Honeybee Swarms

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Honeybee Swarms
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The Honeybee Swarm:

A Typical Honeybee Swarm

A swarm of bees generally consisting of the old maternal queen and 10,000 or so bees leaves the old hive and coalesces into a beard-like cluster at a nearby site, usually a tree branch and hangs for several hours or several days. During which time about five percent of its bees, the scouts, busy themselves searching for a tree hole or similar cavity as a suitable dwelling place for the colony. Scout bees search widely and find a large number of potential nest sites. If they find a potentially suitable nest-site, they measure a suite of its characteristics, and represent their overall enthusiasm for that site in the vigor of their dance back on the surface of the swarm. Dances that elicit enthusiasm from other bees back at the swarm will gain recruits, and support will dwindle for dances for lesser quality nest sites. As excitement in the swarm grows for better sites, support for the lesser quality sites will dwindle, and the dancers for these sites often switch allegiance and begin dancing for the better sites. Over the course of several hours to several days, a consensus builds among the scouts, and the swarm departs for its new home. Swarms may select from a variety of cavities ranging from a void located in your house, nearby hollow tree, or any such cavity they may discover, or choose to build a nest right where they are. It is important to call a beekeeper as soon as possible for removal of this swarm while it is easily captured. Once a swarm has entered a void, such as your house or other structure, it can become more costly to have them removed.

If you see a swarm, please do the following:

1. Keep pets and children away from the swarm.

2. Do not spray pesticide or harm the swarm in any manner.

3. Call a Beekeeper.

Honeybee Nest

A Honeybee

Before calling a beekeeper, please consider the following questions and be prepared to answer a few questions.

1. Is it really a swarm?

Time of year
Swarms typically occur in the Spring, starting late April till mid July, but almost never in the late summer.


A honeybee swarm can be described as a compact ball of bees, as small as a grapefruit, to the size of a football, to as large as a basketball. Swarms also appear suddenly, you may have seen them settle onto the branch or bush. If you see this exciting moment, then you definitely have a honey bee swarm.

A swarm will settle on a branch, bush, or even objects like cars or hydrants. If the honey bees are INSIDE, then it either is an established hive or not honey bees. If it is an established hive, it may be very difficult to remove. Expect a higher fee for removal. If the nest is underground they are most likely yellow jackets , and not honey bees. If the swarm is very high, it may be too difficult to capture. Give the beekeeper an honest opinion of its height.

2. Be prepared to answer some questions

How high is the swarm from the ground?

Can it be reached using a 6 foot step ladder?

Is the area level enough to secure a ladder?

How long has the swarm been there?

Has anyone tampered with the swarm?

See Honeybee Swarms and Colonies here:

Bee Removal - S.W. Pennsylvania