Local beekeepers say a swarm of bees is no sign for alarm. When left alone, the swarm usually poses no threat. However, experts say the bees themselves may be in need of some help.
“If you see a swarm of bees clustered on a branch or shrub, please let someone know who can help in their capture,” says Charles Foutch, a member of the Jackson Area Beekeepers Association. “If not caught, they will likely end up in some hollow tree and lost to the ill forces of nature. If captured, they will reside in a modern beehive, receive free protection and pay rent in the form of honey and pollination of our fruits and vegetables.”
You’ve probably read news reports or science articles about the decline in honeybee populations. Scientists from around the world, including those at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, are avidly researching the health of our honeybees. While a swarm of bees may look scary, beekeepers say the bees are simply relocating, and they implore that no harm be done to these precious pollinators.
“Swarming is a natural reproductive process where the queen takes about half of her family and finds another place to live,” says Foutch. “So the swarm you see is simply waiting for their scouts or ‘bee realtors’ to find a house to rent. This process usually lasts just a few hours.”
“The good news is that prior to swarming, the colony made preparations for producing a new queen to reside within and maintain the remaining family,” Foutch continues. “So life goes on at the home place and someone down the street has a new neighbor.”
If you see a swarm of bees, go to www.tnbeekeepers.org to find beekeepers in your area. You can also contact your local UT Extension office located in every county in the state. The Sevier County Extension office can be reached at (865) 453-3695.
For more detailed information about bees and beekeeping, download a copy of the UT Extension publication Beekeeping in Tennessee (PB 1745) available for free online at the website: extension.tennessee.edu/publications. Search for the title or publication number. You may also visit the UTIA bees website: http://bees.tennessee.edu or the national Extension website http://www.extension.org and enter the search term “bees.” Information may also be available from your local county UT Extension office.
The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and outreach through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.
W. Alan Bruhin