A group of Capital Region beekeepers are ready to answer the call for any swarms encountered by area residents.
“We wanted to notify people what they should do if they encounter a swarm. There’s quite a bit of bees swarming at this time of year and a lot of people don’t know what to do or who to phone,” said Bob Kearney with the Capital Region Beekeepers Association.
He said residents can call the swarm line at 250-900-5787 and someone will come out and pick up the swarm for free.
Kearney said some beekeepers will use a vacuum with low suction to collect the bees, although he uses a cardboard box with a telescoping cover known as a swarm box.
“I knock the bees into the box and then I carry them away and dump them into a hive someplace else,” said Kearney, who manages a number of hives in Saanich.
He says bees start to swarm when they get overcrowded, usually in the springtime after the queen has laid her eggs.
“Half of them will leave the hive with the old queen – usually they find some kind of tree,” said Kearney. “That’s when people don’t know what’s going on and they think something’s wrong. There’s so many sometimes. You can get a swarm with thousands and thousands of bees land in a big clump on a tree. But that’s absolutely normal.”
Scout bees are sent out from the swarm to locate a suitable location for a hive. When the scout finds a suitable location, it will return to the swarm and perform a dance to indicate its whereabouts.
“Other scouts go out and check out the location. If they like the location better than the location that they found, then they change their dance to the new location. When they’re all doing the same dance, they all fly off to the new location,” said Kearney, indicating the process can take anywhere from several hours to several days.