This week marks the start of honey bee swarm season in New York. As the spring weather gets warmer and flowers begin to bloom, bees and other pollinators are starting to emerge.
Emma Mullen, Cornell University’s Senior Honey Bee Extension Associate, encourages people to be on the lookout for honey bee swarms and to report them, so beekeepers can give them the best chance for survival.
Swarm-catching beekeepers in New York state can be found here.
“Swarming is the natural phenomenon of honey bee colony reproduction. Most swarms occur between mid-May and mid-July in New York, though people can observe them through September.
“Under the right environmental and colony conditions, the queen leaves the hive with a few thousand of her daughter bees, and they temporarily cluster on a tree branch or other structure, where they remain while they collectively decide where their new home will be. A swarm is often about the size of a soccer ball but can be larger or smaller. The best time the colony can be caught by a beekeeper is while a swarm is clustered. Reporting a swarm should be done as soon as possible.
“Honey bees face many stress factors in New York, so calling a swarm catcher instead of a pest controller can help preserve these colonies. There are over 150 beekeepers state-wide who have volunteered to be contacted to catch swarms. These beekeepers are able to safely remove swarms and ensure the honey bees find a home in a beehive rather than a home or building. They care for these honey bees and give them the best chance of survival.
“The past few years have been hard for honey bees in New York. Each year, over the past 10 years, New York state has lost between 42 and 68 percent of their colonies. We’re working to improve colony health in New York through research and outreach, so hopefully 2019 is a better year.”