Bee Careful

| Alexandra Duemer

Honeybee swarms are now occurring due to rising spring temperatures. The DC Ranch Association Maintenance and Landscape teams will post signage to warn residents as these swarms are noticed or reported. Due to the overall decline of honeybees throughout the world, swarms will not be removed unless there is an imminent risk to residents.

Swarming is a natural process in the life of a honeybee colony. Swarming occurs when a large group of honeybees leave an established colony to create a new one, essentially creating two colonies from one. Swarming is a natural method of propagation that occurs in response to crowding within the colony. Swarming usually occurs late spring and early summer during the warmer hours of the day.

Honeybee swarms may contain several hundred to several thousand worker bees, a few drones and one queen. Swarming bees fly around briefly and then cluster on a tree limb, shrub or other object. Clusters usually remain stationary for an hour to a few days, depending on weather and the time needed to find a new nest site by scouting bees. When a suitable location for the new colony is found, such as a hollow tree, the cluster breaks up and flies to it.

Honeybee swarms are not highly dangerous under most circumstances. Swarming honeybees feed prior to swarming, reducing their ability to sting. Further, bees away from the vicinity of their nest (offspring and food stores) are less defensive and are unlikely to sting unless provoked.

In most situations when a honeybee swarm is found on a tree, shrub or house you do not need to do anything. Swarms are temporary and the bees will move on if you patiently ignore them. Stay back and keep others away from the swarm, but feel free to admire and appreciate the bees from a safe distance.