What is a honeybee swarm?
Honeybee 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 honeybee 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!
- Honeybees 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.
SWARM LISTS BY REGION, CHOOSE THE CLOSEST
(click on one of the links below)
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 even spray them with water. This is endangering 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.? Also 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 can’t enter someone else’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, 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 or structurally inhabiting colony (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.
What is a Swarm?
- Honey bee swarms are one of the most beautiful and interesting phenomena in nature. 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.
- The tendency to swarm is usually greatest when bees increase their population rapidly in late spring and early summer.
- Honeybee swarms are not dangerous. A honey bee swarm has neither young nor food stores and will not exhibit defensive behavior unless unduly provoked.
- By calling a beekeeper to come and collect a swarm, you are helping the bees find a safe home.
Other Types of Bees
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.
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.