Colorado seeing large bee swarms

KUSA - Beekeeper Gregg McMahan says that he is witnessing the largest swarm season in Colorado in memory.

This weekend, beekeepers said they simply couldn't handle all the calls for collection of swarms. They said bee populations exploded in April, and now the old queens from those hives are out looking for a new home. That means that huge swarms of more than 20,000 bees are turning up in the oddest places.

They are appearing up in trees, on car tires and even hitching a ride on passing cars. April was perfect weather for bee reproduction and hives are over-crowded.

"They reproduced thousands and thousands of bees in each little hive, and then they split in half and now we have swarms all over the city," McMahan said.

They typically show up in a tight ball

"Right in the middle of the ball is the old queen from the old hive. She left the hive when the new one was born and she took half of the bees with her," McMahan said.

Beekeepers all over the state are racing to collect the swarms, employing all kinds of different methods. One swarm in Highlands Ranch proved difficult, as the queen had wrapped the hive population around tree branches in a small tree. The beekeeper had to "shake" them free, in order to get them into the hive box on the ground below.

"The idea is the queen is right in the middle and if we can get her into the box, everybody else will follow," McMahan said.

There's a porch on the front of the hive box, and the hive population simply marches in after the queen.

"She has such strong pheromones, they all smell it and they all just follow her right wherever the queen goes," McMahan explained. "They have their other sisters at the front door sending out more pheromones that draw those bees into the hive."

The bees in a swarm are not aggressive. McMahan says don't panic when they arrive.

"Don't go and get your can of spray and start spraying these bees. Don't get a plastic bag and wrap them up and kill them. This is your chance to do something right for the environment," he said.

McMahan says call a beekeeper and then sit back and watch the show.

Contact the Colorado State Beekeepers Associationat the SWARM HOTLINE: 970-213-3099.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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