Q. What is a Swarm? and why is there a “Swarm season”?

What is a Swarm?

A Swarm is the reproductive function of a colony of honey bees.

Typically, the queen mother will split off the original colony of bees, leaving to build a new hive elsewhere with 40-60% of the worker bees from the original colony.

In doing so, queen mother leaves behind the newly hatched daughter queen with the remaining bees to continue their existence in their original location.

The part of the colony that leaves may be referred to as a Swarm (noun), not to be confused with the activity of swarming, which is the process taking place (verb).

The Swarm will typically settle in a temporary location (wall, tree, bush, shed, etc) within 30 yards or so for a couple hours to a couple days, while the colony sends out scouts bees to find their perfect “forever home”.

Swarm in a Shed

These scout bees will come back to the colony and report their findings by doing a dance on the outside of the Swarm in its temporary location.

A selection is made by the colony and the bees fly as a rolling cloud of bees to the location and start building wax honeycomb to store their food and produce more bees.

Swarm in Flight

Once honeycomb is present, the colony is no longer referred to as a Swarm and the process of swarming is completed.

Colony on a Statue (no longer a Swarm due to presence of wax comb)

In Florida, depending on the genetics, colonies can swarm anywhere from 2-9 times per year.

Although Swarms can be intimidating due to the sheer number of bees, the honey bees are actually the most docile at this point since they have no food nor babies to protect and are merely looking for a new home.

It’s important to note that although docile, poking them with a stick, spraying them with anything or any other aggravating activity may still cause defensive behavior and may cause someone to get stung by one or more bees.

Why do Swarms happen?

A Swarm can occur for a number of reasons:

  • Reproductive function of the colony, typically when there’s an abundance of food available
  • Bees ran out of room for the queen to lay sufficient eggs to maintain colony growth at their current location (too small)
  • Hive location is less than ideal to start with (not protected enough from rain, wind, etc)
  • There’s a pest inside the hive that the bees cannot get under control, so they leave to preserve their genetics rather than being overrun by the pest (genetic preservation)
  • There’s a reoccurring pest or disturbance outside the hive that poses a threat to the bees
Swarm on Swing

What is Swarm Season?

Swarm Season occurs during times when there is good “nectar flow”, referring to large number of blooms from one specific and prolific and/or various floral sources.

Primary floral sources throughout most of SW Florida include, but are not limited to:

  • Oaks (spring)
  • Mangrove (spring)
  • Citrus/Orange Blossom (spring)
  • Palmetto (late spring and summer)
  • Palms (late spring summer)
  • Melaleuca (late summer and fall)
  • Brazilian Pepper (spring and fall)

The time period for any one floral / bloom source is typically 4-6 weeks, where that particular flowers nectar and/or pollen will be available.

White Mangrove Bloom with Honey Bee

When does Swarm Season occur in SW Florida?

In SW Florida, it is possible for Swarm Season to start as early as December after “winter solstice” as the days get longer again or as late as March, if it’s a particularly cold winter.

Typically, it ends with the Brazilian pepper blooming as early as Sep or as late as Nov.

Our weather is fickle, so one year can be very different from the next.

Nationwide, the more active Swarm Seasons occurs right after “winter” as things warm up and spring starts with blooms everywhere; and in Florida, it also occurs again in the fall due to the prolific amount of Brazilian Pepper everywhere.

Brazilian Pepper blooming with Honey Bee

Gulf Coast Beekeepers Association Meeting | Charlotte County | Dec 17 2019

December 17, 2019 @ 18:30 19:30 EST

At our meetings, Gulf Coast Beekeepers of Florida members will educate and mentor beekeepers of all skill levels with practical and pertinent beekeeping information. Come ask your questions!

You don’t have to be a beekeeper (yet) to join us, just have a sincere interest in honey bees. For Collier county, click here

We will be discussing:

  • what should be going on in your hive that month,
  • any current problems we face as beekeepers,
  • current pest and infections along with IPM strategies (integrated pest management)
  • BMPs, local and state legislature affecting beekeepers
  • as well as where to get equipment and supplies locally
  • local bee-related events.

