Let me tell you about the birds and the bees ... well, just the bees and how to handle swarms this spring.
The warmer weather and beautiful blooms across the state are bringing the bees out of their hives and into the world of pollen. These super pollinators are extremely important to our entire ecosystem, so they are simply the bee's knees for our state.
Sometimes you'll see a few buzzing around your rose bushes, and sometimes you'll see a giant, buzzing cloud of them undulating toward the eaves of your house. 'Tis the season for swarms, which is simply a group of worker bees and the queen bee departing from their hive and searching for a place to form new honey bee colony. Often, they land and are just resting before they alight again to greener pastures. Sometimes, however, they take root and must be removed. It's not uncommon to see the swarm to land on trees, on or in structures, on vehicles, and more.
"Your firearms are useless against them!" Great movie, but there's no need to freak out over swarms. Courtesy of GIFER.
May and June are busy months for bees, though they can swarm until the end of the summer. If you find your outdoor spaces have attracted a swarm, removal and relocation is the preferred and humane way to handle them. Protecting bees is crucial, as Colony Collapse Disorder has taken a major toll. It's estimated that honeybee populations are less than half what they were in 1940, and that's disastrous for our food production and much more.
“If you are lucky enough to witness one of nature’s most fascinating migrations, a swarm, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO KILL THEM! Do not spray them with insecticide or water! These bees are ‘survivor bees’ and are crucial to our environmental health,” says the Colorado Beekeepers Association.
So what do you with a swarm on your property? First, stay calm. Contrary to what we have seen in cartoons, swarming bees aren't out for vengeance. In fact, they have generally fed before they have swarmed, reducing their ability to sting, and the farther away they are from their hive the less territorial they are. However, swinging arms and swatting at them is likely to get them riled up. Let's not forget these swarms are often hundreds to thousands of bees strong. Making them agitated is a quick way to earn yourself a trip to stingville.
In the face of a swarm, move away from it quietly, resist the urge to swat, and give yourself a buffer of space. Keep any pets away from the swarm, as well. Then, call in the pros to wrangle the bees, and enjoying observing the swarm from a distance until the beekeepers arrive.
The CBA suggests that if there is a swarm of bees on an outside location of your property, call the hotline at 1-844-SPY-BEES. A volunteer beekeeper will be happy to collect the bees and put them in a more appropriate home. They'll generally do it for free within a few hours. If the swarm happens to be in a structure, that will require a professional. You can check out the CBA's list of professionals who will extract the bees for a fee.
Have you seen a swarm this year or in previous years? Let us know in the comments.