North Platte Man Finds Bee Swarm In His Yard: Experts Say There Aren't Enough

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UNL Extension Educator talks about making your landscape more bee friendly. At the same time a NP man finds a huge bee swarm on his tree branch.

Photo Credit: Loren Bayne

So why would the swarm of bees relocate so quickly like Bayne said happened outside his home?

According to Tim Gibb, Insect Diagnostician, Purdue University, Swarms usually occur in late spring or early summer when a queen bee leaves the original colony due to overcrowding and takes with her a large group of worker bees to find a new home.  These bees all fly off as a group but then may cluster on a tree limb, shrub or other object for an hour to a few days, while scouting bees are searching for a new nest site.  When a suitable location for the new colony, such as a hollow tree, is found the cluster breaks up and flies to it.

People need not be overly frightened by bee swarms because the bees at this stage of their life cycle lack a hive to defend.  Until they have a new hive, they are not very aggressive. This does not mean that bees will not sting if they are provoked, however. They simply have no hive to defend and thus are much less likely to attack.

In most situations, witnessing a swarm of honey bees offers a rare learning opportunity.  Swarms are beautiful in their own right and should be appreciated (from a safe distance).  They are a marvel of nature and offer an opportunity to teach people, young and old, about how bees communicate, their biology (possibly an opportunity to discuss the birds and the bees) as well as an opportunity to appreciate their value to the environment and the tremendous benefits that they provide people.  Pollination is probably the most valuable of these benefits, followed by honey and wax production. 

So, in most situations when a honey bee swarm is found on a tree, shrub or house, no action is required. Remember that swarms are almost always temporary and the bees will move on within hours, or at most a few days, if you patiently ignore them.

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. For years, honey bees have been dying off at an alarming rate. The phenomenon is known as "Colony Collapse Disorder."

If it continues it could impact prices on some food you buy at the grocery store.

To help curb the problem experts in North Platte are educating people on how to make their landscape more bee friendly.

When Loren Bayne walked outside of his home on South Elm Street recently he saw bees, thousands of them hanging on a branch of his tree.

"I thought it was pretty cool because bees are supposed to be dying out everywhere, and this looked like a new swarm to me," said Bayne.

Bayne is right and it's known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

That's why UNL Extension Educator David Lott is helping people in North Platte understand why bees are so important to us.

"If the bee population went down it would greatly impact the price and availability of different types of foods," said Lott.

Bees pollinate the majority of our fruit and vegetable supply.

"There is a concern about not having enough pollen and nectar in the area throughout the United States to keep bees from starving," said Lott.

So why are the bees dying off?

Experts say they are still trying to determine that, but in the mean time Lott says he talks with many people about making their landscape more bee friendly.

"So they have a food source as well as bringing diversity into the landscape," said Lott.

Another initiative beekeepers and others are intentionally starting bee hives in different areas.

As for Bayne who woke up to a bee surprise, he says his swarm went away over night.

"The whole neighborhood was over here looking at it," said Bayne.

If you spot a swarm in your yard don't be so quick to pull out the poison. Instead call a beekeeper so they can relocate the bees!


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