Tentative Schedule (subject to change without notice):

  • Jan – feeding & winter hive maintenance – inaugural meeting
  • Feb – preparing for the upcoming honey flows
  • Mar – supering & swarm prevention
  • Apr – requeening & how to catch a swarm
  • May – indentifying your nectar and pollen sources (going into the hives in Collier – members only)
  • Jun – harvesting honey
  • Jul – requeening
  • Aug – products from the hive & harvesting honey
  • Sep – preparing for the last nectar flow & swarm prevention
  • Oct – final honey flows
  • Nov – preparing your hives for winter
  • Dec – holiday party

UF IFAS Extension Charlotte County

25550 Harbor View Rd #3
Port Charlotte, Florida 33980 United States
+ Google Map

Gulf Coast Beekeepers Association Meeting | Collier County | Dec 9 2019

December 9, 2019 @ 19:00 20:00 EST

At our meetings, Gulf Coast Beekeepers of Florida members will educate and mentor beekeepers of all skill levels with practical and pertinent beekeeping information. Come ask your questions!

You don’t have to be a beekeeper (yet) to join us, just have a sincere interest in honey bees. For Charlotte county, click here

We will be discussing:

  • what should be going on in your hive that month,
  • any current problems we face as beekeepers,
  • current pest and infections along with IPM strategies (integrated pest management)
  • BMPs, local and state legislature affecting beekeepers
  • as well as where to get equipment and supplies locally
  • local bee-related events.

Tentative Schedule (subject to change without notice):

  • Jan – feeding & winter hive maintenance – inaugural meeting
  • Feb – preparing for the upcoming honey flows
  • Mar – supering & swarm prevention
  • Apr – requeening & how to catch a swarm
  • May – indentifying your nectar and pollen sources (going into the hives in Collier – members only)
  • Jun – harvesting honey
  • Jul – requeening
  • Aug – products from the hive & harvesting honey
  • Sep – preparing for the last nectar flow & swarm prevention
  • Oct – final honey flows
  • Nov – preparing your hives for winter
  • Dec – holiday party

Gulf Coast Beekeepers Association

239-558-1130

https://www.facebook.com/gulfcoastbees/

UF / IFAS Extension Collier County

14700 Immokalee Rd
Naples, Florida 34120 United States
+ Google Map

Gulf Coast Beekeepers Association Meeting | Charlotte County | Nov 19 2019

November 19, 2019 @ 18:30 19:30 EST

At our meetings, Gulf Coast Beekeepers of Florida members will educate and mentor beekeepers of all skill levels with practical and pertinent beekeeping information. Come ask your questions!

You don’t have to be a beekeeper (yet) to join us, just have a sincere interest in honey bees. For Collier county, click here

We will be discussing:

  • what should be going on in your hive that month,
  • any current problems we face as beekeepers,
  • current pest and infections along with IPM strategies (integrated pest management)
  • BMPs, local and state legislature affecting beekeepers
  • as well as where to get equipment and supplies locally
  • local bee-related events.

Tentative Schedule (subject to change without notice):

  • Jan – feeding & winter hive maintenance – inaugural meeting
  • Feb – preparing for the upcoming honey flows
  • Mar – supering & swarm prevention
  • Apr – requeening & how to catch a swarm
  • May – indentifying your nectar and pollen sources (going into the hives in Collier – members only)
  • Jun – harvesting honey
  • Jul – requeening
  • Aug – products from the hive & harvesting honey
  • Sep – preparing for the last nectar flow & swarm prevention
  • Oct – final honey flows
  • Nov – preparing your hives for winter
  • Dec – holiday party

UF IFAS Extension Charlotte County

25550 Harbor View Rd #3
Port Charlotte, Florida 33980 United States
+ Google Map

Gulf Coast Beekeepers Association Meeting | Collier County | Nov 11 2019

November 11, 2019 @ 19:00 20:00 EST

At our meetings, Gulf Coast Beekeepers of Florida members will educate and mentor beekeepers of all skill levels with practical and pertinent beekeeping information. Come ask your questions!

