I came across this swarm of bees at 3pm today on Broadway near Maryland. Downtown Glendale seems to have a ton of bee related activity that I've previously documented here, here and here. What causes this type of bee swarm?
Swarming is the natural means of reproduction of honey bee colonies. A new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees, a process called swarming. In the prime swarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen. This swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees. Swarming is mainly a spring phenomenon, usually within a two- or three-week period depending on the locale, but occasional swarms can happen throughout the producing season.
I saw this particular swarm as I was coming back from lunch. The fire department put some tape around the scene and then left. When I walked around the block a few hours later the bees were gone. I'm not sure if they were removed or left on their own.
A few hours later, there were just a few stragglers left, probably wondering where the party went.
What do you do if there is a swarm in your backyard -- or office? According to my friend - and amateur apiarist - Erik Knutzen, you can call the local volunteers from the non-profit Backwards Beekeepers' bee rescue hotline. If you're lucky, their A-Team of Bee-keepers will help you out.
The volunteers of the Backwards Beekeepers save wild bees in the Los Angeles area and make new beekeepers through education and helpful guidance. If you have a swarm that's easily reachable, or bees living in some easily accessible area (NOT a chimney), we may be able to help you.
The Backwards Beekeepers also have a list of for-profit bee removal firms that specialize in live bee removal and don't use harmful chemicals.
Erik blogs at Root Simple and, with his wife Kelly, writes books about urban homesteading that are available from Amazon here and here.
Previously on Tropico Station: