Bee Swarms: A Beginner's Guide

By Kevin O'Connor on Mar 15, 2019 at 01:35 PM in Nipomo Pest Control

"Every spring I see at least one loud mass of honeybees flying in Nipomo... scary!"

Bee Swarms: A Beginner's Guide-1
A "ball" of honeybees resting after they have swarmed. The queen is in the middle.

Humans are hard-wired to be alert to the sounds of honeybees buzzing -- honeybees can sting and we want to avoid that! However, buzzing is not a reliable sign of honeybee aggression: buzzing is caused by a honeybee's wings moving (to fly, to fan its hive and cool things down, to communicate with other honeybees) and experienced beekeepers learn ro recognize the particular sound an angry honeybee makes. They know that while a swarm looks and sounds scary, it is actually one of the gentlest expressions of honeybee activity!

How can a swarm of honeybees be considered "gentle?"

When a honeybee nest, or hive, becomes densely packed with young honeybees and is starting to feel constrained for space, the colony decides to split. Departing honeybees gorge on their honey stores in preparation for their exodus -- in fact, they are so full of honey that it is hard for them to sting, even if they wanted to!

They emerge from the hive in an awesome mass and the air fills with honeybees zinging around. The queen honeybee, a heavier and more awkward flier, emerges and the colony escorts her to a spot between 50 and 100 feet away, where the queen lands and her accompanying attendants mass around her, protecting her in a large "ball" of honeybees. 

Don't poke: leave the swarm alone!

At this point, the swarm is quite docile -- they are on a mission to find a new home and are not interested in anything else. HOWEVER -- if you were to go up and poke at them (or throw rocks at them as some teenagers feel compelled to do) they would not take it kindly and might come after you.

They will stay in this ball for a few hours to a few days, protecting the queen as the scout honeybees scour a thirty mile area looking for a new home (often in a tree). Once the scouts have found the home, they communicate its locations to the honeybees attending the queen and the swarm moves up en masse and flies to its new home.

"Help! The honeybees have balled up in my Nipomo back yard and I am worried about someone getting stung!"

Bee Swarms: A Beginner's Guide-2
A beekeeper gently removes a bee swarm from a bike.

If you are worried about a honeybee swarm being poked at by your children or dog, or have any other concerns, DO NOT SPRAY the honeybees! They are a vital part of Nipomo's environmental health, pollinating crops, wildflowers and bringing increased fertility to your and your neighbors' back yards and gardens. Simply keep your children and pets away from the swarm until it moves on.

If you can't wait until the honeybees move of their own accord, or are concerned that what you may be seeing is wasps or yellow jackets, ask for help:

Contact O'Connor Pest Control today if you desire professional and knowledgeable pest control advice or call us at 800-284-7985 for immediate service!

Last Friday I was calling frantically and needed an emergency estimate to get rid of a pesky nat infestation the rain had brought about. I called everyone in Goleta and Sb and O'Connors was the only business who went out of their way to get a technician to make time to come out the receptionist was the only receptionist after calling four other businesses that had pep in her step on a Friday morning and actually called each technician and when out of her way to accommodate me . They sent a a technician named Shane and not only did he explain to me what the source of the problem was he was professional and polite when he came in to my business . Shane then came in at early hours to accommodate my work schedule he was willing to come in Saturday or early morning Monday before business hours (keep in mind every other business couldn't even get me an estimate until Monday ). Also Natasha the person who handles the billing made me feel really comfortable and I feel comfortable keeping an account with them because they all seem on it and like they are trust worthy and know what they're doing . O'Connors is definitely your go to place who is going to save the day which is usually exactly what you need when you are calling around for termination / pest control! I highly recommend this team and feel so relieved I have a go to place now ! Thanks O'Connors , you helped my business run smoothly this week and I'm very appreciative !
Marissa D
Goleta, CA