With the heat arriving in Chilliwack, bee swarms could be more common, like the one recovered by beekeeper Hans Krul in Garrison Crossing last year. (Shaina Partridge photo)

Honeybee swarms can be collected safely in Chilliwack

There’s a community of beekeepers in Chilliwack, and a few swarm collectors too

Hot spring weather can bring out the honeybee swarms.

But there is no need to panic if you see one. There are honeybee “swarm collectors” in Chilliwack who are willing to help.

When a swarm has taken off, that is when they’re relatively docile, without a home or honey to defend.

We’re not talking about wasps or hornets or even bumblebees. But honeybees.

Luckily the Chilliwack Beekeepers community has a few volunteers willing to come collect them for free.

If you see one, the best thing to do in Chilliwack is to contact Laura Delisle, Chilliwack Beekeepers Community Coordinator.

She has only had one call so far this spring.

“With all the hot weather we’ve been having we’ve seen a lot of bee colonies swarm,” said Delisle.

”I think the big worry about swarms is over, as most hives that are going to swarm have already done so over the past three weeks with the heat waves, but that is not to say there isn’t still chances for them.”

Bees typically swarm into June.

There is actually a saying that goes:

“A swarm in May is worth a load of hay, a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon, but a swarm in July is not worth a fly.”

The community coordinator of the bee swarm collectors said she is a little surprised not to have had more calls so far in 2018.

“People are either not seeing them high up in trees, or they are finding homes in nooks and crannies, or there are beekeepers catching them! I have, however, received calls for wasps and bumbles,” Delisle said.

But they can’t help with those.

The Chilliwack Beekeeping Community has a list of dedicated ‘swarm catchers’ in the community, who are happy to come collect a honeybee swarm, free of charge. Call the group coordinator, Laura at 604-819-9278 or email: chilliwackbeekeepers@gmail.com

What is a swarm?

A phenomenon when a large percentage of the population a honeybee hive (thousands upon thousands of bees), make the decision to ‘take off’ and find another home. This may happen for a number of reason: overcrowding in the hive, humidity and temperature issues, etc. While swarm management is a crucial aspect of beekeeping to prevent the loss of bees, swarming is inherent in their nature and so swarms can happen even with the best prevention.

After bees decide to leave the hive, they cluster centered around the queen, until they make up their minds where the next home will be. In this stage, you will find a large clump of bees hanging from a tree or other structure – in which they will stay anywhere from an hour to a week, depending on environmental factors, their ability to find a home, and more.

What should I do if I see a swarm?

Don’t panic. Honeybees in a swarm are at their gentlest – with no home or honey reserve to defend, they are relatively calm and docile.

Contact your local beekeepers. Beekeepers are happy to come and collect the swarm as a free service. They have the equipment and knowledge needed to take care of the swarm.

But do call someone as soon as you spot a swarm. You never know when the bees will decide to change locations – and maybe the next location won’t be as easy to capture (e.g. they might move to a higher elevation (roof tops, tree tops), or inside a building attic/wall, etc.)


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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