Why Do Honey Bees Swarm? Why Do They Do That? Is It Normal? NOTHING TO FEAR!


okay so today is Tuesday September 10th
this is a frequently asked questions answer to Allen lyndale a question you
might clarify he says and swarms is a queen ejected because she’s bad or is
the colony thriving so what I’m gonna show you here is the swarm of bees of
course what happened we’re just gonna answer a lot of general questions about
bees here they have landed on the spruce tree and this happened of course today
September 10th late in the year this is a large swarm we’re gonna talk about
wide bees swarm in the first place so they’ve obviously come from a healthy
colony although when we throw a monkey wrench in that if the conditions inside
the colony that they’re living in are not good bees have a tendency to get
nervous and to swarm out of it also if the Queen that is laying eggs in that
colony begins to lay sporadically starts to lay less frequently or in some way it
doesn’t please the colony workers specifically the nurse bees they are
going to get rid of that queen how do they do it well they’ll start building
supers eat your cells super seeds ourselves aren’t Queen cells that are
built out of the face of a brood comb normally now what’s the difference
between that and a swarm cell which is for a queen swarm cells are generally on
the edges of the brood frames and that would be your healthy reproductive
behavior of the colony so it is healthy for bees as warm what we’re looking at
here is not the end of the world sure it’s late in the year that’s not great
their chances are not good when you hide them up you’re gonna have to feed them
but how did we get here why are they swarm in what’s going on you hear a lot
of beekeepers talk about specifically beginning beekeepers I don’t keep my
bees how do I keep them from swarming what happened what’s wrong nothing is
wrong bees are supposed to swarm if you have a
healthy animal no matter what the species is it is designed to reproduce
what we’re looking at here is healthy reproduction of a bee colony so the old
Queen departs the new Queens have not yet hatched inside the colony so in the
hive there would be Queen cells already constructed and there would be
developing Queens in those cells are ready and they do not have before the
old queen is driven out so also what happens while those new Queens are
developing inside their queen sounds the old Queen the existing queen is being
pushed around by the nurse bees and they’re holding back on some of her feed
remember the Queen is fed and groomed and cared for by nurse bees inside the
Beehive so they stop caring for they stop feeding her why well she has to
lighten up so she can fly and in the meantime while she’s lightening up so
that she can fly plus they chase her around and stop her from laying eggs so
when you have a queen that’s about to depart and a colony that’s about to
swarm you might see a few our eggs you will still see open brood if you’re
lucky and plenty of capped brood because a good queen departing in a healthy way
leaves a lot of captive breeding and replacements behind how many of the bees
are we looking at here this was obviously a big colony we’re looking at
about 10 pounds of bees here thousands of bees
what’s this swarm composed of well you can see that there are lots of drones
male bees so they’re bringing their reproductive genetic stock with them
there are the workers lots of old workers in here too you’ll
notice they’re older because you’re gonna see that their wings are tattered
that there are fuzz is worn off of their thorax and that they’ve really seen a
lot of foraging activity and worked hard for
the Queen that they’ve left with now they’ve also loaded up on resources
click at the abdomens cursors ahead then the part that the wings are attached to
we slowed it down here for your viewing pleasure
the part that the wings are attached to is the thorax that’s where all the
muscle is that’s where all the energy is generated and then there’s the abdomen
look at the abdomen on all of these worker bees fully extended why because
they filled their honey crops before they left they gorged on the stored
resources inside the hive they departed from they need that number one so they
can stay warm and survive it’s gonna rain we have cold nights right now
dropping down into the 40s Fahrenheit and they need to keep the
Queen warm and preserve her while they do what well you’re gonna send out
scouts everywhere how far to the scouts fly sometimes several miles they’re
looking for a cavity a suitable cavity for things warm to move into and when
they do that what are they gonna have to do they’re gonna have to build gum and
they’re gonna have to have honey resources and they’re gonna have to have
Paul on so they can start with brood so you will see workers in here with pollen
on their legs you’ll see drones which are the male genetic stock they go with
them in case other things happen and they fail let’s say the Queen died let’s
say the colony failed the drones for as long as they can will continue to fly
and search for a reproductive opportunity with a virgin queen from
another colony this is how bees guarantee their existence they have to
reproduce they’re not designed to just move into a box and spend their lives in
that box and never depart honey bees as a super organism have to reproduce and
that’s what we’re looking at here this is the old colony and I know that sounds
backwards the old colony you might think exists
in the box that they left but that’s actually the new colony the old colony
has departed out with the old in with the new so the new colony is behind the
new Queens will hatch out and that doesn’t bother me you know why because
the queen is less than a year old going into winter with lots of resources has a
very good chance of surviving our northeastern United States winters and
here again we’ve slowed this down a lot this is at 20% normal speed and it’s so
that you can see the beads that are flying around they are still joining the
cluster see that one landed right there on the right and they’re just flying up
and attaching themselves they’re homing in on that pheromone and so they’re
gonna tighten up the cluster is gonna quiet down and the bees are gonna pack
very tightly together and of course they’re just clinging to one another so
the beads that are closest to the branch and in this case it’s a fir tree those
are the ones supporting the rest of the colony with their little toes hooked on
to bits and pieces of the tree branch for some reason they like this spruce
tree we catch several swarms off of it and you can see that these bees are
actually very healthy they’re all well fed they’re flying well and guess what
else you’re not threatened often you’ll see
people find a cluster of bees on a fence post or a tree or a bush in their yard
and someone will rush out there like a hero and spray them with insecticide so
one of the things I would like to explain for those who are not beekeepers
who might be looking at this and wondering what a swarm of bees is all
about they are non defensive they have nothing to defend and they have
everything to save they want to save their resources every bee that sting
someone is a dead bee so that’s a loss to the colony so obviously they don’t
