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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.

Call the phone numbers below for referrals to qualified beekeepers in Long Beach and Los Angeles County.


City of Long Beach
562.570.4132

County of Los Angeles
800.BEE.WARY (800.233.9279)

Long Beach Beekeepers is a 501(c)3 organization

EIN# 81-4141237

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