Sunday, May 8, 2011

Swarm Season!

May is the start of swarm season in Western Pennsylvania and Saturday was a busy day for swarms. Steve Repasky, in the photo above, captured this large swarm from a small tree in Wilkinsburg.

Swarms are dramatic to witness, yet don't deserve the fear they often evoke. Swarming bees rarely sting for a few reasons. One is that, before leaving the original hive, the worker bees engorge themselves with nectar so that they will have something to eat in their new home. Often, they're so full of nectar that they can't extend their stingers. Another reason they're unlikely to sting is that they do not (yet) have a hive to defend.

Local beekeeping organizations like the Beaver Valley Area Beekeepers' Association and Burgh Bees keep "swarm lists" of beekeepers who, like Steve, will try to recapture a swarm. In a future post, we'll write about why bees swarm in the first place.

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