Swarming is the process by which honeybees reproduce to form new colonies. When a honeybee colony outgrows its home and becomes too congested, the colony swarms. Although a huge mass of bees may be shocking, honeybee swarms are not nearly as defensive as they are around their hive because they are not protecting brood (developing young bees) or honey stores.
Usually, swarming activity coincides with the nectar flow in the spring. Honeybees will follow their queen to a temporary safe place, usually a tree, and cluster around her while they seek a new home. Honeybees are different from wasps and hornets but they can often be confused for one another. Use this chart to help identify if what you have encountered is in fact a swarm of honeybees.
While honeybee swarms will appear as a cluster of bees, some hornets and wasps nests will look grey and paper like. Other wasps, like yellowjackets, nest in the ground. If you have a wasp or hornet's nest on your property that is not bothering you please consider leaving it, as they are beneficial predators and sometimes even pollinators. However, if they have built their nest in a dangerous place please call an exterminator.
If you have identified that you do have a honeybee swarm on your property and it is not higher than 15 feet, consider calling a local beekeeper to retrieve it and keep the honeybees safe. Please contact UlsterCountyBeekeepers@Gmail.com and someone on our club's swarm list will come as soon as possible.
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