What's the buzz with bee swarms?




Posted on May 14, 2014 at 5:46 PM

SEATTLE -- Several bee swarms have been spotted in Seattle this week, and experts are reminding us to stay calm and step away from the bug spray.

Christine Ranegger, a member of the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, says it's been a great year for urban honey bee hives. The hobby is growing in popularity in the Seattle area.

"I think it goes hand in hand with chickens," she said. "People like to produce their own food, know where it comes from."

Ranegger showed us the queen bee in one of her hives. It is the single egg-laying bee in the colony, the one with the longer body that takes half the hive to search for a new nest.

It is called swarming, and this time of year, especially in sunny weather following a rainy spell, we'll see it more often.

Recently, West Seattle was abuzz with three swarms. The West Seattle Blog snapped several photos of one at Westwood Village Shopping Center.

"You don't want to spray them with water," said Ranegger. "You don't want to aggravate them with a stick or anything."

She explained that swarms are a fairly safe sight that shouldn't sting.

"Bees in a swarm are the most peaceful bees you will ever encounter," she said. "They gorge themselves on honey before leaving. So they are well fed and happy. And they have no breed or honey to defend. They're just house hunting."

Just like they did at Westwood Village, the PSBA will send a beekeeper out and remove the swarm, free of charge.

The PSBA has a swarm list of local beekeepers in your area.