want to sting for no reason obviously if you put your finger on one and push it
and force your hand they would have to sting
but I’m standing right next to this one making this video and now of course when
another slow motion mode but I am not protected I don’t have gloves on I don’t
have a bee suit why because this is a swarm of bees looking for a new home
they are migrating and not defending their position and you can see here that
this is in several clusters so they’ve all clumped on two different branches in
this tree and you can see that they are all climbing and this is in slow motion
so you can see that they’re all moving up and following this trail they’re
following the pheromone from the NASA and off land of the bees and they’re
following the fair amount of the Queen so eventually even though there are
several clusters on this tree in different little groups if you ran up
and try to bag them all individually that would be a lot of work and not
necessary they are going to combine into one central cluster and then by tomorrow
morning they will be tightly packed and easy to collect so instead of collecting
them now we’re making this video and you can see that these are workers worker
bees are females and you can see by their head shape and their body size
that they are different from the drones and when you see it round there’s one
right there dead center large eyes that come completely together it’s much
bigger further see the shiny black I don’t just blow my finger there oops I
think I went right into the swarm cluster by the way this is not a brave
move this is not a bold move this is not a gutsy move honey bees in a swarm
cluster as I mentioned are non defensive why am i touching these bees with my
bare hands because I want to give you a visual example of how non-threatening
they are I don’t want you to rush out and of course touch the bees in the way
I am but I also don’t want you to be afraid when you see a cluster of bees a
yard and they’re in a tree or a bush they are not wanting to sting you
remember they’re saving all the resources they
have they’re trying to bring them with them and they’re gonna start a new home
somewhere else now the perfect sized home for this group of bees right here
this swarm would be a single 10 frame deep laying straw box with a solid
bottom in a cover and a telescoping cover and then they would have to be fed
this time of year it would be fed sugar water 50/50 the good news is we also
have a strong nectar flow on the asters are just beginning to come in the
goldenrod is still strong their greatest protein source is pollen and the pollen
is coming in heavy so even though it is September 10th which is late in the year
where I live the resources are going to continue for
several weeks so this collection of bees has a great chance of surviving actually
why well because there’s so many of them if this were a tiny cluster they
wouldn’t have enough bees to warm brood once they start that and provide
foragers to bring in more resources so if you’ve got a cluster of more than
5,000 bees in this cluster easily is more than 5,000 bees
you’ve got enough bees to start a healthy colony now once they get in
their box they’re gonna go straight to work if you have a box with drawn-out
calm and they’re way ahead because that means they can start bringing in pollen
resources nectar resources and the Queen can start playing right away if they
find a wild cavity chances are that cavity was inhabited before by other
feral bees and then they would likewise be able to move into that and maybe take
over some abandoned comb that’s in there and then they would have a fast start so
they have enough bees to provide forage resources for this colony they have
enough bees to stay inside the colony and provide warmth and protection for
the brood when the Queen starts to lay her eggs now once they get into that new
box how long will it be before they’re hatching out
new bees and replenishing their stocks well if there’s already drawn-out comb
and resources where they’re going we’re looking at 21 to 30 days before you
start seeing new adult bees emerging from their cells so do we have that much
time left here we are September 10th October 10th they would be hatching out
at maybe 1300 to 1500 new bees a day and I think their chances were surviving
winner in that circumstance would be good so here they are and all I wanted
to do they show you what a swarm looks like caution you that swarm should not
be killed please don’t call an exterminator and have them sprayed call
a beekeeper if you’re not a beekeeper yourself then I hope that this video
will serve to calm you down a little bit people fear what they don’t understand
and what I want you to understand is that honey bees are just on the move
swarms are natural reproduction and personally I don’t feel that swarms
should be stopped all the time now sometimes bees will swarm because
they don’t have enough space inside their hive they can be honey bound the
population can grow too big the beekeeper may not have added enough
boxes or you may want your hive to be a specific size and not any bigger and you
may want to allow swarms to happen for many years I allowed swarms to happen as
part of my research on honey bee swarm behavior so now when they swarm I don’t
always see it as a bad thing I see it as an opportunity to learn and in this case
to teach and share what a swarm looks like and what it really is how long will
they hang here they could actually hang on this treat for several days their
goal of course is to send out their Scouts in every direction for those
Scouts to come back do their waggle dances encourage other bees to go and
check out the spaces that they’ve found and then they will all collectively pick
a spot to move to its part of the honeybee democracy if you haven’t read
that book by Thomas Sealy I I recommend it because it shows how the
social order of bees works how there’s a consensus how just one bee doesn’t get
to fly out find a place to live come back to Leo’s and they all leave this
swarm of bees will wait until many foragers come back with the same
information with the same approval of the space that they hope to occupy and
once there is a consensus throughout this warm and they will all depart all
of a sudden how fast is a swarm travel when they leave and go to a new location
about 6 miles an hour so if you can jog 6 miles an hour and there aren’t a bunch
of buildings and trees and hedges and rivers between you and where they’re
headed you can actually track them and keep up with them how long does a queen
live why did they get rid of her well I can tell you for sure the Queen that’s
in this group is not even a year old because all of my Queens were replaced
in the early summer this year so she’s young and they could live three years
but in general going into our winters here you want to go into winter I’m not
a queen breeder so I want to go into winter with a queen that’s under a year
old so I’m going to close out with this slow-motion sequence I hope you learned
something about honey bees swarms why they swarm sometimes it’s healthy
sometimes it’s because the queen is not performing otherwise it’s just normal
reproduction I hope you learn something thank you for watching feel free to
subscribe for more have a great week you

