Swarm Season Edition!
For the next month or so, honeybees reproduce by swarming. During this time, you may see a large cluster of bees on a bush or in a tree. If you see a swarm of bees do not worry! It is completely natural, and while swarming, bees are particularly docile. Generally, they will not bother you unless you disturb them. Swarming occurs when resources are plentiful, and the hive has become crowded. When this occurs, the workers raise a new queen, and then “pester” the old queen until she leaves the hive. Usually, 40-60 percent of the bee population leave with the queen and fly to a location several hundred feet or more from their hive. They cluster and then send out scouts looking for a new home. If all goes well, the old queen establishes a colony in a new location, and the old colony successfully raises a queen who then mates and begins to lay.
Capturing a swarm is a time-honored way for beekeepers to increase and diversify their bee stock. It also helps homeowners who find themselves with several thousand or more bees clinging to the eave of their house. If you see a swarm and live in Northern Virginia, contact email@example.com and I will promptly come and remove them to our apiary.