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

Bee Nest Removal Fails!

NONE OF THESE Videos are us ! !

Bee Nest Removal epic fails…and great examples of the dangers of being an inexperienced Beekeeper…and why you need to be certain they are insured when they come on your property and that they know what they are doing.

Maybe try a ladder next time?

Just because someone has a bee suit or veil or smoker DOES NOT mean they know what they are doing! Make sure your beekeeper has experience removing bees !

Q. Is it Illegal to Kill Honey Bees?

Honey Bee Removal Cape Coral | Punta Gorda

No, it is not illegal to kill honey bees.

However, it is considered bad practice to arbitrarily kill honey bees without at least making an effort to save them.

If people or property are in danger that is one thing.

Dead Honey Bee

Most of the time; however, the bees can be removed live without damaging the property or hurting anyone.

We have seen very few cases where we would recommend having a pest control company come and exterminate the bees.  

Reputable pest control companies will first do everything they can to save honey bees before resorting to extermination.

Killing honey bees is often just a quick fix that doesn’t solve the problem and costs more in the long run.

Have a Question about Honey Bees or Bee Removals?

Simply send us your bee hive removal question and we will post the answer here as a blog post 🙂

    Top 2 | The Worst Bee Hive Removal Advice

    Number 1 on the list has to be to just “plug up the hole” or “fill-a-foam the hole” that the bees are going in and out of

    There is a big misconception out there. That if bees are entering a building via a hole or vent, you should just plug up that hole. This bad advice thinks it will prevent more bees from entering the structure. We can’t stress enough how WRONG this advice is.

    Why doesn’t this work?

    A bee colony consists of thousands of bees. The bees only spend the latter quarter to third of their lives actually going in and out of the hive. They spend the majority of the time inside. Plugging up the hole will only prevent the 40% of the colony from coming back inside to the colony. This is also why you tend to see a lot more bees towards late afternoon. By plugging the hole, instead of encouraging the bees to leave, it often PREVENTS the bees from getting out! So now, the thousands of bees inside will chew their way back out. Often flooding the interior of the home via the vents or canned lighting. Yes, they can chew through fill-a-foam and a lot of other materials and will find a way back out! This is how a bee problem quickly turns into a bee emergency!

    Number 2 on the list has to be to just spray the bees nest

    Doesn’t matter if it’s water or insecticide, you’ll only annoy the bees. This will cause the guard bees to come after you. It’s the best way to get stung and stung often.

    Why doesn’t this work?

    Partly, the answer is the same as the first one. The majority of the bees are not near the outside nor near entrance of the bees nest. You are only reaching maybe 20% of the colony by spraying them. There are still thousands of bees inside. Not the mention the larvae and pupae waiting to hatch out. It takes weeks for all the bees to hatch from inside the comb. IF you don’t remove it, the next swarm of bees will take it’s place. You should always have the bees and the comb fully removed whenever possible. If there is existing comb inside a cavity , the next bees will simply grow larger faster with each reoccurring group of bees until you remove the bees nest completely.

    Q. How Many Times do Beekeepers and Bee Hive Removal Specialists get stung by Bees?


    Getting stung by bees kind of goes with the territory when beekeeping and doing bee removal work.

    Even when wearing protective bee equipment, it is still hard to avoid being stung when you work around tens of thousands of bees every day.

    Tim’s  has been stung more times than he can count: hundreds of times every bee season.

    Information about bees & bee stings, featuring Dr. Jamie Ellis is the Gahan Endowed Professor of Entomology in the Entomology and Nematology Department at the University of Florida

    What to do when you get stung by a honey bee?

    You want to use your fingernail or a credit card to “scrape” the stinger out as soon as possible.

    The stinger has a muscle and venom sac attached. The longer it is in your skin, the more venom is injected.

    Never grab it or use tweezers – this will only inject more venom from the attached venom sac by squeezing it’s contents into the skin.

    How to know if you are allergic?

    Photocredit: draxe.com/bee-sting-treatment

    Q. I think I have Africanized “killer” bees at my house. What should I do?

    Don’t panic and do your best to not disturb the bees. Sudden movements and banging on their home is sure to stir them up. They are attracted to sweat and carbon dioxide (our exhale). The best thing to do would be to call a professional bee hive removalcompany asap and keep a safe distance.

