In the spring, a young man’s fantasy may turn slightly to thoughts of love, but for young bees it turns to thoughts of finding a new place to live. This can lead to swarming behavior, which can be alarming, but that’s no reason to panic, according to local beekeeper Rose Schlosser.
“I think a lot of people are afraid of flying things,” she said. “But bees are not one of the bad guys. They are generally quite docile. They’re just doing their thing, not trying to hurt anyone.
Honey bee swarms peak in Loveland during the months of April, May and June, she said, when established hives are developing.
“They want to procreate like everyone else,” Schlosser explained. “They’re just trying to make more bees. So they need more space, that’s usually what it boils down to. Half of them leave and the other half stay.
When searching for new digs, bees tend to prefer enclosed spaces that are protected from the elements. It could be a hollow log or tree, or a small hole in the siding of your house.
“That’s when you hear about a beehive inside your walls,” Schlosser said.
If you notice swarming behavior in your yard or near your house, Schlosser said it’s best to keep your distance. Although docile, the insects will defend themselves from intruders with a sting.
Instead, help is available from volunteers from the Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association, who will come and capture the swarm for free.
“It’s very fast,” Schlosser said. “If someone calls the swarm hotline, there are calls to all the volunteers, and the first person who says, ‘I can drive there right now,’ they go. So these are people who have experience with bees and who have experience in catching swarms. They know what to do, what not to do and how to do it safely.
The volunteers will take the bees to a new hive managed by a beekeeper. Many times it’s actually a healthier environment than a wild hive, Schlosser said.
“There are diseases, and mites are a pretty big problem with bee populations and if left unmanaged, that’s often what can wipe out a hive… Even if it’s not in a residential area, it is better to have them with a beekeeper and make sure that they receive food at the right time, and that they will not starve during the winter.
Schlosser started beekeeping three years ago because she “wanted to help pollinators.” She has since started three hives in the backyard of her downtown home and produced at least 11 gallons of honey.
She urged anyone else interested in the plight of these insects to contact the NCBA for lessons and demonstrations.
“It’s little fuzzy things, going about their business and making the world a better place,” she said. “If you just let them live their little lives, they’ll reward us with pollinator food and flowers and all that.”
To reach the NCBA Swarm Hotline, call 970-658-4949.