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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Swarming Honey Bees.

I realize that honeybees are not technically native, but they along with the rest of the native pollinators still provide an important service to our food industry known as the magic of pollination. While the jury is still out on the impact of honeybees on native pollinators, apiarists have become quite common around the area. As bee swarming season is about to get underway (tomorrow!!), I thought it would be pertinent to pass along some information about swarming from the Chester County Beekeepers Association. 

A honeybee cannot live alone but depends on the colony for survival. To propagate the species, a swarm (about half the colony and the queen) moves to a new home. The other half of the colony remains in the hive and raises a new queen. In Southeastern Pennsylvania, most swarms emerge in April, May and June.  After exiting their former hive, the swarm may settle on a tree branch, a bush or the side of a building. The swarm normally forms a football-shaped cluster of bees that may be up to three feet long. Scout bees fly from the swarm to look for a new home in a hollow tree or in the eaves of a building. When a suitable spot is found, the scout bees direct the swarm to it. The bees then construct a new honeycomb nest with wax they produce themselves begin to gather nectar and pollen for food and to raise young.
If you find a swarm of honeybees on your turf and don’t want it there, members of the Chester County Beekeepers Association (CCBA) listed at the end of this article are willing to remove the swarm. Time is of the essence. Once the swarm has entered its new home, removal of the honeybees is much more difficult and may involve opening the wall of a house to get to the bee colony. This is generally beyond the capability of most beekeepers, so contact one of them while the bees are still clustered in a swarm.

Honeybees are a valuable part of nature because they pollinate crops, produce honey, beeswax, pollen and their stings are widely accepted as an aid in the treatment of arthritis. So, as you observe them swarming, contemplate this marvelous phenomenon and call a beekeeper to remove the swarm and put it to beneficial use. The listed members of CCBA will remove honeybee swarms, usually at no cost.The Chester County Beekeepers Association takes no responsibility for the services provided by its members. This information is provided only as a public service.

For more information, contact: Cindy Faulkner, CCBA President 610- 235-7869

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