Last week I received a call in the office for a couple that had a honey bee swarm at their house and were looking for someone to help remove it. While UGA Extension doesn’t provide bee removal, we do try our best to connect beekeepers with homeowners looking for honey bee removal. Honey bee swarms are very common, particularly this time of year, and there are some do’s and don’ts you should keep in mind.

            First off- why do honey bees swarm? Swarming is a natural behavior in the life cycle of a honey bee colony. A honey bee colony typically contain several hundred to several thousand bees, all of whom have specific jobs or purposes in the hive.  In mid-winter, the queen of a hive starts laying eggs to start the next generation of bees. As those eggs hatch and mature into bees, the colony becomes overcrowded. In the late spring and early summer, large groups of honey bees may leave the established colony in search of a new home, creating a swarm. This swarming process creates two colonies out of the old one, typically 1/3 to ½ of the size of the original. Once a group of honey bees swarm, they will cluster on a tree, shrub, or other object. The majority of the bees will stay put while scouting bees search for a suitable location for the new colony. Usually, this process only takes a day or two. Once a new home is found, the swarm breaks up and flies to it as a group.

            While a honey bee swarm might be an alarming sight to see, they’re truly not a concern for most people. To be clear, if you have a bee allergy, please be cautious and do not put yourself in danger! However, during a swarm period, honey bees are not aggressive. Most of the time if honey bees are aggressive towards you, it’s because they are trying to protect their hive, brood, or honey stores. Since a swarm has none of those things, they tend to be pretty docile, with their focus on finding a new home and protecting their queen. With that said, I do not recommend you disturb or agitate a swarm of honey bees, as they can and will sting you.

            If you are faced with a honey bee swarm, the best course of action is to leave it alone. Please do not attempt to destroy, shoo away, or spray the swarm with an insecticide. Honey bees are critical for pollination of many plants, including those that feed people.  If the swarm is located somewhere dangerous, such as a playground, or sticks around for more than a few days, you may want to contact a beekeeper to come collect it. There are a few individuals in the region who do so- feel free to contact our office for some names.

            As a final warning – bee swarms are often attracted to spaces in walls, decks, or other areas that provide safe housing for the colony. Be sure to prevent entry by caulking entry sites like knot holes, siding gaps, and openings for electric and plumbing. If a colony takes up residence in your home, a certified bee remover must be used to get rid of them.  A licensed structural pest control company or operator can be found at the Georgia Department of Agriculture website (

            Honey bees are one of my favorite insects to learn about, and truly a fascinating species. Should you have more questions about them, please contact us at 706-359-3233 or

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