Mid-April to late June is a typical time for honey bee swarm season in Colorado.
“We will be expecting swarms to emerge in the next couple of weeks.” according
to Beth Conrey, Past-President of the Colorado State Beekeepers Association
The Colorado State Beekeepers Association (CSBA), a statewide organization of
beekeepers, is dedicated to honey bee health. For the 9 th year, they are running
the “Swarm Hotline” and are asking folks to keep an eye out for swarming honey
bees. The swarm hotline has been such a success that the CSBA has set up a
new toll-free statewide number for swarm calls: 844-779- 2337 (844-SPY- BEES).
A swarm is one of the true wonders of nature. Swarms emerge in the spring
when a healthy hive becomes too crowded and part of them leave to form a new
hive. When the queen lands on a branch or post, the rest of the bees all land
near her forming a “ball of bees”. Swarms are harmless—but can be intimidating
to the average citizen. Conrey says, “Do not spray a swarm with water or
insecticide. Simply pick up the phone and call the swarm hotline. We will
dispatch a beekeeper to pick it up—usually within an hour.” Swarms are not only
a fascinating natural process of honey bee reproduction, they are a sign of
something promising: healthy honey bees in Colorado.
The health and well being of honey bees has been in jeopardy since 2006.
Beekeepers began reporting losses of 30-90 percent of their hives, according to
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The bees were just gone without a
trace, leaving behind a puzzle that has a label, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Bee scientists say there’s no single explanation for CCD: it’s just everything that
bees are exposed to these days: pests, pathogens, pesticides, and the lack of
As Earth Day approaches the CSBA wants to make people more aware of the
important link between healthy honey bee populations, human interaction, and
our food supply. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC),
bees pollinate more than $15 billion worth of crops each year in the United States
alone. Put another way, one of every three bites of food Americans consume
comes from a plant visited by bees or other pollinators. Without bees, many
fruits, vegetables and nuts (especially almonds) would disappear from our diets.
There are thousands of managed bee colonies in Colorado and they are typical
of colonies throughout the country with losses in the 30-70% range annually.
Bees that are healthy enough to swarm are called “survivor” bees and are crucial
to sustaining bee populations in Colorado.
If you see a swarm, please call the SWARM HOTLINE: 970-658-4949 or 1-844- 779-2337 (844-
SPY-BEES) or for more information about honey bees and swarms go to nocobees.org