In the spring and early summer, colonies of honey bees may decide to “expand” for various reasons. Typically the colony “feels” crowded and there is not enough space to either store pollen and honey, or the queen to lay eggs to create more worker bees. When this happens the hive begins the process to divide.
This division allows one portion of the colony to stay in place and the other portion will “Swarm” or leave and look for a new location. Their journey begins by the queen and a large number of bees physically leaving the colony and collecting in a nearby place. The majority of the bees surround the queen to protect her and keep her warm while “Scout” bees go looking for a suitable place to build their colony. Once the scouts return and they decide on their new home, the swarm of bees will head towards the location. Once the queen enters the new location, the rest of the bees follow and start building honey comb to raise their young and store food for the coming winter.
Typically honey bees are very gentle when they have swarmed, they have engorged on honey in order to survive until they have started their new home. However, if they feel they are in danger, or the queen and/or the colony is in danger, they will sting, so care should be taken when you are around them.
When you see a “football” of bees hanging from a tree limb, or on a tree, or some other structure or on the ground, you have seen the beginnings of a new colony. The bees are typically gentle, they ate their fill before leaving the hive to be able to survive until the new hive has been built. Please don’t destroy the bees, call a beekeeper instead and ask them to. . . “come and capture the swarm.”
One good thing to do before contacting a beekeeper is to make sure the insects are actually honey bees. Often other flying insects are misidentified as honey bees, these other insects can be: wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, bumble bees, carpenter bees and other flying insects. If you are unsure of what type of insect is found in your back yard, you can identify them by clicking here.
Please note we have identified two distinct time frames associated with a honey bee swarm
We have a listing of Cook-Dupage beekeepers who will harvest swarms in parts of the following counties:
Please use Swarm Removers Search to find a beekeeper in the area that is able and willing to remove bees safely. Depending on the situation, the beekeeper may charge a fee (travel expense, demolition, etc). Please clarify any fees up front when discussing with the beekeeper.