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5 ways you can help bees

  • Plant things that bees like
  • Provide bee habitat
  • Eliminate garden pesticides
  • Let your veggies bolt
  • Support local beekeepers

Swarms are natural

Honey bees are the only type of bees that swarm. It is part of their natural reproductive lifecycle. The swarming season in MN usually begins in May and can last through September and sometimes October. Warm weather and plentiful supplies of flowers and pollen stimulate the queen to lay more eggs. The resulting large numbers of young bees causes overcrowding in the hive, impeding both the queen’s desire to lay eggs and the worker bees’ ability to add more nectar and pollen. Swarms are the natural outcome of these circumstances.

Fortunate are those who witness a swarm of bees flying to a resting place. Honey bees are not early risers and usually fly between 10AM and 2PM on a sunny day. The queen and about half the colony (5,000 to 20,000 worker bees) will swirl from their hive and alight on a tree branch, fire hydrant, mailbox or even a car. The bees form a tight cluster around the queen while scout bees go out looking for a hollow space in which to make their new home. It may take a few hours or up to two days for a new home to be chosen. Bees in a swarm are not aggressive or inclined to sting while they wait. They are lazy and have filled their bellies with honey before leaving the hive, since they knew they would be without food until they found their new location. They are temporarily homeless, so they have nothing to defend.If you see a swarm, it’s best to leave it alone. Do not spray it with insecticide, as it makes them sick, dead, or in any case, ineffective as valuable pollinators.If you find a swarm of honey bees that needs collecting, contact our swarm chaser chairman to have the bees safely gathered. It is best to prevent swarms from establishing themselves in someone’s residence or garage, where they will become a nuisance. For this reason, we encourage you to call as soon as possible, before the swarm has a chance to establish itself.Call Bob Sitko at 651-436-7915 or by email at dsrhsitko@msn.com. He keeps a list of MN beekeepers that be able to safely retrieve the swarm and give it a proper home. Bees collected and relocated in this way can then continue doing their good deeds of pollinating and making honey. We appreciate your help in protecting honey bee swarms.

When you call Bob, be prepared to answer the following questions:

  1. How long has the swarm been there?
  2. Where are they located?
  3. What is your phone number?
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Two examples of swarms in a tree.

 

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Honey bee colony that has made a home under some rarely used steps.