Why do bees swarm?
It's spring so the bee numbers are growing really fast.
When the bees run out of room in their hive (or when the colony decide that they want to reproduce) the bees chase their Queen out of her hive and swarm.
They're looking for a new home.
How do I know if the swarm is bees or a wasp nest?
Bees are fuzzy and they're almost an orange colour. Wasps don't have the same fuzzy bodies that bees have and the yellow of their bodies is bright against the black.
Bees are pretty chilled when they're in a swarm and show no aggression when you approach them. Wasps guarding their nest are aggressive and flighty.
Take a photo on your phone and check it against pictures of wasps and bees online. If you get stung, a bee stinger has a barb, which means that the sting and the venom sack with stay in your skin. Not nice for you, but fatal for the bee who will not survive losing her sting.
A wasp does not leave a stinger and can sting over and over again.
Wasps are likely to be close or near to the ground. They like to burrow. Bees, will be up a tree, or on a fence post on the side of a house. They're looking for somewhere reasonably high to live.
How do bees find a new home?
They cluster reasonably close to the hive, while scout bees go out looking for a nice, dark crevice to make a new home.
Is a swarm dangerous?
The short answer is, "No," as long as you don't do anything silly.
Before they swarm, the bees gorge themselves on honey, so they're pretty benign when they do swarm--a bit like you after a large Christmas lunch!
They just want to find a nice, new place to live, so they can start making comb and their Queen can begin laying again.
What do I do if I find a bee swarm?
If you find a swarm, please google 'local swarm collector' or contact your local bee club or council.
Bee keepers love to collect swarms in spring, so you should have no trouble finding someone who will come and collect the bees.
Please don't spray them with anything toxic. A bee swarm looks (and sounds) scary, but there's nothing to be afraid of, as long as you don't do anything silly.
Bees won't survive in the wild (especially in New Zealand, where the varroa mite will eventually wipe out any feral hive) so they need your help to find them a new home.
What happened to the swarm in the video?
This swarm has gone to a nice new home and are making themselves comfortable in a brand new, top bar hive.
Love & Lettuce,