Swarms

Give a Swarm a Good Home

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If you see honey bee swarm - a ball of bees in a tree or bush - that means they are seeking a new home. Help us find a good home for these bees - you don't want them nesting in your house. We will send a local member out to retrieve the colony for a better chance at survival. Please call Gina at 404-519-4141 right away before the swarm flies off to its new home.

Before you call, please have the following information:

  • How long has the swarm been at this location?
  • What is the exact address of the property where the swarm is located?
  • How high off the ground is the swarm?
  • Is the swarm in a structure or on a tree, bush, fence etc.?
  • What size is it? Softball? Cantaloupe? Football? Basketball?
  • Is there a phone number where you can be reached?
  • Can you take a photo of the swarm as close-up as you feel comfortable?

Push to Call to Report a Swarm

If you are not viewing this from a smartphone, call 404-519-4141.

About Honey Bee Swarms

Honey bees are the only type of bee that swarms. It is a reproductive strategy of the bees, creating two or more new colonies from the original one. Swarming occurs mostly in the spring to enable the newly established colony sufficient time to gather sufficient food (nectar/honey) to survive the coming winter.

The swarmed bees form a temporary cluster or bivouac prior to moving into more permanent housing. While the bees bivouac, scout bees are searching the area looking for an optimal new home. Thomas Seeley's book Honey Bee Democracy tells the fascinating story of how he determined what a honey bee's criterion is for selecting a new home and how they make a decentralized, collective decision. Optimal criteria for a bee home includes:

  • a dry, sheltered volume of approximately 40 litres
  • an entrance 10 feet above ground
  • an entrance small enough to reduce drafts and to defend
  • an entrance large enough for bees to come and go

That optimal home often ends up being inside the walls or joists of somebody's house...which results in an expensive extraction. Homes should be carefully inspected periodically, and all openings, even very small ones, should be repaired, and either screened or sealed.

Beekeepers try to control swarming in their own hives because a hive can lose nearly half of its workforce when it swarms. Fewer bees, less honey. However, beekeepers also like to collect swarms because they are free bees and they increase honey production.

Don't hurt that swarm!

If you think you may have a swarm of honey bees, do not molest the swarm or kill them. Honey bees are the state insect of Georgia and are protected by law in the State of Georgia.

You may decide to do nothing if you have a swarm. As a rule, the swarm will identify a new nesting site on its own and will move to it within twenty-four hours. However, having the swarm removed by a MABA member is preferred because:

  • The honey bee colony is less likely to end up making their home in somebody's house
  • The colony is more likely to survive if lives in a beekeeper's hive where it can be tested for Varroa mites and other diseases that currently devastate colonies.
  • With the help of a beekeeper, the swarm colony can produce an excess of honey (that beekeepers keep). And who doesn't like local honey?

Want to be a Swarm Chaser?

MABA members can simply request to be added to the club's swarm list. You will indicate how high you are willing to climb to retrieve a swarm and where you live. The swarm list manager will make the call based on queue order, location, and preferences. To learn more, visit the Get Free Bees page.

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