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39 thoughts on “Why Do Honey Bees Swarm? Why Do They Do That? Is It Normal? NOTHING TO FEAR!

  1. 12:am, first thumbs up, first comment, I’m quicker than I thought.

    Congratulations on the swarm, please keep us up to date on both of your late swarms!

    So glad I found your channel, or your channel found me!

  2. Just put the 2nd biggest of the year in a box on Sunday. I'm guessing 10lbs 😲 now I'm wondering which one they came out of.

  3. Fred, you have such a talent for teaching. I appreciate it so much. This video and your information pulled together (or straightened out) a lot of information in my head that I didn't even realize was there. Hope that makes sense. I watch other videos that mention and show things such as swarm cells, but they don't always explain why or the differences. You've also calmed my nerves on a couple of issues. Thanks so much!

  4. Thanks Fred. In Australia, we're coming into our Spring swarming period. Any info on this topic is much appreciated. With only 3 hives to attend to despite its wonderment, I can't help but be just a tad nervous with the whole process.Let's hope for a smooth transition overall, thanks again!

  5. I was having a hard time falling asleep and this popped up on my mobile device. Great info as always sir. Have a blessed night.

  6. Wow! Another swarm!!! Blows my mind how many times they have swarmed this year. I appreciate you letting them do their thing so that you can teach the rest of us! LoL!!! Thank you Sir, for another amazing video!!!

  7. Great bee footage, another superb highly informative video. I actually had a HUGE swarm of dragonflies just yesterday (Ohio) behind the house….looked to be at least 500 or more, flying at high rate of speed zig zagging everywhere for over an hour! Amazing spectacle to see!!

