So you think you have a bee swarm?
If you're in the Indianapolis area or in the western suburbs, you should call me. But first, compare your swarms to the photos here...
This is what a swarm looks like. This swarm is in a small maple tree, but a swarm could be hanging off a tree, a shrub, or the gutters of your house. They would not be in a hole in the ground or in a paper or mud nest on your home or property. If this is your problem, you have a problem with wasps or yellowjackets, and only a licensed exterminator is allowed to help you. It's against Indiana law for me to even suggest what type of spray to use on them.
However, if they're hanging like a huge bunch of grapes, then you can call me, and I'll see what I can do about coming over and getting the honey bees and giving them a new home.
Are they dangerous? No, but the longer they've been there, the greater the risk of stinging. The risk is pretty low. These bees are interested in finding a new home. They're not worried about protecting a home yet (they don't have one), so unless you're perceived as a threat to their lives, you won't be stung. However, discretion is advised. If anyone has a beesting allergy, they should stay away.
When they arrived, they were like a black tornado. What is this? This is perhaps 20,000 honeybees hanging close to the queen bee. Yes, in the very center of that huge clump, there's a queen. The queen, and all the workers, are looking for a new home.
What causes a swarm A beehive, with a queen, perhaps 80,000 workers (females) and perhaps 1,000 drones (males) was getting overcrowded. One or more new queens was laid in the old hive, and the original queen with perhaps half of the population of workers said "Adios!" and left the old home, in search of a new one. They landed in your tree, probably not all that far from where they were living. Scout bees (a handful of the workers) leave the swarm and go looking for a potential new home. It could be a hollow tree, an unused beehive, or the hollow wall of a building. They look for something with a small defendable entrance with space inside to build honeycomb and raise a family of 80,000 worker bees.
Can I try to poison them or burn them out? Absolutely not. Many years ago, a farmer tried to rouse a swarm with dynamite and lost his arm. Besides, honey bees are extremely valuable to the economy, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The natural population of honey bees is all but gone due to parasitic mites and diseases, and these bees which gardeners and farmers rely on, exist almost exclusively in beekeepers' yards. Chances are, the bees in your yard came from a domestic hive. And chances are, if these bees go off and live in a tree, the parasitic mites will kill them all in a year or two.
Do you charge to remove the bees? Officially no. Furthermore, we assume no risks of any liabilities when you call us. You're inviting us onto your property and we'll gladly do our best to remove the bees. If they're in a good location, we'll be successful. You may see only a few lost bees hanging around for a few days, as these are the lost scouts... they'll wander off and either die or join a hive somewhere. However, the beekeeper who removes the bees will have to invest a great deal of time and money to get this cluster established elsewhere. If you see fit to donate to their upkeep, the beekeeper will likely give you visitation rights and even provide you with some honey later this year or next near from these bees. How much of a donation? It's up to you, but you'd pay $100 for exterminators to show up and kill the bees.
Are there cases where you won't take the bees? If the bees are in the wall of a building, too high in the air for a stepladder to reach, we probably won't be able to get them. If the swarm has been there more than a day or so, we probably will have trouble retrieving them. The earlier you call, the better. That's because the bees gorged themselves on honey before leaving home, but once they're looking for a new home, they begin to starve to death. The sooner we get them in a new hive, the better their chances... and the better their temperament. Bee swarms are common only during the spring. By the start of summer they're pretty rare and any later than that, their chances of survival are pretty low. If we can't or won't come out to retrieve the bees, they'll move on within a few days or slowly die. In any case, you're best to leave them alone. Don't try to spray them, poison them, burn them or startle them. Honey bees are not your enemy!
Were you serious about visition rights and some honey? You bet. Honey bees are fascinating creatures, and if you'd like to visit us on a sunny warm day, we'll show you inside a working beehive, up close and personal! There is some advice on clothing, but you'll be fascinated.
Okay, Okay! I'm sold. Come on over and get these bees. How do I reach you? Call 317.536.9800 or email me at
Did you see the PBS special on honeybees? Yes. It was great. If you missed it, there's lots of information at this address www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bees/hive.html