As the colony gets larger, especially when your hive has successfully overwintered, the bees could build up quickly, sometimes escaping notice of the beekeeper. When they become overcrowded the existing queen, along with a portion of the hive, will just fly away, moving on in an attempt to find more suitable accommodations. In the original colony, a new queen will emerge and continue to maintain the parent colony.
Swarming presents a hazard to urban beekeeping as the new colony could alight under the eave of the house next door or some other unwanted location, causing alarm in the neighborhood and potentially bringing unwanted notice to your quiet backyard pastime. Even worse, there is the very real possibility you could lose half (maybe all) of your hive just like that!
Preventing a swarm is a great challenge to beekeeping itself. Learning to detect a potential one and prevent it is a very valuable skill that many beekeepers work hard to acquire.
In the event that your bees do swarm, if you can locate the splinter faction and it’s not too high, you may be able to gather them up and hive them again in your apiary.
Currently, BABA is assembling a list of beekeepers experienced in handling swarms. If you’re a member in good standing and would like to be added to it or would like more information, or if you need assistance removing a swarm, contact Bill Perkins at 617-388-7378 (available via text as well.)
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