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What's the buzz? Honey bee swarming season about to begin

"Free bees are amazing..."
Posted at 5:11 PM, Mar 31, 2021

BUTTE — Bees, bees, bees! Swarming season is going to begin for these buzzing honey-making creatures and beekeepers are staying on their toes.

Beekeepers use these homeless hives to create hives for, what else? Honey!

Ruth Jones, a beekeeper and owner of Bee Excellent Apiary in Butte, said that beekeepers use these wild honeybee swarms to covers costs.

"Bees are expensive. You can spend up to $200 on a nuc, which is a nucleus, that’s the center of the hive," Jones said. "And of course, a lot of bees in one area, people don’t understand what swarming is and why they do it."

So, why do honey bees swarm? The Montana Department of Agriculture State Entomologist Alyssa Piccolomini said that honey bees are social insects that reproduce on the colony level which means less room in the hive over time.

"Honey bee swarms occur when that colony is ready to expand and basically divide into another colony," Piccolomini said.

These swarms leave with the old queen of the hive and set up shop on a tree branch or mailbox temporarily. Scouts are sent out to find a permanent home.

"They're trying to decide where they want to go and that can really last somewhere between, if the conditions are great and it’s a beautiful, sunny day with no wind, you know they might decide within an hour, but if it’s not a really nice day maybe they could be up there for like a day or two," Piccolomini said.

Piccolomini and Jones expressed that these swarms are usually gentle, but if a person is worried about a swarm, they can call a local beekeeper like Jones to collect it.

"Free bees are amazing," said Jones.