October 05, 2016

Why Do Honey Bees Swarm?

Why do honey bees swarm? They’re not angry, hungry, scared or bored. Swarming is a natural event in the life of a bee colony and occurs in the springtime when food sources are readily available and the bee numbers are rapidly increasing. It’s a good sign, indicating that the hive is strong enough to split.

The old queen and about two-thirds of the bees leave the old hive behind to search for a new home. Prior to leaving the old hive, they will make several new queen cells, so a new queen will be born and take over the remaining hive.

Commercially, we try to avoid bee swarms, as we need all of the hives at full strength going into the Manuka Honey season. We minimize swarms by removing frames of brood (bee eggs and larva) from the stronger hives, and moving them to the weaker ones. However, as this video shows, sometimes the bees get ahead of the beekeeper. In this case, the old queen landed on top of the beekeeper’s head, so the rest of the swarm followed!

October is springtime in Taranaki, New Zealand, and our beekeepers are busy with swarm control and generally gearing up for the season. Bees & Trees Manuka honey is produced in small batches from hive to jar.

Know where your honey comes from.

Purchase Bees & Trees Manuka honey here.