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Identifying a Swarm

A swarm experience depends on many factors and can vary signficantly based on the weather, the size and location of the swarm, and how long the swarm has been searching for a new home.

Honey bees typically swarm earlier in the season and are often confused with other yellow & black flying creatures that buzz. Chances are, if you are seeing a lot of flying activity of buzzing insects in September, they are wasps and not honey bees. 

Things you may see in a swarm:

  • a mass of bees hanging or sitting somewhere - perhaps in a tree or on a fence
  • docile temperament - they are just hanging out waiting for scouts to come back and tell them about any new homes they may have found
  • flying bees - scouts will come and go and if they group decides to move, they will take off and move together
  • honey bees - fuzzy, somewhat rounded honey bees

Things you won't see in a swarm:

  • wasps - smooth, shiny, sometimes striped and sometimes not striped with significantly narrow waists
  • vigorous foraging activity - sometimes bees will gather food or resin from trees or plants in overwhelming numbers - this occassionally is confused with a swarm