A swarm is honey bee reproduction at the colony level. Swarming is a natural reproductive phenomenon where a large portion of the worker bees and the queen bee leave an established bee colony. Before swarming, the queen will lay queen cells, and a new queen bee is born to take on the queenrole in the existing colony.

Bees are triggered to swarm by a variety of stimuli, but most often it is related to congestion of the established hive and/or the availability of nectar and pollen. They will need lots of resources to build a new hive! Swarming activity in Tucson is highest in spring and summer months during warmer temperatures and when most plants are blooming.

During swarm season, you may see a cloud of buzzing bees fly past you, or you may find a bee swarm hanging in your tree. At this stage, the bees are essentially homeless and are sending out scout bees to find a suitable place to build a hive. (You may have noticed scout bees flying around your roofline sizing up the place!) Once the scout bees find such a site, they will communicate to the rest of the swarm that it’s time to move in!

If you see a swarm on your property, the risk of not having it removed is that the bees may find a suitable hive location in your roof, shed, perimeter wall, or any other structure or cavity. It is best to avoid the area where the swarm is located and prevent any disturbance to the bees (they are protecting their queen, afterall). Note: Swarms can be easily confused with with open hives (hives built in the open, outside of a structure) which will contain very aggressive bees. Call a professional!