Honey Bee Swarms

In Blog by DougG

Honey bees are essential for the pollination of our plants. The honey produced is nothing more than delicious. But what about when they swarm?

Springtime is for Swarms …

“One of the most iconic and misunderstood behaviors of honeybees is the “swarm.” People fear the swarm – it conjures up thoughts of an unstoppable venomous aerial assault – and yet ironically it is the most friendly and tame way to encounter honeybees! Catching swarms is one of the most fun and exciting things about beekeeping, and is often the way that new beekeepers get started. My late grandfather started keeping bees when he caught a swarm in a cardboard box in downtown San Francisco. A swarm was how I got started as well. Until recently, I have only caught swarms and have never seen one leave a hive. To continue my National Pollinators Week series, I’m going to tell you all about swarms – including the biggest swarm I have ever seen, which came right out of one of my own hives.

In the springtime while flowers are blooming and bee hives thriving, worker bees get the itch to swarm. It often happens on very warm days after a cold spell in April to July, but sometimes as late as August or September! The earlier the swarm, the better. This is because it gives the bees more time to build up their new hive to produce honey, or make it through the winter. There’s a saying that goes,

A swarm in May
Is worth a load of hay.
A swarm in June
Is worth a silver spoon.
A swarm in July
Isn’t worth a fly.

So why do bees swarm?…


Understanding Honey Bee Swarms