Every year, just about this time, I start to hear about people with massive balls of bees in their favorite butterfly bush or in their front yard trees.  This will usually happen between April and June.  The most natural thing for the uninformed is to panic, run down to the local store, and get a super sized bottle of Bee-Be-Gone and start spraying.  If you find yourself in this situation, stop, take a breath, and don't do anything crazy!

The first thing to understand is that this is a very natural thing for bees to be doing.  This swarming instinct is actually the way that they reproduce and it is a good thing to have happen.  The bees in the old hive decided that their colony was actually thriving well enough to actually split off a new hive.  They went through all the trouble of raising a new queen and flying off with her in search of new living quarters.  Once a suitable location is found, they will all fly there and start building a brand new hive.

Secondly, is the fact that these bees are extremely docile in this state.  Just before leaving the safety of their old hive and the abundance of pollen, nectar, and honey, they gorge themselves until the can’t eat any more. They do this because they don’t know how long it will take to find a suitable location to build a new hive.  You can think of them as fat and happy.  That being said, I wouldn’t encourage you to walk right up to this buzzing mass of bees and poke around in them.  After all, each one of those little ladies still have a very potent and capable stinger.  When you compound that with the fact there could very well be 20,000 individual bees in that swarm, it could spell a world of hurt if you do not know what you are doing.

The last item to take into consideration before calling an exterminator is the fact that we are facing a crisis with our native bees here in America.  You may have heard of CCD or Colony Collapse Disorder, it is a problem with bees where the entire hive full of bees just die or disappear.  Scientists are working to figure out why this is happening but they still don’t know what causes it.  Until they get an idea how to help the bees, we need to make sure we do everything we can to make sure the bees survive.  Just remember, bees are the ones that pollinate everything.  Everything from the flowers in your yard to the food you eat are due in part to all those bees flying from flower to flower spreading pollen.

So what can you do to get rid of the bees?  Its obvious that you can’t just let them stay there and build a hive in your front yard.  Eventually, they are going to go back to their normal selves and chase away anyone that gets too close to their brood and honey. Unless you are wanting to take up bee keeping as a hobby, which is what my dad and I have done, you need to call a well trained individual to come get them.

There are a few options that you have, ranging from the “green” and nature friendly methods to the “I don’t really care, I just want them dead” method.  I am certainly not a tree hugger type but I certainly stress the ways that will help the honey bees stay strong. It's just my way to help out with CCD.

The best way to get rid of your swarm is to call someone from your local bee guild. Yes, there are groups of bee keepers that like to get together to learn more about their craft. If you call them, you will have a swarm of people flocking to your house to capture and relocate your buzzing ball of bees. It is fascinating to watch them catch the bees. Surprisingly, it is a very easy process and takes very little time. In my experience, it takes from ten to thirty minutes to set up, catch the swarm of bees, and be on my way. This is hands down the best way to take care of your problem.  The bee keeper will take those bees back to their apiary and give them a nice box to live in.

If you can't find a phone number in the phone book, look for the local bee guild online. Many guilds have a website that will give you contact information. If your online search comes up dry, call your local fire department. Most guilds will have given their contact numbers to them as well as the other safety departments. Interestingly, you can also find them through many local exterminators. The guild that I belong to in Chesapeake, VA has called around to the bug men because we would rather capture and relocate instead of exterminate.

I do realize that there are times when panic will set in and take over all rational thought.  The overwhelming urge to just get rid of them wins out. It is highly recommended not to take care of them yourself, especially if you are allergic to bee stings. Once one bee stings, you have a pheromone on you that is like a homing beacon for other little stingers. Let a professional take care of it for you. The local yellow pages will have plenty of people willing to do the dirty deed.

If you find yourself with a swarm, don't panic. Keep everyone far enough away so they don't disturb it. Get on the phone and get in touch with a local bee keeper. They will travel quite a ways to come help you. Oh, and by the way, if it just so happens to be me that is going to come get them for you, I wouldn't mind it if you had a cold bottle of IBC root beer on hand, its my favorite soda.