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Bee swarm season arrives with warmer weather

Beekeepers will remove bee swarms at no cost for homeowners across much of Colorado, including the Denver area.

DENVER — Bee swarm season is now, with reports of swarms at Denver area homes and businesses spiking over the last few days.

Gregg "The Bee Guru" McMahan says he's been busy taking calls to his swarm hotline (1-844-779-2337 or 1-844 SPY BEES). 

"It always comes in waves," he said.

Springtime is typically when bee hives do a lot of reproducing and expanding to new locations, he said, and warmer weather tends to make bees more active, if not more aggressive.

McMahan is the owner of Rocky Mountain Bee Removal, Rescue and Education. He's also the swarm dispatcher for the Colorado State Beekeepers Association for Denver, Westminster and Arvada.

He takes calls for help and then assigns beekeepers in his network to each job. For homeowners, the work is typically free of charge.

Credit: KUSA
Bee swarm being relocated from a home in Denver.

Occasionally, McMahan will do the work himself. That was the case Monday morning at a home near 3rd and Ash in Denver where just one front yard had at least three large swarms.

"Yeah, I just called him, what, 45 minutes ago," homeowner Jan Cotter said.

"All I noticed was that there were thousands of things flying around in my front yard. And then I came outside and saw this hive. I never even saw that hive," Cotter said pointing at one tree and then another in her yard.

McMahan took down one swarm by simply shaking the bees into a beehive box filled with frames.

Credit: KUSA
Gregg "The Bee Guru" McMahan removing a bee swarm from a tree in Denver

He did not wear a bee suit, despite his own advice. 

"Those girls were mean. They're typically not that mean," he said. "This is why beekeepers at home should always put on a bee suit first."

When dealing with swarms, one sting often leads to more because of what McMahan calls an alarm pheromone. 

"It smells like bananas and it lets all the other girls know, 'hey, come sting Gregg over here because he left his bee suit at home.'"

For the job Monday, he called another beekeeper to help reach a second, higher swarm in a different tree on the property.

Credit: KUSA
Bee swarm on a tree in Denver

"All over the state we have beekeepers who want to come out and remove these for free," McMahan said. "We don’t want to kill them. We just want to grab them and move them to a new house."

He estimates each swarm a beekeeper removes saves that beekeeper roughly $150, making the deal a win-win.

McMahan estimates each swarm season lasts about six weeks, with roughly four more weeks left in the current season.

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