The honey bee, Apis mellifera (L.), is our most beneficial insect. We must do all we can to protect bee colonies which are pollinators for many of our home and commercially grown fruits and vegetables.
Honey bee swarming season normally occurs in South Carolina during the months of May and June. A European honey bee colony will swarm normally once a year. Swarms occur in spring during strong nectar flows when the colony population outgrows its living quarters. The old queen and about half the bees will emerge from the parent colony to find a new home. The parent colony has made preparations to replace the old queen prior to swarm emergence. When the swarm emerges, the bees will cluster on a nearby tree limb or other object and remain there from an hour to sometimes twenty-four hours. Scout bees are dispatched to search for a new home for the swarm while the queen and remaining bees await their return. The swarm will fly en masse to the new home described by the most convincing scout bee. The new home may consist of a hollow in a tree, a vacant beehive, an abandoned water heater, a cavity in a wall of a structure, or any other void that meets the specifications of the scout bees.
Don’t be alarmed if you see a swarm on a tree limb or other structure. Simply keep your distance and do not disturb them. Typically, bees that are swarming have loaded up with nectar prior to leaving, making it very difficult for them to sting with a full abdomen.
If you see a swarm, we have a local beekeeper, Richey Lancianese (451-9990), who will come out and remove them. He lives in the White Oak neighborhood so is close by. When you have a swarm of honeybees on a low lying branch or tree, please call him. If he can reach them he will be glad to take them away. If he cannot reach them he will try to find someone who can – please don’t call an exterminator.
According to Richey, the honey made here in our neighborhoods is a rich, dark, amber – most likely from all the poplar along Chick Springs Rd and Dellwood area — it’s delicious.
For more information on bees see the Clemson Factsheet