“Oh Honey, We’ve Got Bees!!” Swarm Season is Upon Us

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Fort Bend County

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Fort Bend County will again offer honeybee swarm traps to the community. For many years, the Extension Service has referred calls to beekeepers for help in dealing with honey bee problems. In cooperation with the Fort Bend Beekeepers Association, the Rosenberg Extension office can now provide a specially constructed trap to lure swarms of honey bees away from homes and structures. Honey bees are cavity nesters and the trap offers a desirable home as an alternative to moving into a location that would be in conflict with people. Luring the bees into a trap avoids the costly help of a bee removal service or exterminator after they have established themselves in the wall or soffit of someone’s house. According to County Extension Agent Boone Holladay, “Trapping may avoid a new infes-tation but, unfortunately, it cannot lure bees out of an existing nest. Preventing an existing colo-ny from becoming a source of new problems is our plan.”

“Reproductive swarms usually happen in the springtime when forage is plentiful, so ‘swarm sea-son’ is just around the corner”, Holladay says. (“Absconding” is the term beekeepers use for en-tire colonies that “swarm”, abandoning their nest, usually due to an unsuitable site, pests or disease. Absconding can happen at any time of the year.) A football-sized cluster of bees hanging from a tree limb or on a wooden fence are awaiting the return of scouts that will guide them to a new nest site. The worst advise anyone can receive is “don’t worry, they’ll leave” since the rest of the sentence may well be “and move into your attic.” The clustered swarm may wait a day or two for the scouts to locate a suitable cavity for the colony to occupy. At this point, timely advice from a beekeeper can make a huge difference. Perhaps a beekeeper can capture the swarm and introduce them into a hive as their new home. If not a man-aged hive, hopefully the bees will move into a hollow tree or maybe an abandoned birdhouse. Bees have a heightened sense of smell, so they easily find where bees have lived before.

If honey bees have been a recurring problem or an existing colony might result in more problems, the swarm trap program may be of significant help. Contact the Extension office during business hours at 281- 633-7029 and make arrangements to pick up a honey bee trap. Hang the trap securely about four or five feet above the ground (a tree or wooden fence makes a good trap site). Check the trap frequently and when you notice bees occupying it, call the Extension office immediately. They will have an area beekeeper contact you to remove the trap and move the bees into a managed hive. It is best to move the trap after dark so that all the bees are inside (you don’t want foraging bees to return to find their home is gone). The swarm trap is for a swarm on the move. If you have had bees in structures for some length of time, traps aren’t your answer. Contact the Extension office and we can offer a list of bee removal service providers.

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