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Swarms of Bees

Bee Control | April 10, 2018

Swarms of Bees

Spring is the time of year around Austin when wild and domestic honey bees swam. The swarm is the dividing of a large colony and it can be harmless to people or quite dangerous. Here is a closer look at honey bee swarming.

Why Do Honey Bees Swarm?

Swarming is literally the dividing of a large colony of bees. These can be domestic bees, or they can be wild honey bees. Wild honey bee colonies can exceed 10,000 bees and when a hive grows too large, it is difficult to house all those bees, feed all those bees, and monitor the health of the colony. Queen honeybees do all of this through their network of drone (female) workers.

A honey bee can fly 5-miiles to find food, but when a hive become too large, there is not enough pollen in a five-mile radius to feed all those bees, so the old queen takes a portion of the drones and flies off to find a new territory.

Interestingly enough, it is the old queen who leaves. It is risky for honey bees to swarm and she takes with her about 50-60 percent of the drones. She leaves behind a new queen and younger workers so that the risk of her progeny is decreased.

Are Swarming Bees Dangerous?

Swarming honey bees can be dangerous. Back some time ago, someone had the bright idea to cross the domestic honey bee with African honey bees to help improve the gene pool and resistance of the bees to certain diseases. Sadly, African honey bees are very aggressive, and the aggressive gene is dominant.

What that means is that Africanized honeybees are more aggressive than are yellow jackets and they do attack and kill things that threaten their hive. If you happen to be allergic to bee stings, then the situation is dire. Even if you are not allergic to bee stings, when 10,000 honeybees swarm to defend their queen or their hive, you are in real danger.

Can You Tell Africanized Honey Bees From Domestic Honey Bees?

Not safely. A swarm of bees is not always predictable, and these are social insects. They work based on pheromones. If one should release an aggregate pheromone then the entire swarm will attack. For that reason, you should never approach a swarm of bees. If you happen to see a swarm – whether it is on the ground, in a tree or shrub, or in the air, just go back indoors and call our professionals.

What Should You Do if You See a Swarm of Bees

The only thing you should ever do is move to safety. That means inside of a closed building. It is not that every swarm is going to attack you, but they could, and if they do, the consequences can be life-threatening if not deadly.

Never try to shoo off a swarm of bees. They will defend their queen with their lives. Honey bees can only sting once, but a drone will gladly sting you to defend her queen. With thousands of honey bees in a swarm, it won’t matter much that they only sting once.

We provide the great Austin area with quality pest control that is accurate, safe, and professional. We have all of the tools needed to care for honey bee swarms, even those that are Africanized.


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