Do You Have a Swarm On Your Hands?

swarm in wallWhat is a Swarm?

Before calling a beekeeper, please consider the following questions and be prepared to answer a few questions.

1. Is this really a swarm?

Consider these points.

  • Time of Year
  • Appearance

Swarms mostly occur in the Spring, rarely in the early fall, and almost never in the late summer.

A honey bee swarm can be described as a compact ball of bees, as small as a grapefruit (uncommon), to the size of a football (most common), to as large as a basketball (also uncommon). No nest materials will be seen or found. If you see a nest, it is not a swarm. If they are honey bees (see next question) then this is an established hive. It can be removed but is more difficult.

Swarms also appear suddenly. You may even see them settle onto the branch or bush. If you see this exciting moment, then you definitely have a honey bee swarm.

2. Are these Honey Bees?

Consider these points.

  • Fuzzy or Shiny?
  • Color - Yellow or Brown

honeybee facing rightTake a look at these two photos of honey bees.honeybee facing left

Yellow Jacket wasps are frequently mistaken for Honey Bees. Yellow Jackets are YELLOW.

This is a yellowjacket: yellowjacket wasp

Honey Bees can be

  • BROWN or even
  • GREY

Honey Bees also are furry. The fur helps the bees keep warm all winter. Yellow Jackets have no fur because they do not live through the winter, instead, individual queens hibernate underground.

3. Where is the swarm located?

Consider these points.

  • Inside or Outside?
  • High or Low?

A swarm will settle on a branch, bush, or even objects like cars or hydrants. If the honey bees are INSIDE, then it either is an established hive or not honey bees. If it is an established hive, it may be very difficult to remove. Expect to pay a fee for removal.

If the nest is underground, in Maryland, this is most likely a yellow jacket nest, but not honey bees. If the swarm is very high, it may be too difficult to capture. Give the beekeeper an honest opinion of its height.

List of Maryland Beekeepers Who Remove Swarms