Cloud of bees swarm home in Valleycliffe | Squamish Chief

Cloud of bees swarm home in Valleycliffe

Honeybees are gentle during this dramatic process, says beekeeper

It was a rare sight for many in Valleycliffe Sunday when bees swarmed a home in the neighbourhood.

Squamish’s Benjamin Roy captured the phenomenon in a photo.

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“Not your average morning,” he noted to The Chief in an email.

Michalina Hunter, president of the Sea to Sky Beekeepers Club, says honeybees swarm as their means of reproduction.

“In the springtime, the population of the hive expands. When the colony gets to a certain size, the worker bees will start to raise new queens. While those queens are developing, the old queen and half the bees in the hive will fly outside and land somewhere, usually in a nearby tree, on a sunny day. From there, a few of the workers become scouts, and will fly away from the swarm cluster looking for suitable new homes,” she said. “When they return to the cluster, the scouts will dance to indicate the location of the potential new home. Other bees watch this dance and fly out to inspect the new potential homes.... Eventually, through a democratic process of scouting and dancing, the bees will decide on a new place to move into, and they will all fly there.”

The swarm can also be rescued by a beekeeper and put into a new hive.

The bees are very gentle during this process, Hunter says because they don’t have any honey stores or babies to protect.

“You can stick your hand right in the cluster, and you won’t get stung. I once caught a swarm in my bathing suit — no joke,” she said.

If you see a swarm around a home, it is best to contact beekeepers right away.

The Sea to Sky Beekeepers Club can be found at www.seatoskybeekeepers.ca/ or on Facebook.

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