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Honey Bee Swarms

Spring is Honey Bee swarm season! In Hanover County and neighboring areas, swarms are most plentiful from March through June. You may see swarms at other times as well but the peak swarm season is spring.

Honey Bee swarms are not produced to frighten unsuspecting citizens who come across a buzzing ball of bees in their landscape, but to create a new honey bee colony. The beneficial pollinators are following one of nature’s oldest rituals – starting a new colony during the time of the year when they may store enough honey to make it through the coming winter.

When bees swarm, half of the colony leaves home with their queen to start the new colony. The remaining bees in the old colony will rear a new queen. The issuing swarm is quite spectacular with thousands of bees filling the air with loud buzzing. Slowly, they coalesce around their queen on a tree limb or other object.

Swarm on a tree limb
Swarm on a tree limb


The swarm on a branch or mailbox is generally only resting while bee scouts find a suitable cavity for a new home; they typically move on within 24 hours. If you would like the bees removed in a more timely manner, beekeepers would be happy to relocate them for you, usually at no charge.

Because they have no food stores or young to protect, swarms are quite docile and pose no threat to people as long as they are not disturbed. However, the sight of them can be quite alarming. Please keep children and pets away in order to prevent an accident.

Removal is different between a swarm, temporarily bivouacked while the scouts look for a new nesting location, and a swarm that has moved into a space to form a colony.  Swarms are generally easier and faster to remove.  In most of the time, in just a hour or two.  Once a smarm has moved in and becomes a functional colony, removal can be a lot more involved and time consuming.  Depending on the situation, removal could take more than a month and may involve a fee.  Swarms are a large cluster of bees, all hanging onto something.  A colony has mostly flying bees with only a few dozen or so hanging around the entrance. When you contact a beekeeper about honey bees that you are seeing, be prepared to describe what you are seeing.  Taking a picture is helpful if you feel it can be done safely.

If you find a swarm of bees on your property, please do not spray them with pesticides; find one of the "Swarm Patrol" members below that covers the area where the swarm is located and give them a call. If they are not available, call another. Please give us a chance to come capture them and put them back to work pollinating our food crops.

Swarm Patrol

Hanover, Caroline, Louisa, Henrico, Goochland - Tony @ 804-306-1332
Henrico, Hanover, Richmond, Ashland - Rene @ 804-432-1331
Ashland, Western Hanover - Danny @ 804-572-0820
King William - Krissy @ 804-512-2736
Ashland, (Hanover, Montpelier, Glen Allen, Mechanicsville, Henrico, North Richmond, Richmond) - Bruce 804-278-7474
Ashland, Farrington, Elmont, Glen Allen - Ron 804-651-3504
Montpelier, Hanover, Northern Henrico  - Noy @ 804-904-9921

IMG_0575- Conrad Swarm - resized