Honeybees are social insects with a complex social structure. They tend to use the same hive year after year, with the colony growing all of the time. Periodically, a portion of the colony “buds” off to start a new colony. Gathering up a portion of the pollen and honey from the mother colony, these bees “swarm” from the hive, in search of a location to start a new hive.
This swarm includes a queen bee that will be the mother of the new colony. The queen will periodically stop to rest, and will immediately be covered with swarming bees. As she rests, scout bees will look for a suitable location for the new hive. If they do not find a new home, the swarm will move on. If a scout bee does find a good location, it will return to the swarm to recruit the other bees.
If their house hunt is successful, the bees will move to the new location and enter within a matter of minutes, setting up housekeeping. During the swarming process, the bees do not have an active hive to protect and are not very aggressive. Since Honeybees are beneficial insects, and the swarm will move on shortly, the swarms should be left alone.
Honeybees seek out new homes in small openings that serve as entrances to voids suitable to constructing honeycombs. A good example would be an overturned flowerpot. Wall voids, attic spaces, crawl spaces, abandoned appliances and equipment, unused vehicles, abandoned sheds and even large children’s toys all can become sites for a new beehive. The best form of bee control is prevention, eliminating potential hive sites or sealing up openings that might allow access to these sites.