Juniper Times

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Honey Bee Swarms

Honey Bee swarms often frighten people who sight them, although they are usually not as dangerous as most perceive. Bee swarms generally occur as a part of the reproduction cycle. As a hive becomes overcrowded, the queen bee begins to lay eggs in the queen cells. Queen cells are unique cells in the honeycomb in which queen larvae are produced. The young virgin queen larvae are fed solely on royal jelly, an excretion from the worker bees. The diet of royal jelly causes these bees to mature fully, creating queens.

Queen Bee

As the virgin queens hatch, they begin fighting. The bees sting each other in attempt to gain control of the colony. Unlike other bees of the colony, queens do not have barbed stingers, and may sting repeatedly. As a part of the colony prepares to swarm, the queen bee stops laying eggs and eats less. The lighter the bee is, the easier it is for her to fly. The queen and a portion of the colony will leave and fly to a temporary location.

Finding a Place to Nest

A swarm may contain the old queen, as well as one or more virgin queens. Swarms land in a spot for up to a couple days. During this period, the bees are generally not aggressive, as they are full of honey and tired from their flight. The temporary location is merely a resting spot while the scouts find a new nesting location. Bees in a swarm will sting if agitated, but the purpose of a swarm is not to attack as many people envision.

Bee swarms can be picked up by beekeepers. It is important to not spray any type of poison on the bees, nor spray them with a garden hose. A bee exterminator will spray chemicals and not only kill the bees, but put the owner of the property in physical danger. Beekeepers take the bees and relocate them, without using harmful chemicals to either party. Saving the bees is crucial because there is a shortage of bees amongst farmers in California. Bees play an imperative role in the pollination of many crops.