They will stay in this swarm phase until they can find a suitable permanent home, and then the whole cluster will move. It can be very intimidating to see the sky filled with honey bees, or them massed together in a cluster, but please remember, honey bees are non-aggressive, and when they are swarming they are extremely docile. (They have no territory to defend!)
When large groups of bees are found dead, its because a swarm has been killed. Often, people will spray them with pesticides or insecticides. This is obviously fatal to the bees, as well as sending unnecessary harmful chemicals into the environment. Another likely scenario is that a concerned homeowner will call animal control of the fire department like what happened recently in St. Paul.
A swarm was spotted downtown and the fire department was called in. Late at night, the fire department sprayed the colony with flame retardant, which is what they are instructed and trained to do. This is an understandable event, but we need to take better steps to help save our pollinators. Without honey bees, food prices will skyrocket as well as the variety of foods we have access to will plummet.
So what should you do if you spot a swarm? The best thing to do is just to leave it be. Swarms will only stick around for a day or two. If they are high in a tree, or in a place that can easily be avoided, just leave them be. They’ll be gone soon. However, if they are in a place where you need them be removed, such as in your garage, or on your car’s wheel well, we are in a fortunate position in MN to have some of the best resources available.
If you see a swarm please get in contact with us and our partners, the beekeepers at Turkey Hill Apiary, will be glad to come get it.
For more information about honey bees and the University of Minnesota’s extensive community outreach, check out the Bee Lab website.
And always remember: Bee safe and bee friendly!