Swarming is an instinctive part of the annual life cycle of a honeybee colony and is necessary for the species to survive.
Swarming occurs when a colony of honeybees divide and 30 to 70 percent of the bees, along with their queen, leave the hive to start a new colony. You may find a swarm of honeybees hanging from a tree branch or resting on your clothesline while they are looking for a new home. The swarm can be the size of a softball or as large as a basketball.
The tendency to swarm is usually greatest when the bees increase their population rapidly in the period before the honey-flow. Therefore, the cause of swarming is normally associated with a crowded brood (eggs/ larvae/ pupae) nest. Most swarming takes place in our area from April through June. There are other reasons why a honeybee colony will swarm: a lack of food, the age of the queen, bad odors, a heavy infestation of wax moths, repeated attacks by bears and other predators, and sometimes disease.
If You See a Swarm...
Please call the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Office at (828) 255-5522 if you notice a honeybee swarm. Cooperative Extension has a list of local beekeepers they can contact to catch a swarm. If the honeybees decide to take up residence inside the wall of your home or storage building, local beekeepers can help with that too.