Friday, July 3, 2015

Questions to ask when the Swarm phone call comes

I got two swarm calls last year.

Last year was a slow year for swarms.  The year before that I was getting so many swarm calls that I was passing them on to other beekeeping friends.  I had collected about ten myself.  That was a fun spring.

This year has been super slow.  I guess I'm out of practise which explains how I goofed up on the call today.
The cell rang and a man said he had a small swarm of bees under a table on his deck.  He reported checking underneath and seeing their brown combs.

Well, that confirmed it for me.... see how out of practise I was with phone work regarding swarms.  People don't lie, they just don't know anything about bees or what combs should look like.  We need to question them to find out more.

The good news is that I asked him to send me a photo.  The photo above is what he sent.

So to help you when you get calls here are some questions that can help shorten the phone call.  Of course a photo is always best, either of the hive or the insect.

  1. Are they fuzzy, brown and black? (view photos on the web site - feel free to refer to mine at http://www.bee-magic.com/beeswarms.aspx where there's photos of bumble bees, honey bees, yellow jackets and bald faced hornets)
  2. Have you seen them bringing pollen on their legs?
  3. Is the hive round and looks like brown paper with a hole at the bottom (paper wasp nest)?
  4. What size is the swarm on the tree?  Baseball, football, volleyball, baseketball sized?  How high off the ground is it?
  5. How large is the area they are coming and going from?  Honey bees need lots of space to build a nest.
If you have questions you like to ask, feel free to add them in the comments below.
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