Alot of older people have seen the 70's disaster movie. Attack of the Killer Bees. Whenever, I speak about the honeybees, this is one of the first things that I get...Don't you get stung, aren't they mean, won't they attack you? It really is interesting the questions I get and the education I can give.
Bees are really defensive creatures. They sting when I go to their home and open it, pull out the bee frames, disturb the bees, disturb their food source and their babies. I think all of us out there would do the same. When I am working my hives, I work gently and quickly and try not to disrupt their homes too much.
During the spring, the bees build up to try to take advantage of the weather and bring all the nectar and pollen into the hive. At some point when this is a good year the honeybees decide to reproduce and leave the hive. The idea is that they will leave early enough to build a new nest and get through the winter. If they are successful then there will be two bee hives not just one. The chance of success is around 25%. So, then why do they do this? because this is how they will have 2 nests instead of one. All of nature reproduces and tries to continue the species. Swarming is how they increase their numbers. Interesting it is the hive that makes the decision to swarm. There are many factors involved in the decision, but overall the queen has very little to do with the decision.
If you check out You Tube you can see a variety of swarms and swarm behavoir. It is incredible. The honeybees leave en masse to find a new home, but do so in a very circular fashion. It is awe inspiring to watch thousands of insects all moving to one location in their own coordinated dance. They are not attacking, and rarely is anyone ever stung handling a swarm.
If you see a bundle of bees hanging off of a branch go to the Georgia Beekeepers association's website and look for a local club. There are many members that will come and get simple swarms for free. If the swarm is located in a building then you will want a professional and pay to have them picked up. Again, you can get more information from the GBA website.
What can you do to help honeybees? Plant Wildflowers!!