You don’t have to be a beekeeper (yet) to join us, just have a sincere interest in honey bees. For Charlotte county, click here

We will be discussing:

  • what should be going on in your hive that month,
  • any current problems we face as beekeepers,
  • current pest and infections along with IPM strategies (integrated pest management)
  • BMPs, local and state legislature affecting beekeepers
  • as well as where to get equipment and supplies locally
  • local bee-related events.

Tentative Schedule (subject to change without notice):

  • Jan – feeding & winter hive maintenance – inaugural meeting
  • Feb – preparing for the upcoming honey flows
  • Mar – supering & swarm prevention
  • Apr – requeening & how to catch a swarm
  • May – indentifying your nectar and pollen sources (going into the hives in Collier – members only)
  • Jun – harvesting honey
  • Jul – requeening
  • Aug – products from the hive & harvesting honey
  • Sep – preparing for the last nectar flow & swarm prevention
  • Oct – final honey flows
  • Nov – preparing your hives for winter
  • Dec – holiday party

Gulf Coast Beekeepers Association

239-558-1130

https://www.facebook.com/gulfcoastbees/

UF / IFAS Extension Collier County

14700 Immokalee Rd
Naples, Florida 34120 United States
+ Google Map

Bee 101 | Become a Beekeeper | Hands-on Workshop | Nov 2-3, 2019

November 2, 2019 @ 09:00 November 3, 2019 @ 16:00 EDT

Become a Beekeeper Workshop
Beekeeper Education

Intro to Beekeeping | Become a Beekeeper Hands-On Series, includes Suiting Up and Going into the Hives (2-days)

This is a unique and one of a kind opportunity to actually work the bees in actual bee hives as part of the Hands-on portion of the workshop. We will suit you up and take a close look at the bees. You will be learning how to use the tools, what you are looking for and have personal hands-on experience working in the hive. Learn from a UF Advanced Master Beekeeper [not included in the non-beekeeper ticket


Class Lecture on Saturday, Nov 2nd from 9am-4pm at UF / IFAS Charlotte County Extension, at 25550 Harbor View Rd # 3, Port Charlotte, FL 33980

  • Becoming a Beekeeper
  • Basic Tools
  • Hive Equipment
  • How to Get Started
  • Maintaining Your Hive
  • Working Bees
  • Hive Structure
  • Colony Structure 
  • General Management
  • SW Florida Forage
  • Products of the Hive
  • Honey Harvesting
  • Pests & Diseases

Hands-On Workshop on Sun, Nov 3rd from 12pm-4/5pm at GreenView Aquaponics Family Farm & Apiary, at 4160 Old Burnt Store Road, N, Cape Coral, FL 33993

  • Bee PPE/Lighting Smoker – how to do it the right way.
  • Hive Building – build your hive and frames onsite using our jigs, nails, staples
  • Hive Inspections/Splits – over-the-shoulder with UF Advanced Master Beekeeper  
  • Into the Hive – hands-on experince with the bees. YOU will be working with the bees.

Students receive a Basic Start Up Kit that includes:

  • 10-frame Langstroth Hive w Deep Hive Body, 10 frames with Foundation, Migratory Top Board and Bottom Board,
  • Beekeeper Veil,
  • Gloves,
  • Smoker, 
  • Hive Tool

Membership included:

  • Gulf Coast Beekeepers of Florida – 1 yr

Does not include BEEs or FDACS Beekeeper Registration.

Waiver required for Hands-on Workshop portion.  Discounts for couples that only want one set of equipment. Additional equipment and protective gear available for purchase at 10% discount at the workshop.


