Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Call the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association SWARM HOTLINE if you
see a honeybee swarm: 812-369-0401
For honeybees, the arrival of warm spring temperatures and plentiful flowering trees brings with it swarming season. Honeybees need a huge workforce to bring back all the nectar and pollen the colony needs to feed its growing population and keep it fed when Winter inevitably returns. So in early Spring, the colony’s size can explode exponentially. Sometimes, the colony outgrows the room available in its hive. When this happens the bees will swarm.
Swarming is how one colony splits itself into two. When swarming, the queen bee and approximately half of all her workers will decide to leave the hive, en masse, in search of a new home. Generally the swarm will first temporarily land somewhere close to their original home (e.g., on a tree branch, a porch rail, a mailbox, etc.). They form a protective ball of thousands of bees around the queen, while scouts seek out a suitable new permanent home. Once a new home has bee identified, the swarm will once again suddenly take flight en masse.
The half of the colony left behind in the original hive will raise a brand new queen of their own.
A honeybee swarm can be a fearsome sight. However, swarms should not be sprayed or otherwise harmed. Honey bees are the Georgia state insect. Observed from a respectful distance, a bee swarm can be a fascinating sight. Left alone, the cluster of bees will move on to their new home, usually within 24 hours. However, honeybees can sometimes take up residence where they are not wanted (e.g., in the walls of homes). Fortunately, beekeepers will gladly capture swarms and give them a proper new home.