Blog: Swarms of Bees Signal Prosperity Not Doom


Recently, my friend Averi Torres told me that a swarm of bees descended upon her Malibu residence. She asked me what it meant?

Around this time every year the media begins reporting swarms of bees roaming across America — as though they were marauders. Most of the reports that I’ve ever read don’t go any further and explain what in fact is occurring. Although some media outlets would have you believe otherwise, it’s certainly nothing to fear!  

Thirty five percent of the foragers are scout bees that are constantly on the lookout for new sources of nectar, pollen, tree resin and water. Scouts are also responsible for identifying a new location for the hive when it’s time to swarm. 

When the strength of the queen’s pheromones (hormones) diminishes, nurse bees feed about a half a dozen larvae only royal jelly or pure protein called vitellogen, which comes from plant pollen. The nurse bees begin to rear a new queen. 

In the meantime scout bees find a new location. In one nature’s most remarkable feats, the honeybees reach a consensus on a new hive location by voting. Research has shown that 15 are the crucial number of scout bees for a quorum. Then, they wait for the ‘pipping’ signal to evacuate.

Taking about half the colony with her, the reigning queen travels in the center of the swarm. It takes about 40 days for the bees to build a new hive. Timing is very important, as in most cases there are not enough flowers in bloom for a late summer swarm to successfully build comb and have enough stored honey to last the winter.

Meanwhile, back at the old hive the first new queen to hatch has a pressing task to complete: To murder all competing soon-to-be emerging queens. Once she has secured her position, she undertakes her only fight out of the nest.

Releasing as little of a billionth of a gram of her scent, she attracts drones (males). The queen may mate with a couple dozen drones, storing as much as seven million sperm – enough to last her a lifetime. The drones take three seconds to ejaculate before their penis is ripped out of their body, after which – writhing in pain – they die.

So now you understand what’s happening with a bee swarm. Averi didn’t want the new hive to set up shop at there home, so her husband Dennis called Malibu Bee Care Specialist. They removed the colony, and allowed the bees to re-colonize a tree hollow in our wild Santa Monica Mountains. 

Malibu Bee Care Specialist used no chemicals. This is especially important to note. Last week’s report was very disturbing, more than 50,000 bumblebees were massacred in Oregon by a known potent bee-killing neonicotinoid poison, ‘Safari.’

Please help all our bees by not using any pesticides, herbicides, miticides or fungicides in your yard, ever. Instead, I suggest using companion plants. In the event of an infestation, non-toxic neem and its wide array of products available in the marketplace will safely protect your plants, bees, bats, birds, moths, butterflies, ladybugs, spiders, small mammals and millions of soil fauna and flora from poisoning.

Earth Dr Reese Halter is a broadcaster, conservation biologist and author of The Incomparable Honeybee.