TxAPBR > Public Info > Swarm vs Colony

Is this a Swarm or a Colony?

If you came to this page, you probably have honey bees on your property in a location that is undesirable to you.  In order to help you select the right person to remove honey bees, we first need to determine what kind of bee problem you have because not everyone can handle all types of bee removals.  Generally speaking, these will fall into 2 distinct categories:

    • Honey Bee Colonies
    • Honey Bee Swarms

Fortunately, it is pretty easy to distinguish between the two. 

A COLONY is usually located INSIDE of a structure such as a wall, roof, tree, etc.  The key component of a honey bee colony is the presence of Honey Comb – this is where the bees will store their honey & pollen (their food) as well as where the queen will lay eggs and raise brood (baby bees).  A colony of bees can reside in a location for many years.  Honey bees in colonies can be defensive; it is their home.  Removing a colony takes specialized skills & tools (and usually things like insurance). For this reason, most colonies need to be removed by a professional, who usually charges for their services. 

A SWARM is how honey bees reproduce their colonies.  Without getting into too much detail, the queen and approximately 1/2 of the worker bees leave a colony and seek out a new location in which they can establish a new home.  When this mass exodus occurs, the bees will congregate in a big ball (on a tree branch, wall, car, … pretty much anything) while workers scout out a new location.  Swarms are general quite docile (despite the noise they can make while flying); they are not guarding food resources nor brood. Usually (but not always), swarms can be collected without special skills or tools by the average beekeeper; as a result, the charge for removal is usually fairly minimal.

Now that you understand what kind of problem you have, we can help you find the right person to take care of your problem.  The general rule of thumb is that removing a  requires specialized skills & tools (ie. a professional remover) while relocating a swarm is something that most beekeepers can handle.

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