Why do bees swarm?
Swarming is the natural way honey bees divide and therefore increase the number of colonies.
On a chosen day, usually around mid-day, during May/ June the bees “swarm”. A cloud of bees in their thousands leave home for the last time. The mother queen is persuaded to leave with them as they seek their fortunes further afield. As mother queen has not used her wings, for flying purposes, for at least 12 months or indeed seen the light of day outside the hive during this time she is somewhat loath to fly very far, so she alights usually within a short distance of leaving home and all of her daughters surround and protect her whilst the “scout bees” search for a new home. In the natural scene this would be a hollow tree but so often they select the eaves or roof void of a house or even the chimney.
It is at this stage that most non-beekeepers panic, as a cloud of bees invade their property.
What do they do?
Don’t panic! Swarming bees are intent on one thing only–looking for a new home and not seeking to sting anyone. Within a few minutes the queen will have landed and the worker bees will follow her into their new home or will again form a protective ball around her if she has settled upon a branch etc.
A telephone call to your local beekeeping assoc. is usually the recommended next step as most beekeepers are on “stand-by” for such call outs and will either collect the swarm or advise upon any possible problem, e.g. where they have settled in a chimney, possibly the most difficult situation to overcome. (ring Peter McFadden, on 01492 650851)
You could of course consider yourself extremely fortunate to have such a gift arrive on your property. Become a beekeeper and provide yourself, your family and friends with a welcome product–pure honey.
An added bonus, if you take this route, is that you will have joined the ranks of beekeepers and from then on enjoy a hobby that will captivate you for the rest of your life.
Visit National Swarm Co-ordinators: www.britishbee.org.uk/swarm_collection.php