When the flowers begin to bloom, the bees begin to produce honey and the size of the bee colonies increases, causing them to outgrow their nests. The queen and about half of the worker bees then leave the parent colony to find a new nesting site. This swarm of bees will fly about a mile (more or less, depending on the availability of potential food and nesting sites). Typically, a swarm will hang around in a large group for about a day, until one of the scout bees finds a suitable nesting site nearby for the colony to settle in. Swarms of bees often land on a fence, tree branch or building.
Are bees dangerous?
Seeing thousands of bees flying around or grouping together tends to alarm people. Don’t worry, the swarms are just looking for a new place to live and they won’t bother you. They don’t have a home or babies to take care of, so they’re not defensive. If a swarm of honey bees appears on your property, wait a day or two, and they will leave as normal.
Sometimes a bee colony will decide that the best place to start a new nest is in a human habitat. When bees establish their new nest near people, there is a potential risk of sting incidents. Any animal can become defensive if it feels the need to protect its family and home. Often people don’t know the nest is there until someone uses nearby lawn equipment and gets stung; bees hate weed trimmers. Beekeepers manage European bees in artificial hives which are inspected and placed where they pose no risk to humans, which is a very different situation from a wild colony settling near humans. If you see a place where bees are moving in and out, then a nest has already been established and you should call a bee removal professional. Fortunately, you can usually prevent bees from nesting in or near your home.
Protect your property from bees
Here are some steps you can take to deter bees and other critters, such as ants and rodents, from taking up residence in your home. First, scout your property for potential nesting sites. Bees prefer dry, enclosed spaces; As a general rule, think of any space large enough to fit a soccer ball and have an entrance at least the size of a penny. Jason Deeringer of Bee Serious Bee Removal said: “My most frequent calls are for bees inside hollow concrete block walls and utility boxes, even underground meter boxes.
Bees will also nest in places like eaves, chimneys, and porch columns.
“Homeowners should seal all holes with latex sealant or special ‘pest control’ foam. Holes where electrical wires lead into walls are common entrances for bees, such as at the back of irrigation or electrical boxes,” Deeringer said.
Larger openings can be covered with a metal screen or #8 hardware cloth. Install an upper damper on used chimneys. Watch for equipment stored outdoors: inside barbecues, boats and playground equipment, and under trailers and caravans that are rarely used. Remove or cover items such as tires, upside-down pots, and boards leaning against walls. Cover birdhouse entrances when it is not nesting season.
What can a bee removal professional do to minimize sting risks and owner liability when dealing with an established bee colony nesting in a human habitat? “Have liability insurance, hold a pest control operator’s license, and know bees so you can do the job as safely as possible,” Deeringer noted.
Bees are very valuable to all of us, pollinating our crops and providing us with healthy honey. Fortunately, human-bee conflicts can usually be avoided by monitoring nesting hotspots and excluding them from structures. For more information on bees, beekeeping, or pest control, contact the UF IFAS Extension in Osceola County: http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/osceola/ , 321-697-3000.
Jessica Sullivan as Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Officer with UF IFAS Extension – Osceola County.