  8. Ha Mr Dunn thanks for showing this, for the most part the swarming season is over here in virginia the flow is over where I live and it is a death sentence to swarm. But I have watched videos where they say if they are honey bound the bee keeper gave them to much syrup and they backed filled the brood area and the queen has no place to lay they will swarm because the queen needs to be still laying brood they called them fat bees,for the winter to survive. Now yesterday I seen a video where the bee keeper gives his hives 4-5 gal of syrup the bees have 1 or 2 brood boxes he wants them to back fill the brood area the hole thing, I have read that is is not good for the bees to back fill every thing they need to be able to stick there little heads in the open comb to help stay warm and heat the cluster. I hope I am explaining this so u understand what I am trying to say and ask. This is what I am doing and what they looked like in the last inspection, in some Hives the brood is in both deeps with stores and pollen with lots of open space, In some hives the brood is in the top deep and the bottom box is pretty much empty every one has pollen and honey or 2-1 sugar stores they put every thing where they want it put,, Should I move all the brood down to the bottom boxes stores on top In the spring I have always did that but for the winter I have not it does not get real cold here , till say Dec. I am feeding 2-1 syrup now and still giving the bee pro patties to encourage brood rearing to build up the hives for the winter. . they love the bee pro they gather around like a bunch of little dogs in a circle and start eating as soon as I put it in there it is so beautiful to watch I wish I had a camera like you have if would be beautiful. I Please tell me what u know and what do u do for your winter prep thanks and have a wonderful day, God Bless you .

  9. Good morning Fred! I can't think of a better way to explain swarms than this. When asked, I'm just going to provide this link. They will be entranced by the beauty of your videography and possibly hypnotized by your voice. And as a beekeeper, it's going to make me look really cool!

  10. Fred, thank you for the video and for all the wealth of information. Would love to see a video of you capturing the swarm and starting a new hive. I really enjoy your videos as they are very inspiring and will play be a large part in my hobby of starting bee keeping. Thank you again…
    Rob S. (Rockford MI)

  11. wow this perfectly explains one of my hives. second box almost empty, sporadic capped brood, queen cell developing. I couldn't find the queen. I should buy a new queen immediately, right?

  12. I dealt with a bald faced hornet nest yesterday. One got me in the ankle because I was not wearing my boots. I should have just left it for a couple of weeks cause bald faced hornets die out mid September and the Queen overwinters and they do not reuse thier nests.

    Glad you got such a nice swarm. I say the next thing Fred should do is tie a queen box to himself and film a beard of bees on him. Lol

  13. It's funny you posted this. I live just west of Chicago started my second year as a beekeeper and a hive that I made from a swarm at the end of June swarmed yesterday. Way too high in a tree for me to get. And what happens again this morning at the same time to the same live? You guessed they swarmed again. It kind of bothers me because my original Queen left yesterday morning what the first swarm. I can't collect them they're just too high for me to get I got to be 50 feet up in the tree. I waved and wished them good luck

  14. Rather than gathering all the swarm you possibly can into a net and putting them into your spare hive, have you ever just gathered a good scoop of bees into the hive and seen if they advertise its desirability to the swarm for you?

  15. Hope you caught and reboxed 'em ol' mate. Way too many bees there to give away.
    Great camera work Fred, enjoyed it immensely.
    Thanks.
    🇦🇺 🍺🍺 🐝🐝

  16. Why Bees Swarm
    1. Overcrowded Hive
    2. Old Queen Leaving Hive For New Queen
    3. Insects overtaking hive, Wax Moth, Ants, Beetles, etc.
    4 Poor Location Of Resources, Pollen & Honey. Even Too Close To Poor Resources, such as Dumps & Schools.
    5. Animals Destroying Hive. Sometimes Hive Collapse & Too Much To Save
    6. People In & Out Of Hive Too Much.
    7. Workers Convincing Hive Of Better Location.
    This was a good video & remember, Swarms are generally not a threat.
    Good Luck

  17. Fantastic Fred! Wonderful video. I imagine the dialogue was “off-the-cuff” or maybe the questions were your prompts. Anyway and any way the presentation was gr8, m8! Learnt lots as usual. Cheers and may winter be kind… BTW… did you set up a swarm trap? Hope to see you collect the colony even if to give it away.

  18. Thank you so much for this video.
    The subject is just perfect and it's in the right timing too!
    I have one hive that I bought from a beekeeper in July, it was a swarm that he catches. It was in a 10 frame Dadant boxe and when I got it I was hoping to get some honey this year, I live in Paris so the nectar flow is not abondante. I added a super to the deep but the bees didn't touch it, the only thing they did to it is putting propolis everywhere. The summer is over now and I decided to take the super out and prepare the bees for winter. The activity of the bees was slow thought the summer.
    I took off the super and I started to feed them. (There were a good nombre of bees occupying the super) so they are condensed on the deep now.
    The activity start to go up ! The traffic of the bees is very good and the conception of the sugar water is fast too …I don't understand what is happening …are they preparing them selves to swarm ?
    The tow latiral frames in the deep are not finished ..so I'm telling my self that they have a bit more space.
    What do you think Fred ?

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