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swarming: what are the bees doing? what should you do?

Peace of Mind Included

For many of us, the American Dream includes a comfortable home with room to grow. That’s definitely true of the honey bee. When a bee colony outgrows a home – whether it be a managed hive box, a tree trunk or a hole in the wall – it’s time to move, or swarm. The worker bees facilitate their decision to move by making a new queen. A honey bee colony, however, may only accommodate one queen. The old queen and the newly hatched queen either fight to the death or form a truce of sorts and part company. A large group of bees leaves the nest with one of the queens in search of a new home. The exiled queen and the majority of her subjects huddle together while a few scouts search for a suitable new home. That huddled mass of bees is a swarm. It may look intimidating, but swarms are generally quite docile. Bees are territorial in nature and a swarm, by definition, is homeless with no territory to defend.

A swarm may only stay as long as it takes to relocate, which may only take a few hours or a few days. If bees move onto your property and you’re not quite ready to be a beekeeper, Long Beach Beekeepers encourages you to engage a beekeeper to remove the bees humanely instead of exterminating them.

What about the original hive? The exodus of bees leaves the remaining bees with plenty of room. If this is a managed hive, lesson learned for the beekeeper to inspect often to ensure hive conditions do not encourage swarming. 

Got bees? Get a Beekeeper


Pollinators like honey bees are vital to our food chain.

Don’t exterminate. Relocate.

These entities will provide a list of qualified beekeepers for hire to help re-home a swarm.


City of Long Beach
562.570.4132

County of Los Angeles
626.575.5466

Honey Bee Allies
844.856.2337
beeallies.com

Long Beach Beekeepers is a 501(c)3 organization

EIN# 81-4141237

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