PRIMEFACT 93 - NSW Department of Primary
is part of the natural reproductive life cycle of honey bees. The
swarming season is usually between September and December but on rare
occasions colonies may swarm at other times. Warmer weather, combined
with an abundance of nectar and pollen, stimulate the colony to
increase in population. This causes over-crowding which prompts some
bees to swarm so they can reproduce. Swarms usually emerge from the
colonies between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm on warm sunny days. The old
queen, together with about half of the bees from the colony, leave the
hive and cluster on a nearby object such as a fence or a small shrub.
The swarm may remain for a few hours or 1–2 days while scout bees
(worker bees) search for a permanent nesting site. Once found, the
swarm will move to this site and establish a new colony.
swarms are not normally aggressive because they are gorged full of
honey and are homeless, which reduces their defensive behaviour.
A swarm will become
increasingly defensive, if provoked, the longer it remains in a given
In the original colony, a new
queen emerges and continues to maintain the parent colony.
Swarms and people
People who are not familiar
with honey bees often have a fear of them.
Swarming bees are generally
not inclined to sting provided they are left alone, but the following
precautions should be taken:
you see a swarm settling on your property keep children and pets inside
the house until the flying bees have clustered onto a bush or another
After the swarm has
clustered and most of the bees have stopped flying, it is normally safe
to be outside the house.
Keep children and animals
well away from the swarm.
Arrange to have the swarm
removed (see ‘Removal of swarms’ below).
Wear footwear to protect
your feet in case bees have settled on the ground.
not attempt to move the swarm by hosing it, throwing stones at it,
smoking the bees or taking any action to make the swarm move. This
action will only aggravate the bees and encourage them to sting in
defence. Interfering with the swarm will make it more difficult for a
beekeeper or licensed pest control operator to deal with the bees.
Removal of swarms
is easier to have a swarm cluster removed from your property before it
moves to a permanent location, such as a wall cavity, where it will be
more difficult and expensive to remove.
Do not attempt to remove a
© State of New South Wales 2005