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Identifying a HoneyBee Swarm


What is a Swarm?

Swarms are a natural and common occurrence. Bees in a swarm are usually very calm. You are typically not in any danger as long as you do not disturb and keep a reasonable distance from bees. Honey bees are our friends; they are our partners in agriculture and the environment and help provide 33% of what we eat daily.


In order for a beekeeper to catch a swarm, the swarm must be in a dense, landed state and perched on some type of surface. This will appear to be a large ball of bees tightly knitted together. Swarms are often mistakenly reported when none is present or is mistaken as yellow jackets. Swarms move quickly and the opportunity is lost if beekeepers are chasing a false swarm call. Please review the material below to access if you have a honey bee swarm or not.

Important!!** Please do not spray or try to kill the bees. Although the bees appear to be calm, when they feel threatened, they will attack. Beekeepers will be able to easily tell when the bees have been sprayed.

Bee Removal

Identifying a Honey Bee Swarm
One easy way to tell a bee from wasp is the presence of hair, honeybees have hair. The hair on a bee helps with pollination from one flower to the next. A wasp will be very shiny and are usually skinnier than bees. When swarming, honey bees will not just be 20 or 100 bees, but can be upwards of 30,000 bees! When they are moving from tree to tree, it can be described as a "tornado" of bees. When they have landed, it looks almost like a size of flat basketball laying over tree branch and can be described as a "ball of bees". Honey bees are generally more orange in color rather than the yellow like the yellow jackets (see below image for yellow jacket vs honey bee.)One way to tell the difference is by looking at the legs. Yellow jackets have yellow legs and honey bee have brown legs.  Click Here for more pictures of swarms. 

Yellow Jacket Wasp

Yellow Jacket

Honey Bee
Honey Bee Swarm

Honey Bee

Honey Bee Swarm


What Can I Do To Help?

When bees swarm, time is of the essence. Honey bees are relatively easy to catch while they are swarming and are in a resting state. They will stay in their resting spot for several hours up to a day before finding a permanent place of dwelling.  Once they find a defendable nesting site and move in, removing (most likely would be a structure removal) is much more difficult and time consuming. We recommend acting fast to help avoid the swarm finding refuge in your home/office. Swarm removal costs are determined by the beekeeper and because of the difficulty and time involved when removing bees from a structure, structure removals will always have a cost.

Please visit the Swarm Rescue Page for contact information of local beekeepers.

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