What is a honey bee swarm?
Honey bee swarms are one of the most beautiful and interesting phenomena in nature. A swarm starting to leave its home is a thrilling sight. A swarm may contain from 1,500 to 30,000 bees, including, workers, drones, and a queen. Swarming is an instinctive part of the annual life cycle of a honey bee colony. It provides a mechanism for the colony to reproduce itself.
What to do if you see a swarm
- First of all, don’t panic!
- Honey bees are generally very gentle when they swarm.
- Don’t spray the bees with anything, not even water.
- Make sure that what you see are honeybees and not wasps or yellow jackets.
- Call a beekeeper – SAVE THE BEES!
To Ensure the Safety of Yourself and the Bees, Report Your Swarm as Soon as Possible
HOW TO USE THE LISTINGS BELOW
Locate a beekeeper by clicking on the region closest to the swarm location. It may take a couple of calls to get a hold of someone. Keep calling until you speak with a beekeeper. All beekeepers on this list are volunteers and provide this service free of charge.
EXTRACTIONS (Structural Bee Removal)
If the honeybees are in a wall or structure, look for a beekeeper who does structural bee removal.
Go to this link for a list of private/independent beekeepers who provide this service.
NORTH COUNTY Swarm List
Healdsburg, Windsor, Cloverdale, Geyserville areas
SOUTH COUNTY Swarm List
Penngrove and Petaluma areas
EAST COUNTY Swarm List
Sonoma Valley, Sonoma, Kenwood area, Western Napa County
CENTRAL COUNTY Swarm List
Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Cotati areas
WEST COUNTY Swarm List
Sebastopol, Bodega and Coastal areas, Valley Ford, Cazadero,
Occidental, Forestville, Guerneville area
CALIFORNIA BEE CLUB SWARM LISTS
Alameda: Alameda County Beekeeper Association
Marin: Marin County Beekeepers
Monterey: Monterey Bay Beekeepers (ABC)
Napa: Beekeepers of Napa Valley
San Francisco: San Francisco Beekeepers Association
San Mateo: Beekeepers’ Guild of San Mateo County
Santa Clara: Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild
Santa Clara: The Gilroy Beekeepers
Santa Cruz: Santa Cruz Beekeepers Guild
What To Do If You See A Swarm – SAVE THE BEES!
If you have sighted a swarm of honey bees, or have bees in your house or other structure, please read the following information before calling a beekeeper on the list.
- PLEASE DO NOT SPRAY THE BEES WITH ANYTHING, especially insecticides, but do not spray them with water either. This endangers the bees, yourself, and the beekeeper.
- Ensure you are dealing with honey bees and not another beneficial insect (please see our photo gallery below).
- Provide the exact location and address of the swarm (including cross street). Also, how high up is it? How big is it (softball, basketball, larger)? How long has the swarm been there? Are there hazards nearby like electrical wires etc.?
- Please be ready to provide a contact name and phone number.
- Please do not ask a beekeeper to take care of a yellow jacket problem unless specifically licensed for pest control. Most beekeepers cannot legally address pest issues. Please contact a licensed pest control operation or Marin-Sonoma County Vector Control (if the nests are in the ground).
- If the swarm is not on your property but in a neighbor’s yard, please provide contact details for the property owner – we cannot enter someone’s property without permission. The property owner or tenant should call a beekeeper.
- If the swarm is in a yard, please provide access information (how close can a vehicle be brought, how steep is the terrain?).
- If the swarm is high off the ground and if you have access to a reliable ladder which can be used by the beekeeper, please make the beekeeper aware of this.
- If you have digital photos of the swarm and the surrounding area, please advise the beekeeper of this. While honey bee swarms are generally docile, you should avoid putting yourself at potential risk to take photographs or get a closer look at the bees beyond basic identification.
- Not all beekeepers perform structural extractions – if the bees are inside a wall or attic, this is not a swarm but rather an established colony of bees. In this case, you need to contact a beekeeper who indicates that they handle structural extractions.
Other Types of Bees
The Sonoma County Beekeepers Association (SCBA) publishes and distributes this swarm contact list as a service to the public. We are neither an oversight or certification organization for beekeepers. If you engage the services of anyone on the list, you need to be aware that you are engaging the services of that beekeeper as an individual – you are not hiring them as an agent of SCBA. Problems are rare, but if you should have one, it is a matter between you and the individual that you engaged to handle your bee situation.