REGISTRATION ends on Wednesday, Oct 30th at 11:30pm. REGISTER TODAY, so you don’t miss out!


Already have everything listed in the Basic Start Up Kit?  Simply give us a jingle at 239-558-1130 and you may be able to sign up as an ADDITIONAL Family Member instead.


NOT SURE if Beekeeping is for you? Simply register for Saturday classroom only portion. If you change your mind during the class and we have equipment available, you may be able to upgrade to full registration to add Sunday and Basic Beekeeping Kit at that time. Limited seats available. Register early



Building equipment

Click HERE for More Information and Photos of past events

Hive inspection

GreenView Aquaponics Family Farm & Apiary

239-443-5597

www.gvafarm.com

GreenView Aquaponics Family Farm & Apiary

4160 Old Burnt Store Road N
Cape Coral, Florida 33993 United States
+ Google Map
239-443-5597
www.gvafarm.com

Gulf Coast Beekeepers Association Meeting | Charlotte County | Oct 15 2019

October 15, 2019 @ 18:30 19:30 EDT

At our meetings, Gulf Coast Beekeepers of Florida members will educate and mentor beekeepers of all skill levels with practical and pertinent beekeeping information. Come ask your questions!

You don’t have to be a beekeeper (yet) to join us, just have a sincere interest in honey bees. For Collier county, click here

We will be discussing:

  • what should be going on in your hive that month,
  • any current problems we face as beekeepers,
  • current pest and infections along with IPM strategies (integrated pest management)
  • BMPs, local and state legislature affecting beekeepers
  • as well as where to get equipment and supplies locally
  • local bee-related events.

Tentative Schedule (subject to change without notice):

  • Jan – feeding & winter hive maintenance – inaugural meeting
  • Feb – preparing for the upcoming honey flows
  • Mar – supering & swarm prevention
  • Apr – requeening & how to catch a swarm
  • May – indentifying your nectar and pollen sources (going into the hives in Collier – members only)
  • Jun – harvesting honey
  • Jul – requeening
  • Aug – products from the hive & harvesting honey
  • Sep – preparing for the last nectar flow & swarm prevention
  • Oct – final honey flows
  • Nov – preparing your hives for winter
  • Dec – holiday party

UF IFAS Extension Charlotte County

25550 Harbor View Rd #3
Port Charlotte, Florida 33980 United States
+ Google Map

Gulf Coast Beekeepers Association Meeting | Collier County | Oct 14 2019

October 14, 2019 @ 19:00 20:00 EDT

At our meetings, Gulf Coast Beekeepers of Florida members will educate and mentor beekeepers of all skill levels with practical and pertinent beekeeping information. Come ask your questions!

You don’t have to be a beekeeper (yet) to join us, just have a sincere interest in honey bees. For Charlotte county, click here

We will be discussing:

  • what should be going on in your hive that month,
  • any current problems we face as beekeepers,
  • current pest and infections along with IPM strategies (integrated pest management)
  • BMPs, local and state legislature affecting beekeepers
  • as well as where to get equipment and supplies locally
  • local bee-related events.

Tentative Schedule (subject to change without notice):

  • Jan – feeding & winter hive maintenance – inaugural meeting
  • Feb – preparing for the upcoming honey flows
  • Mar – supering & swarm prevention
  • Apr – requeening & how to catch a swarm
  • May – indentifying your nectar and pollen sources (going into the hives in Collier – members only)
  • Jun – harvesting honey
  • Jul – requeening
  • Aug – products from the hive & harvesting honey
  • Sep – preparing for the last nectar flow & swarm prevention
  • Oct – final honey flows
  • Nov – preparing your hives for winter
  • Dec – holiday party

Gulf Coast Beekeepers Association

239-558-1130

https://www.facebook.com/gulfcoastbees/

UF / IFAS Extension Collier County

14700 Immokalee Rd
Naples, Florida 34120 United States
+ Google Map