Warm Winter May Increase Mass. Bee Swarms

Swarms are basically bees on the move. They cluster around trees, homes, cars, and even soccer nets

Just a few days ago, a woman's home in Westford, Massachusetts, was under siege.

"She said, ‘I've got bees on my house, they're right underneath the roof,’" recalled Alexandra Bartsch.

But those thousands of swarming bees, weighing some five pounds combined, were no match for Bartsch.

She's been a bee keeper since the 1970s and is the Swarm Coordinator in Middlesex County.

"We've had quite a few swarms this spring," she said.

The uptick in activity this year is likely due to the warm winter. Peak season is May and June.

"Swarms look more chaotic than they are," she said with a smile.

Swarms are basically bees on the move. They cluster around trees, homes, cars, and even soccer nets. Bartsch recently responded to a soccer net call in Framingham, just hours before a tournament was set to get underway.

The primary group goal of the bees is to find a new home.

"The scout bees go out and report back, and they dance to tell the other bees they've found a good place to live," Bartsch explained.

Since they have no home to defend while swarming, Bartsch can remove the bees with little protection, just a veil for her face, a broom, and a bucket.

"You can literally put your hand right into the middle of the swarm and not get stung, they're very friendly and gentle when they're swarming," she said confidently.

From her bucket Bartsch moves the bees to mobile hives, before relocating them permanently to a garden in Lexington.

"There's about 40,000 bees in each of these hives," she said while showing off the garden.

It's a mutually beneficially relationship.

The garden gets extra pollinators, and a doubling of produce output as a result, while the bees get protection.

"Bees in nature do not ordinarily survive, so if that swarm flies away without being captured by a bee keeper it has a very low chance of survival," she said.

To report a swarm to Bartsch for removal in Middlesex County, click the link.

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