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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Swarming Bees in Plainview


Swarming Bees in Plainview

Over the past few days I have received phone calls about swarms of honey bees in and around the Plainview area.  I would like to put several minds at ease and reassure anyone witnessing these swarms that this is not an uncommon occurrence, especially given the amount of wild bees we have developing in our area.  More importantly, they are not overly dangerous while they do still warrant a level of respect.  It is currently open for debate as to why honey bees are seeming to thrive here in West Texas recently, but we should shelve that and get to the answers as to what is happening here?

I am going to reference a previous blog on this site dated March 8, 2017 and titled "Swarming Honeybees in West Texas."  That was information shared by Dr. Charles Allen, Associate Department Head of the Entomology Department at Texas A&M, with us.  If you would like to view or revisit this full article which includes a link to a video by Dr. Allen, I encourage you to do so here:


Here is a down and dirty need to know fact list about these swarms.

1.             1)  Honey bees swarm because they are moving.  They have scouts out looking for a suitable location to make a new hive.  This might be near a reliable water source, food source, shelter, absence of bee parasites or disease, etc. and will be moving on soon, usually within 24 hours. 

2.             2)  Honey bee swarms are not ‘dangerous.’  Honey bees are aggressive when defending their young and their hive where they are raising their young.  Swarming bees have no hive or young to defend and will be as ‘docile’ as honey bees ever are.  In this situation, these bees just want to find a new home and will let issues slide that would normally provoke a response to an attacked hive.


3.             3)  95% to 99.9% of the wild honey bees in West Texas are Africanized.  These so called ‘killer’ bees are simply more aggressive than their calmer cousins.  These swarms of moving bees might not be more docile, but they should be respected.   Children, pets, and others need to be mindful of the bee swarm and give them some space so the bees are not unintentionally provoked.  They will move on shortly. 

4.           4)  It might be advantageous to do whatever is possible to make your home, barn, or area unattractive to honey bees if you do not want to share your space with them.  For example; a quick double check to make sure the attic, access to under a house, or abandoned well nearby are sealed tightly and can restrict bee access or any leaky faucet cannot be viewed as a reliable water source.  Checking for and quickly solving these or other similar factors could help the bees decide not to build their next hive on your property or in a dangerous to you location.  If you have noted a bee swarm is nearby and blooming plants or fruit trees in the area, you might want to hurry.

5.           5) If the bees need to be removed, I urge you to call professionals to deal with the bees, especially if a hive gets established on your property.  These Africanized bees will be very aggressive while regular honey bees are aggressive enough.  If you are determined to have dealings with a honey bee swarm that stays longer than 24 hours or an existing hive, I urge you to only do so with the proper equipment and only on a cool, dark night when bees cannot orient themselves well and will be moving slowly. 


Thanks,
Blayne

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