SWARMS! call 510-898-6696

Swarm Help!

If there’s a swarm of bees in your yard, call 510-898-6696 to be connected with a local beekeeper who will safely remove them.

Swarms: Removal and Extraction

© 2012 A. Azevedo
A typical honey bee swarm © 2012 A. Azevedo

A swarm of bees may seem awesome or frightening. If one lands in your yard, there is no need to worry.

An established hive of honeybees throws off a swarm when it has become too crowded. This is the natural way for colonies to reproduce. When a colony swarms, a group of bees from the colony, with a queen bee in the center, takes off from the crowded hive and travels to look for a new home. This group may be as small as a golf ball or as large as a couple of basketballs, but is generally the size of a football. Before finding a place to establish a new colony, the swarm comes to rest anywhere from five minutes to a week in one location, clustering on a branch, bush, tree or massing together some kind of other structure like walls, chairs, fences, or even cars.

If a swarm has recently arrived in your yard, it most likely won’t bother you, if you don’t disturb it. The bees are tired, hungry and not aggressive. Please treat them with care. Don’t spray them with anything or throw anything at them.

Instead, call a beekeeper who remove them for free and provide the swarm with a new, safe home.

Established colonies and extraction

If the honeybees you see are not hanging in a large cluster outside but are instead flying in and out through a small opening or hole in a tree trunk or from a structure on your property—the wall, eaves, or other feature of your house or place of business—this is not a “swarm.” It is instead what we call an “established colony” of bees that will need to be removed in a process called “structural extraction.” Although an extraction is slightly more involved, requiring more work, time and expense than the removal of a swarm, bees in an established colony can be often be removed live as well.

The ACBA has beekeepers experienced in doing such extractions. There will be a fee, to be negotiated with the individual beekeeper.

Please note that these services are for honeybee removal only. The ACBA cannot provide help with wasps or yellowjackets.

For more information on identifying honeybees, click here: Identifying Honeybees and Wasps

Getting help

The Alameda County Beekeepers Association maintains a list of members who are available to the community to capture swarms or extract established colonies. If you need help, call 510-898-6696.

Here is a list of other organizations around the Bay Area that have swarm capture and extraction services:

Alameda:              Alameda County Beekeeper Association
Marin:                   Marin County Beekeepers
Monterey:            Monterey Bay Beekeepers (ABC)
Napa:                     Beekeepers of Napa Valley
San Fransisco:    San Francisco Beekeepers Association
San Mateo:           Beekeepers’ Guild of San Mateo County
Santa Clara:         Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild
Santa Clara:         The Gilroy Beekeepers
Santa Cruz:          Santa Cruz Beekeepers Guild
Sonoma:                Sonoma County Beekeepers’ Association