Honey bee swarms a normal part of nature

July 25, 2014

Honey bee swarm in a sweet bay magnolia tree in Santa Rosa Beach. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Honey bee swarm in a sweet bay magnolia tree in Santa Rosa Beach. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Have you ever seen a swarm of honey bees and hit the panic button? Not to worry, it is only part of nature, and the bees are not interested in you.

Jim Dietrich of Dietrich’s Honey Farm in DeFuniak Springs has seen many swarms over the years.

“I typically see swarms happen two or three times a year,” Dietrich said.

Honey bee swarms are a normal sign of a productive and strong honey bee colony. Swarms are colony-level reproduction, which differs from individual bee reproduction (i.e., when more bees are produced within a colony). When a colony swarms, the colony splits into two colonies. As a result, the population of honey bees in the environment grows and genes are exchanged as the new queen in the parent colony mates with drones from other colonies in the surrounding environment.

Honey bee colonies, especially colonies of European subspecies of honey bees, tend to swarm in early spring just before and during the principle nectar flow. This is logical since the departing swarm will need significant nutritional resources to build new comb, stock cells with nectar and pollen, and consume enough food for energy to raise new brood. However, swarms can occur at other times during warm months.

If you see a swarm of honey bees around your home, give the Walton County Extension office a call at 850-892-8172.

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