Swarms

You have some bees buzzing in the garden, enjoying your flowers and doing you an excellent service by pollinating your herbs and veggies, maybe your lemon tree.

BUT... now you have a few more than you bargained for, lots...in a swarm.... on the bin, or on the branch of the aforementioned lemon tree.

Remember: Bees swarms on the whole ARE NOT aggressive. Bees are aggressive when they have something to defend and protect - brood (young) and honey (food)... a bee swarm does not have any of these things. Also, they have very full tummies, which makes them rather dopey. The bees gorge themselves on honey before they leave the original hive to tide them over until they make their new home.

Tip 1: Keep calm! Bees react like most animals to the smell of fear (bees have one of the highest sense of smell of all insects!) and can become defensive when a giant (to them) starts shrieking and racing around the place!

Tip 2: Make sure that the insect in question IS a bee swarm... sometimes a small congregation of insects (especially in the ground) can be yellow jackets (wasps) or hornets. You have googled pictures of your insect, it is a bee swarm - now you need to do something.

Tip 3: You can go inside and ignore them. In all likelihood, you have had a bee hive somewhere close to you for a while now. It is natural for a hive to swarm (split) at the beginning of spring when the nectar flow is good. This is how a bee hive reproduces. The reason the bee swarm is in your garden is because the swarm has 'hung up' a little-way-aways from the original hive and is now looking for a new home. They will move on from your garden probably within 1 day (24 hours from hang up). They are just chillin' in the garden while scout bees look around for a new place to call home. However...

Tip 4: Think about your roof space and if it has any openings, any chimney opening (esp if the chimney is not used), old trees with hollows, disused and dark garden sheds, brick/junk piles with hollow spaces... any of these can be used as a space for a hive. If you would rather NOT have a bee hive in any of these places, then either cover the area with a tarp if safe (leaving no spaces for a clever little lady to wriggle through - maybe use some of the bricks from the pile) or cross your fingers if it is a roof space!

Tip 5: The swarm has been there for a while - more than a few hours. This is the time to get on the phone to the local apiary society and try and get a keeper to collect the swarm. Most beekeepers will not collect from a roof space (for obvious safety reasons - we don't carry Santa Claus insurance) and once they are sited in the roof, they are difficult to access and to remove. Please be patient and call around, even if it is to a number of people - remember, most apiarists have at least one other job.

Tip 6: Charge your camera battery! It is quite the sight watching a swarm being collected!

DO NOT:

-Smoke the swarm - this makes them ANGRY! Smoke only works within a hive situation... you just increase the risk of being stung.

-Turn the hose on them to drown them - this makes them ANGRY! You will not kill all of them in one go and increase the risk of being stung.

-Spray them with pesticide - See above! You will not kill them all with the first spray. If you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO, call a professional. But please try everything you can to not 'call the guy'... our bees are in such decline across the world and we need every one of them!

*** Single Bee in the House:

A great tip for a single bee in the house is to use a water sprayer on mist (filled only with water), spray the lady gently until she lands on the floor (or flat surface) now her wings are wet. Then do the normal 'spider trick' (wide rimmed-glass over her-cardboard under her) and carry her out into a sunny spot to dry off and she can head home!