    For the most part, Africanized bees do exist in all over Florida. Most of the honey bee colonies we remove are typically your average honey bee colony with some africanized traits. They are not African “Killer” Bees. Every once in a while however, we do come across some honey bees that is so mean that they are hard to work. For these jobs, one must stay completely covered up in protective gear until leaving the job site and keep everyone else inside.

    A more defensive honey bee colony doesn’t necessarily mean it is Africanized. The temperament of the colony is determined by the queen’s genetics and size of the colony. Some breeds are more defensive than others, such as Russian bees. This problem is something that can be remedied. After removing and relocating a bee hive, the temperament of the colony can be changed by simply replacing the queen with a queen of more gentle genetic stock.

    States that have seen the most incidents of Africanized honey bees are Florida, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. Although the Africanized bees can be a concern, the media has hyped them up a bit in their usual fashion. That having been said, our advice is to be cautious around any kind of bees nest.

    If you are being stung by bees, the best response is to run away covering your nose and eyes until they stop chasing you or to go inside as quickly as possible. If you run into a car, do not get out again even if you have a few bees in the car.  Also, do not to jump into a body of water, as the bees can still be waiting for you when you come up for air.

    PhotoCredit: HealthyMePA | CDC | Red Cross

    Q. What Types of Bees do you Relocate?

    Honey Bee Removal Cape Coral | Punta Gorda

    Our specialty is specifically live honey bee hive removal

    Honey Bee collecting Nectar | Lee Honey Bee

    Honey Bee vs Non-Bees

    We do not remove hornet or yellow jackets nests, bumble bee nests, carpenter bees, mason bees, wasps, cicada killers, or ground bees. 

    Honey Bees & Natives Bees

    We also do not remove bees buzzing around flowers and plants. This is a normal part of pollination and bee life. Once the plants are done blooming, the bees will leave.

    Q. How Much Bee Hive Removal Experience Do You Have?

    Honey Bee Hive Removal Shed Floor Deck Cut Out

    We have completed honey bee hive removals for 6 years and have over twenty years construction experience. When you hire us, know that you are hiring a professional bee removal specialist!

    We teach at two local bee groups, beginning beekeepers and Tim is working on level 3 of UF’s Master Beekeeper Program – the Master Level.

    Q. Do you Guarantee your Work?

    Yes. When GreenView Aquaponics Family Farm & Apiary does the repairs to the access area, we will guarantee that honey bees will not return to the the exact location they were removed from. We do the access area repairs only occasionally when they fit within the scope of our work quoted.

    Normally, we do not do the repairs, then we will not guarantee against re-infestation of new bee colonies. However, we will be happy to inform you how repairs should be done to prevent bees from ever coming back to that spot again.

    In the unlikely event that the problem is not taken care of the first time, GreenView Aquaponics Family Farm & Apiary will continue coming back until the problem is fixed or we will refund part or all of your money. This is at our discretion.

    Note: that after a bee hive removal job is complete and the entry point sealed, it is normal to have a few forager bees coming back. They will not be able to get through the sealed entry point. These forager bees can hang around for up to a week or two before they are completely gone.

    GreenView Aquaponics Family Farm & Apiary reserves the right to withhold this guarantee for certain situations, but will inform the customer before beginning and it will also be stated on the bee hive removal proposal/invoice/receipt.

    Do you have Liability Insurance?

    Honey Bee nest on soffit

    Yes, GreenView Aquaponics, LLC carries $1,000,000 in general liability as well as having property damage coverage.

    In Bee Hive Removals, why is this so important?

    Bee Hive Removal often involves ladder work, spectators (curious neighbors), and opening up people’s homes or business to remove the honey bees.

    Without insurance, you would become liable for the beekeeper’s actions since you hired them.

    Not to mention mishaps that involve property damage. Who’s going to pay for that without insurance?

    Neighbor get stung? Hopefully they were not allergic….

    The scenarios are endless when it comes to risks involving folks working in or on your property. We are very conscientious and insured to be absolutely certain that anything we do that we do it with permission, care, and proper knowledge & training.