A swarm of bees sounds like a terrifying thing, but once you know what the bees are doing, it’s actually quite fascinating!

When you see a large cloud of bees in the sky, a colony is on the move. They will stop and gather (in a tree, on a side view mirror, a picnic table,) before heading to their new home. But why are they moving?

Bee’s swarm to create a new colony, it’s how they procreate a new hive. Usually in the spring or early summer, a healthy bee hive will signal to the colony as a whole that it is ready to make a new colony. About 60-65% of the worker bees, along with their queen will leave the hive on a warm sunny day in search of a new home. They will pour out of the hive and into the air filling it with thousands of bees. As the queen finds a place to rest, her scent, or pheromones, attract her workers to gather around her. Some scout bees will leave the swarm cluster to search for a new home. Using their special “waggle dance” and “bee democracy” they lead others to check out the new home options until most of the scout bees are doing the same dance for the same location and the swarm moves to the chosen location.

The bees that remained in the original hive will feed one or more eggs royal jelly and elongate their honeycomb cells to accommodate the longer body of a developing queen. When one emerges, she will kill the other queens and then head out for her mating flight and return to the hive to start laying eggs.

Swarms can be calmer than a regular hive because they are not defending a home hive, brood (babies) and honey stores.