduction,
but there is an alternative view.
Depending on whether you are a beekeeper or a member of the non
beekeeping public, your views may vary from it being a minor nuisance
to it being perceived as a threat.
First may I put your mind at rest! Honey bees
are not dangerous... They are equipped with a sting and they can be
provoked into using it. They are in fact very gentle creatures, but
they are much prejudiced by grossly exaggerated and scare-mongering
stories propagated by the worlds press and news media.
If you find a swarm of bees... First, do not panic, then
contact a beekeeper (your local police station may have a number of
beekeeper's addresses). A beekeeper will be able to collect the bees
by using the methods outlined on the
Swarm Collection page.
Bees in a swarm, that has only recently formed, are gorged
with honey and are unlikely to sting, but please leave the collecting
job to someone that is skilled.
Conditions that can lead to swarming
Swarm decision taken
Raising queen cells
Queen cells sealed
Scouting for possible new homes
Local clustering... This is the condition that most non
beekeepers will recognise, with the mass of bees clustered on a post
or hanging from the branch of a tree like a bunch of grapes. They may
stay in this cluster for a few minutes up to a few days depending on
the weather and how far the 'new home' decision making process has
progressed. Worker bees will be seen on the surface of the cluster
that have pollen loads and some workers will actively forage for
nectar from the cluster. The pollen carrying bees were either already
inside the hive, but had not unloaded or were returning from pollen
gathering and became caught up in the frenzy of the swarm issuing.
Some dancing may be observed on the cluster surface... This may be
recruitment of scouts to visit particular proposed sites as part of
the destination decision making process or it may be due to nectar
Deciding on a new home
Traveling to a new home
Adopting a new home
Written... 18 December 2001, Revised...26 January 2002
Revised... 31 May 2002