Report a Swarm

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

  1. First of all, don’t panic! 
  2. Honey bees are generally very gentle when they swarm.
  3. Don’t spray the bees with anything, not even water.
  4. Make sure that what you see are honeybees and not wasps or yellow jackets.
  5. Call a beekeeper – SAVE THE BEES!

To Ensure the Safety of Yourself and the Bees, Report Your Swarm as Soon as Possible


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.





click on one of the links below


Healdsburg, Windsor, Cloverdale, Geyserville areas


Penngrove and Petaluma areas


Sonoma Valley, Sonoma, Kenwood area, Western Napa County


Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Cotati areas


Sebastopol, Bodega and Coastal areas, Valley Ford, Cazadero,
Occidental, Forestville, Guerneville area



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

Bumble Bees are beneficial insects. They do not live in colonies of large numbers, so you won’t encounter a cluster of many of them at time. They are significantly larger than honey bees and are black and fuzzy with one or two yellow bands.


Carpenter Bees bore approx 1/2″ diameter holes into wood (such as decks and siding), and live inside these holes. Like bumblebees, they do not live in large numbers. They appear like a hairless version of a bumblebee, without yellow bands.


Paper Wasps, sometimes called “Umbrella Wasps” live in paper nests, with the openings of the cells facing downwards. They rarely have cause to sting people, and are considered a beneficial insect – among other things, they eat spiders. Mud Dauber Wasps look similar, but live in mud cakes often found in rafters of outbuildings and on the eves of houses. Click on the image for an enlargement.


Yellow Jackets often live in the ground. These are the pests that come around when you’re eating outdoors, or which are found around open trash bins. Their stings can cause a bacteriological infection as a result of their scavenging nature.


Hornets appear similar to large yellow jackets, can be very ornery, and live in large, usually grayish paper nests, which are unfortunately often typified as beehives in popular children’s publications such as Winnie the Pooh. Do not interfere with their nests – seek professional removal.

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.