The advent of warmer weather and plenty of plants in bloom means honeybees are active. Spring swarms are common as bees look to establish new colonies, and they may find your yard enticing.
LSU AgCenter county agent Keith Hawkins says it is best to leave a colony alone or call in an experienced beekeeper.
“We encourage humane removal of bees,” Hawkins said. “We need bees’ pollination services, and a beekeeper could bring them into a hive where they would be used for pollination and honey production.”
Even if the bee swarm isn’t a nuisance, Hawkins recommends calling a beekeeper so the bees could be put into a hive and managed. He said bee services are vital since colonies began collapsing several years ago. Calling an exterminator or trying to destroy the hive yourself should be a last resort.
In Louisiana, honeybees provide $400 million in free pollination services, and commercial beekeepers produce about 2 millions pounds of honey a year.
Hawkins, a member of the Southwest Louisiana Beekeepers Association, says he has seen an increase in bee activity in recent weeks.
“Colonies have grown too large, and this time of the year they may split and create a new one,” Hawkins said.
Many beekeepers are equipped to remove swarms from inside walls because killing bees there can create serious problems, Hawkins said. The honey can ferment inside the walls and damage wooden structures or attract other insects and animals. Beekeepers have special equipment that sucks the hive out without killing the bees.
Most beekeepers, however, are not equipped to remove nests of other stinging insects such as wasps or yellow jackets.
To locate a beekeeper in your area, you can contact a local LSU AgCenter office.
LSU AgCenter’s website has a list of beekeepers which includes their locations and how far they will travel to remove swarms. Go to the “Environment and Natural Resources” section of http://www.LSUAgCenter.com and click on “Insects and Relatives” to access the list.
If you’d like more information about beekeeping, you can sign up for Hawkins’ “beemail” by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.