A swarm of bees in May Is worth a load of hay; A swarm of bees in June Is worth a silver
spoon A swarm of bees in July Is not worth a fly.
If you are present when a swarm arrives, move quietly away - don't run or flap your
arms - remove children and pets - go indoors. Contact a beekeeper - see 'Swarm Retrieval'.
As a colony of honeybees becomes more populous, overcrowding causes the colony to
swarm - usually in May, June and July. The old queen and approximately half the colony
leave to find a new home. A new Queen will eventually take over the parent colony.
Beekeepers do not want to lose half their work force and take steps to prevent their
colonies from swarming. However, the urge to swarm is strong - it is nature's way
of propagating the species and increasing the chances of survival. Beekeepers have
no control over feral colonies. Consequently, 20,000 honeybees may arrive in your
garden and cluster on, for example, a tree branch. This is a swarm!
After flying around they will eventually settle and form a rugby ball shaped cluster.
They check that the queen is present and scout bees search for a suitable location
for a new home. Usually the swarm moves to the selected new site within a few hours.
Although 20,000 bees flying around your garden can be alarming to a non-beekeeper,
the danger is not very great. Before the bees leave the parent colony they gorge
themselves with honey to provision their journey and in order to build comb, They
are 'full-up' and in a 'holiday mood'!