Frequently Asked Questions

Why do honeybees swarm?

Honeybee colonies naturally divide in the spring to establish new colonies. They need to have a community of bees including a queen and workers to start a new colony.

Due to a number of factors including high bee numbers, a lack of space, and an abundance of food, the bees make a collective decision to swarm. Swarms almost invariably come from healthy hives.

As each hive has only a single queen the bees prepare a number of large queen cells and feed the baby larvae more royal jelly than normal. This special diet triggers the larvae to develop into a queen. It takes approximately ten days until these queen cells are closed and the queen larvae start to pupate. At this time the older bees fill their stomachs with honey and leave the hive with the old queen (a swarm forms).

The swarm will leave the younger bees to carry on the existing hive. When the new queens emerge from their cells a week later, they will fight until only one remains in the old hive. These new queens may also leave with another swarm of bees (usually much smaller).

The swarm will usually settle in a tree 1 to 3 metres from the ground and form a large cluster of bees for a short period (from under an hour to as long as a few days on some occasions). Their stomachs are full of honey and they have little to protect, so are usually not very aggressive; however, it is wise to keep your distance and not to provoke them.

The scout bees go looking for a permanent home. They may find a hollow in a dead tree, a hole in a soffit or eaves of a house, a chimney, or gap between bricks in your house or shed. The bees seem to look for a home based on factors such as cavity size, ability to defend, and are positively drawn to the smell of old bee hives (beeswax).

Unfortunately unmanaged hives in NZ (feral bees) are unlikely to survive very long on their own. The feral bees will be attacked by introduced pests, including wasps and mites. Unmanaged hives also create places that can spread bee diseases. As the hive dies, it will be robbed by other healthy bee hives which can then become infected with disease. It is far better for the bees, and the New Zealand honey industry, to have a beekeeper monitoring the bees to keep them healthy.

A good sized honeybee swarm

A good sized swarm in a tree

How much do you charge to remove a swarm?

There is no charge to remove swarms in our free coverage area.

There is a charge to cover petrol outside our free coverage area. This depends on the distance so please ask us.

How much will you pay me for a swarm?

We don't buy swarms* ... but we might be able to find you a jar of honey :”)

* We have quite a few costs associated with our free swarm removal service. Swarms may turn out to be viable colonies, or may turn out to be carrying disease - which results in us having to destroy the bees and burn all the equipment we put them in. Destruction can be costly - these are risks we are prepared to take in order to give rescued bees a chance.

Will you sell me a swarm to put in my hive?

We don't sell swarms*. You are better to purchase a hive or nuc (nucleus starter hive) from a known source.

* Swarms may carry disease or have poor genetics. As experienced beekeepers we are prepared to give a swarm the months required to establish, be routinely inspected, and to prove itself. It would not be right to simply pass on these risks to anyone else.

NEED A SWARM OR HIVE REMOVED?

If you need fast, friendly and professional honeybee removal, give us a call.
We have the necessary specialised equipment for a fuss free removal and can help answer any questions you may have.

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