The Difference Between A Bee Swarm And Beehive
Usually when a group of bees are spotted the words “swarm” and “hive” are used interchangeably by someone unaware of bee terminology to describe the sighting; however, these are two very different terms.
The text and images below should help you understand the difference between the two forms of honeybees. And if you are noticing honeybees on your property, referring to this article will be helpful to determine your plan of action on removing the bees.
A beehive (left)(click for larger image) is an established colony with honeycomb that is usually within a structure of some sort. Being enclosed allows the bees and their honeycomb to be protected from predators. Honeycomb is the mecca of the colony as it allows them to store food and produce new bees.
The bees are very protective when they have established honeycomb since it is resource rich. Usually, the hive will not be exposed and only a few bees will be seen entering and exiting the nest (seen below).
The bees within the hive work as a team to develop the nest, collect pollen, and produce enough food to last them through the winter. Although bees do not hibernate, they will become inactive during the colder months and rely on the food produced during the spring and summer.
Popular areas for hives to nest on properties include trees, irrigation boxes, roof eaves, wall voids, or any cracks/crevices. It is important to have the nest removed by a bee removal professional to avoid injury from stings – bees will become aggressive if they feel threatened.
The best way to describe a swarm is a group of bees that are in between homes. During the springtime, a portion of the bees will leave the nest due to overcrowding and search for a new nesting location. This can continue until June or July. The new group will huddle together surrounding the queen and send off a few bees to scout the proximity for an ideal living environment to build a new colony, hence their title of “scout bees”.
At this point, a swarm (right) has not developed any honeycomb and is the reason why swarms are usually docile. It is not recommended to provoke the swarm but generally a swarm of any size is harmless, even though the large cluster of bees appears intimidating.
Since honeybees are looking for a new place to live, the mass of bees will remain in an open space and rest on a tree, fence line, car, etc. is only temporary while the scout bees search for their next nesting spot.
If you have a swarm on your property, you can be assured they will leave within a couple of days. However, keep a close eye on the swarm to be sure that the location they permanently move to is not inside your home. If not, there should be no need to call a bee removal specialist, just wait a couple of days.