If it’s summer and you’re scared witless by the enormous swarms of bees flying around the trees in your backyard, perching on your mailboxes, fear not!
If there are lots of bees flying around trees, that means that bees are swarming to create a new colony and beehive. These bees will only stick around until they find a good location to set up a nest, which can take as little as 24 hours.
To learn more about the phenomenon of swarming and what you should do when faced with these intimidating bees, keep reading.
Why Do Bees Fly Around Trees?
Bees fly around trees as part of the swarming process to form a new colony. After reproduction, the established colony becomes too small to house all the bees. To prevent scarcity of resources, the existing colony divides into two colonies. One colony stays in the existing colony, and the other flies off in search of a new location to set up shop.
Swarms typically happen around the summer and spring. Before a swarm, worker bees feed the queen bee less to lose weight and fly with them. They also start feeding large amounts of royal jelly to larvae to raise a new younger queen bee. When the new queen bee is mature, swarming begins.
During a swarm, at least half of the worker bees take flight with the queen bee. When the queen lands on a structure like a tree branch, the worker bees surround her to keep her safe. If you’ve ever seen a large number of bees clustered together on a tree, this is the reason why. In the meantime, scout bees are sent out to find a new location for a suitable hive.
Finding a suitable hive location can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, during which the bees might stay in the area. However, once a location is found, bees will guide their queen there and begin their old duties.
What Do I Do About Bee Swarms?
Bee swarms are docile, so they won’t attack you unless you purposely disturb them. However, if these bee swarms are in very public locations, they can cause disquiet. You should only disturb them if they pose a severe health risk to you. You can kill off a bee swarm by spraying them with soapy water.
However, this course of action is not recommended as there are a large number of bees, and you will likely not be able to kill all of them before they start stinging you. You should leave them alone and let them carry on until they move to their new hive location.
How To Prevent Bees From Nesting?
Keep in mind that the swarm means they’re looking for a new hive location. This might be in your backyard, or even worse, in your house! Remember that a nest site needs to have an insulated cavity between 30 to 60 liters in volume and free access to the outside. If you have any spaces in your house or backyard that are like this, pay extra attention to them to ensure that they don’t get swarmed with bees!
In the meantime, here are some tips to discourage bees from nesting in your house:
- Seal entry points. Due to their small size, bees can enter any location with small holes very easily. Remove pits in your wall using caulk – if you don’t have any, you can use this Gorilla White 10 ounce Sealant Caulk. If there is an active swarm near you, close all doors and windows. You can also use wire wool to plug gaps – don’t use expanding foam as bees can chew through it and still come in.
- Remove outdoor clutter. Clutter doesn’t just refer to rubbish. It also means unused appliances or lawn equipment in gardens because a swarm can build a hive there.
- Remove food crumbs. Keep any open food in containers and ensure that your cabinets and floors are free of food crumbs. The smell can attract bees to your house. If you have pets and need to feed them in a bowl, place a bowl filled with vinegar water around their food so that the smell deters curious bees from investigating further.
- Plant bee-repelling plants in your garden. Bees are attracted to every flowering plant, so you can make your garden a more unattractive place for bees by planting non-flowering plants or herbs. You can try growing specific herbs like mint or eucalyptus to get rid of bees.
- Standing water or dripping faucets. These are potential water sources for bees, and it might cause bees to establish a hive nearby, especially if they don’t have any alternative sources of water to use. Swimming or kiddie pools also tend to attract bees.
- Sprinkle cinnamon or mothballs around your house. Place cinnamon powder or mothballs at locations you consider at risk for bee nests. Bees do not like the smell produced by these substances and will naturally avoid specific places.
How Do You Know if You Have a Beehive in Your Home?
Despite your best efforts, scout bees might still be able to enter your home and build a nest. Unless you’re a professional beekeeper, you probably want it out as soon as possible. Here are a few signs on how to figure out that a nest has been formed in your house.
- Large amounts of bees frequently visit your garden. If there’s an abnormally large amount of bee activity around your house, there is a chance that there is a nest either inside or near your property.
- Dead bees in your house. When bees make nests inside your walls, you could find dead bees at your window sills or by the door.
- Buzzing. If there are nests in the wall, you will hear a constant buzzing noise that gets louder as you approach the nest.
- Bad odor. Rotting or decomposing honey inside honeycombs emits a characteristic, strong, unpleasant smell. It will also leave dark spots on the walls.
How To Get Rid of Bees
Although it might be a tempting option, you should avoid using bee insecticide as much as you can. Bees are an essential part of the natural ecosystem, even if they seem like pests to us. They play a crucial role in transporting pollen and fertilizing flowers so that the plant bears fruit.
The problem begins when bees start nesting in your house. This can be extremely dangerous, especially if you’re allergic to bees. These are some possible solutions that you can use to get rid of a nest in your house:
- Call a beekeeper. A beekeeper will remove the nest for you, with some even offering this service for free to lend a hand to their efforts to save the honeybee population.
- Use a bee trap. Bee traps on the market usually come with a cylinder that allows bees to exit their nest but not re-enter. Despite your best efforts, not all the bees will enter the trap. For example, the queen bee will not leave her nest at any cost. To deal with the bees remaining inside their nest, you will have no choice but to spray pesticide and kill them.
- Call an exterminator. The environmentally-friendly option is no longer possible for those who have a house infested with multiple nests of bees. In this case, you will need to call an exterminator to kill and clear out all the bees.
No matter which option you use, make sure that all traces of honeycombs are removed from your house. Bees have an acute sense of smell and can smell the pheromones used to create the nest from up to 6 miles away. If you don’t get rid of all traces of these pheromones, in the future, bees will continue setting up nests in your house as the smell attracts them.
Although swarming is a harmless process, provided you’re not allergic to bees, it is still imperative for you to take the proper precautions to prevent bees from creating a hive in your house.
- ThoughtCo: Why Do Bees Swarm?
- BugTech: Environmental Pest Management: 6 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Bees Naturally