|Honey bee swarm; do not panic|
|Wednesday, June 12, 2013 11:00 PM|
BY JIM LOPSHIRE
A cluster of bees hanging on the branch of a tree or on the side of a building is a sure cause for human excitement. This is referred to as honey bee swarming.
A swarm is the way honey bees start a new colony. Honey bee swarms can contain thousands of bees that have broken away from the original colony, including workers, drones and the original queen.
Swarms of bees sometimes frighten people, though they are usually not aggressive at this stage of their life cycle. This is principally due to the fact that swarming bees have no hive to defend and are more interested in finding a new nesting point for their queen. This does not mean that bee swarms will not attack if they perceive a threat; however, most bees only attack in response to intrusions against their hive and swarming bees have no hive.
The queen is at the center of the swarm. Her pheromones attract the other bees to her. A few scout bees will leave the swarm to seek out a suitable location for a nest, such as a cavity in a tree. When a location is found, the swarm will move to the site.
Oftentimes, local beekeepers are willing to capture a swarm. If you do not know one, give the Extension office a call. The beekeeper will place an empty container, such as a bee hive, at the base of the swarm, and shake or dislodge the bees from the swarm into the entrance. The now-occupied hive can be moved after dark, when the bees are done foraging and are less active.
Occasionally, honey bees will attempt to nest in house walls. The OSU Extension Fact Sheet, “Honey Bees in House Walls” (ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/pdf/2079.pdf) provides detailed information on removing a honey bee colony from structures.
This will be my final newspaper article, as I will be retiring as Extension county educator. My last day in the office will be Monday June 17. Paulding County has continued to support the Paulding County Extension program which has remained an active and integral part of the county. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of that experience for over the past twelve years.