Let swarming bees lie, says local apiary owner | SkyHiNews.com

Let swarming bees lie, says local apiary owner

What to do with, and why not to be afraid of, bee swarms

A swarm of honey bees Tabernash Honey Co. removed from a Hot Sulphur Springs property earlier this year.
Courtesy Brett Gingery

A giant, buzzing mass of bees clustered on the front bumper of a car or a back porch post would probably be menacing to most people, but a local apiary owner is working to dispel myths and protect the pollinators.

In the spring, European honey bees will temporarily swarm in what’s called a staging location, but Brett Gingery, owner of Tabernash Honey Co., said despite the ominous visual, bees are at their most docile when swarming.

“They’re not aggressive because they have no hive to protect,” Gingery explained. “If you see them, they are nothing to be scared of. Bees in general are nothing to be scared of.”

Gingery demonstrates how docile bee swarms are by getting up close and personal.
Courtesy Brett Gingery

European honey bees swarm at the start of spring when large colonies break apart in order to propagate their species and find a new hive. The colony will wait at the staging location while scout bees search for a home, which typically only lasts a few hours to a day.

“It’s the bees form of natural reproduction,” Gingery said. “They usually try to make it quick because they’re in a vulnerable position.”

The bees swarm because it helps maintain their temperatures, as well as to protect the queen.

Not only are the swarms not aggressive or something to be concerned about, but they are very easy to take care of, Gingery said. Either property owners can wait for the bees to move on naturally when they find a hive or they can provide the colony with a hive.

If someone doesn’t feel comfortable handling the swarm alone, Gingery said he has been called to remove swarms before and doesn’t mind doing so. He added that swarms haven’t been too much of an issue in Grand County, but his team did remove a swarm from a Hot Sulphur Springs property earlier this season.

“When we go catch swarms, you don’t even need a bee suit, you can just hold up frames from a hive and they see it’s honeycomb and they gravitate to it,” he said.

Tabernash Honey Co. employee Rosemary White catches a swarm by simply placing an empty hive frame next to the bees, which will quickly latch on to their new home.
Courtesy Brett Gingery

It’s particularly important to protect swarming bees since the species is endangered, due in  large part to colony collapse disorder, a mysterious illness that causes bees to abandon their hives.

“Local beekeepers do want (the hives), so contact a local beekeeper,” Gingery said.

Other steps people can take to support pollinator populations include not using pesticides and planting angiosperms, such as dandelions, clover, lupine and milkweed.

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