A long walk down Arizona’s list of powerful biting pests would require a second pair of shoes and a couple of bottles of water. From rattlesnakes and scorpions to fire ants, it can be hard to get worked up about the everyday bee. Adorable and incredibly important to our environment, bees are both beloved by the people of Arizona and feared. As March rounds into view, residents in Arizona become increasingly aware that bee season approaches and with it a new kind of danger.
Today, we are going to walk our readers through swarm season in Arizona. We’ll explore what swarms are, how they differ from conventional hives, and what we can do along the way to stay safe, happy, and healthy!
What Bees Live in Arizona?
Before we delve into the full might of bee season, it would behoove us to have a better understanding as to what we are looking at. Bees are as diverse an insect as any and Arizona provides plenty of room for them all to flourish. While most of our focus today will be on honey bees, particularly Africanized Honey Bees, the following buzzing insects should all be noted.
- Bumble Bees — An inch long, covered in hair, and distinctive for its black, orange, yellow and white bands. These bees pollinate, socialize, and live underground.
- Carpenter Bees — Another inch-long monster, Carpenter Bees are notable thanks to their shiny black stomach and large powerful jaws. Only females can sting.
- Honey Bees — Sitting at roughly 3/4 an inch, Honey Bees are known for having brownish-gold hair embedded with black stripes along their underside. Traditionally not a threat, honey bees can become dangerous when they attack in large swarms.
Among the most notable dangers during swarm season (March to April) are swarming Africanized honey bees. Let’s learn a bit more about these aggressive insects and what we can do to stay safe while around them.
Bee Swarm vs. Bee Colony: Understanding the Differences
When we first notice the appearance of buzzing bees on our property, it can be easy to fall into the trap of passive awareness. Bees are an indicator that spring is upon us, but as spring rolls fully into view that could transition into swarming season. Understanding the differences between a bee swarm and a bee colony can potentially save your life or even just a couple of painful stings.
What Is a Bee Hive?
When we are discussing honey bee swarming, we need to pay attention to both queens and colonies as there can only ever be one. In a functioning hive with a living Queen, the Queen Bee will rarely if ever leave the safety of its shelter. Most of the work is carried out by appropriately named worker bees with the Queen sitting safely deep within the comb. These worker bees supply the Queen with food as she focuses on laying many, many eggs.
Why Do Bees Swarm?
As colonies begin to overcrowd, the Queen will drop its production of pheromones, a message that doesn’t make it out to the rest of the colony. The queen is then taken care of by its worker bees until the excess Queen Cups hatch. By this point in time, the Queen Bee is notably skinny, allowing her to depart from the hive with a mass of bees known as a swarm. This swarm is led by the Queen as they hunt for a new place to call home.
The Africanized Honey Bee will swarm over and over again throughout a season, stopping at numerous places along the way. Identifying a bee swarm is incredibly important because it is the BEST way to avoid running into trouble.
How Can I Identify a Bee Swarm?
Identify a Bee Swarm by noting where and when you find masses of bees. When bees are traveling in swarms, they will often find points to rest on in groups. These exposed locations could be as simple as a nearby tree, an empty building, or even somewhere like an exterior wall to a home. Swarming bees are most notable for being out in the open while amassed in large groups.
How Can I Stay Safe From a Bee Swarm?
Swarming bees tend to offer less aggression than their hived and colonized counterparts. With that being said, if you run into a swarm of Africanized Honey Bees you should consider the following:
- Avoid — Avoid areas with large groups of potentially swarming bees.
- Disengage — If you run into swarming bees, turn tail and run.
- Cover Up — Keep your face covered and protected while you run to maintain safety.
- Find Shelter — Finally, put a door between yourself and the swarming bees as quickly as possible.
Prepare For Swarm Season With Buzz Tech Pest Control
With bee season right around the corner, it is the perfect time to call on Arizona’s favorite bee experts. The team at Buzz Tech Pest Control offers licensed and insured service within 90-minutes. Contact the team today to get an estimate!