Beekeepers on the hunt for swarming bees

South Okanagan beekeeper Tim Bouwmeester is pictured with a swarm of bees in this contributed photo. Local beekeepers are asking to public to report swarms.
Image Credit: Contributed

PENTICTON - Beekeepers are asking for your help to spot swarming bees so they don't become a nuisance and local beekeepers can use them to create new colonies.

Uncaptured swarms can sometimes mean problems for homeowners, according to a media release. If they find small openings in roofs, they can establish themselves, resulting in a messy situation for the homeowner, who will likely need to have them exterminated.

A captured swarm is an affordable way for beekeepers to found new colonies, because purchasing a new colony can cost more than $100, South Okanagan beekeeper Tim Bouwmeester says in the release.

Swarms happen when a queen bee leaves the colony with a group of worker bees to establish a new colony.

As many as 60 per cent of the bees, sometimes in the thousands, will leave the old colony in a single mass movement. Swarming is natural characteristic of bees and provides a natural means of reproduction, allowing the establishment of new colonies in the wild, Bouwmeester says.

Swarms are impressive events to view, but they are not dangerous. Swarming bees rarely sting because they have no larvae to protect. The bees protect the queen by forming large balls on trees or overhangs, an action that provides warmth to the swarming colony as well. Swarming bees are generally sluggish and easy to handle.

“Having beekeepers capture them and take care of them is the best alternative for everyone,” Bouwmeester says.

In the South Okanagan, volunteer beekeepers will collect a swarm if called. Contact Tim Bouwmeester at, or by phone at 250-770-1434.

Image Credit: Contributed

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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