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Bee Swarms Increase as Summer Approaches, Local Beekeepers Help to Remove Safely

Bee Swarm
Photo courtesy of MT Dept. of Agriculture

Bee swarms are a natural process and good for bee health, and with summer right around the corner, these swarms are looking for new homes. Entomologist Ian Foley with the Department of Agriculture said the best way to get rid of these football-sized clusters of bees is to call local beekeepers.

“Bee colonies reproduce by swarming so it’s how they make new bees,” Foley said. “In the spring time, the colony divides in half, creates a new queen, and she takes off and starts a new colony. Bees in Montana are relatively difficult to find. So, if somebody sees a bee swarm, they can go to the Department of Agriculture’s website and try and contact a local beekeeper that would be happy to come and pick up the free bees from them.”

In 2013, Montana ranked #2 in honey production, and in comparison to other states, Foley said Montana has a very healthy multimillion dollar beekeeping industry.

“We’re a significant national honey producer and a provider of the highest for pollination services,” Foley said. “We’ve got about 165,000 honey bee colonies in Montana in the summer time. A lot of those over winter in California where they provide pollination services for almonds, the Montana beekeepers are a significant part of that billion dollar pollination industry in U.S. agriculture.”

Many commercial beekeepers will collect swarms at no charge, and the Department of Agriculture maintains a statewide list of beekeepers who are interested in being contacted. Those interested can contact the Apiary Program at the Montana Department of Agriculture at 406-444-3144.

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