Swarm Information

Although bee swarms are a very natural process, when it happens, most people aren’t sure what to do.

When you see a bee swarm outside the hive, it’s a sign that a hive has two queens, when only one is needed. One of these queens, and all her workers, need to find somewhere else to live and work.

While swarms are rarely dangerous – if left undisturbed – many people have a fear of insects that look like they sting.

Most of these insects are just ‘doing their own thing’ and leaving them alone will reduce the risk of stinging. However, it is recognized that – in some cases – insects can create ongoing problems.

If you think bees are causing a concern in your area – or you’ve seen them swarming – this information will help you decide what to do.

1. Know the difference between honey bees and other flying insects.

A honey bee’s distinctive yellow and black colouring make them readily identifiable, but not all flying yellow-and-black insects are honey bees! These visuals and identification tips can help you with determining a honey bee from other insects.

  • Honey bees are relatively large, slim insects (about 12 mm or 1/2” long), with three distinct body parts and four wings. They are covered with short hair and range in colour from a dusty yellow to almost black. They usually have a few bands of contrasting colour across their abdomen.
  • Honey bees are NOT shiny or bright black.
  • Honey bees DO NOT have a single bright yellow or orange band across their abdomen.
  • Honey bees do NOT have nests that are covered in ‘paper’.
  • Honey bees do NOT dig nests in the ground, make nests in old mouse nests or similar spots.
  • Honey bees do NOT cut holes in the leaves of ornamental plants.

2.How can I identify a swarm?

Honey bee swarms are most noticeable when there is a dense group of insects flying in all directions but tending, as a group, to move in one direction.

Once the swarm lands (or clusters) it becomes a very dense mass of bees that can be clustered in a tree or bush, on a fence post or the side of a building. A swarm that clusters in an exposed area may just be resting and may move on to find permanent residence in a more sheltered spot where they can build their wax comb.

A swarm is best described as a soccer ball-sized cluster that is attached high up on a tree or building without any sort of a nest. Wasps and bumble bees do not swarm (if you see a grey ‘paper’ nest, that’s a wasp, not a bee). If you see a swarm, you’ve got honey bees.

3.What should I do if I find a swarm?

Swarms land or cluster in trees or bushes, on fence posts or the sides of buildings. Sometimes, this is an out-of-the-way spot, but other times, it’s in a place that’s not ideal for the new colony to reside permanently.

Be aware that swarms are intent on finding a new location to establish, not on attacking. When honey bees are in a swarm, they are in a docile state. Having said that, keep your distance because when bees feel threatened, or the swarm is disturbed, they can sting.

Sometimes, if you leave a swarm for several hours, or a day or two, it moves on. If you’ve observed the swarm for a couple of days and it doesn’t seem to be moving, the best thing to do is call a swarm catcher or someone who is experienced to remove a swarm before the bees settle permanently. Don’t try to move or destroy the swarm yourself.

2019 Swarm Catchers

When reporting a swarm please include a photo, details such as address, height (location), as well as contact information (phone and/or email).


Malcolm Connell 780.239.9649 (cell)  connellmjm@hotmail.com

Gus Mehos  780.984.0586 (cell)  (Sherwood Park, Beaumont, Leduc)

Craig Toth 780.460.7773 (cell) (St. Albert and surrounding areas)

Wilf Nicolichuk 780.987.4048 and 780.987.3053 (Devon)

John Kolodiy 780 454 8886




Other Areas

Dirk Kuerschner 403-929-1500  hescomingsoon@hotmail.com  (Lethbridge & surrounding area)

If you believe you have a problem with insects other than honey bees, consult your local Yellow Pages for a pest control service. Extermination should be considered only as a last resort.

Bees, Hornets, and Wasps of the World - AlansFactoryOutlet.com - Infographic