Report a Swarm - Sonoma County Regions

Photo by Ettamarie Peterson

To Ensure the Safety of Yourself and the Bees,
Report Your Swarm as Soon as Possible

 

HOW TO USE THE LISTINGS BELOW

Locate a beekeeper by clicking on the region closest to the swarm location. It may take a couple of calls to get a hold of someone. Keep calling until you speak with a beekeeper. All beekeepers on this list are volunteers and provide this service free of charge.

EXTRACTIONS (Structural Bee Removal)

If the honeybees are in a wall or structure, look for a beekeeper who does structural bee removal.
Go to this link for a list of private/independent beekeepers who provide this service.

CLICK HERE

What To Do If You See A Swarm – SAVE THE BEES! 

If you have sighted a swarm of honey bees, or have bees in your house or other structure, please read the following information before calling a beekeeper on the list.

  • PLEASE DO NOT SPRAY THE BEES WITH ANYTHING. Especially insecticides, but do not even spray them with water. This is endangering the bees, yourself and the beekeeper.
  • Ensure you are dealing with honey bees and not another beneficial insect (please see our photo gallery below).
  • Provide the exact location and address of the swarm (including cross street).  Also, how high up is it? How big is it (softball, basketball, larger? How long has the swarm been there? Are there hazards nearby like electrical wires etc.? Also be ready to provide a contact name and phone number.
  • Please do not ask a beekeeper to take care of a yellow jacket problem – unless specifically licensed for pest control. Most beekeepers cannot legally address pest issues. Please contact a licensed pest control operation or Marin-Sonoma County Vector Control (if the nests are in the ground).
  • If the swarm is not on your property, but in a neighbor’s yard, please provide contact details for the property owner – we can’t enter someone else’s property without permission. The property owner or tenant should call a beekeeper.
  • If the swarm is in a yard, please provide access information (how close can a vehicle be brought, how steep is the terrain?).
  • If the swarm is high off the ground, if you have access to a reliable ladder which can be used by the beekeeper, please make the beekeeper aware of this.
  • If you have digital photos of the swarm or structurally inhabiting colony (and the surrounding area), please advise the beekeeper of this. While honey bee swarms are generally docile, you should avoid putting yourself at potential risk to take photographs or get a closer look at the bees beyond basic identification.
  • Not all beekeepers perform structural extractions – if the bees are inside a wall or attic, this is not a swarm, but rather an established colony of bees. In this case, you need to contact a beekeeper who indicates that they handle structural extractions.

What is a Swarm?

  • Honey bee swarms are one of the most beautiful and interesting phenomena in nature.  A swarm may contain from 1,500 to 30,000 bees, including workers, drones, and a queen. Swarming is an instinctive part of the annual life cycle of a honey bee colony. It provides a mechanism for the colony to reproduce itself.
  • The tendency to swarm is usually greatest when bees increase their population rapidly in late spring and early summer.
  • Honeybee swarms are not dangerous. A honey bee swarm has neither young nor food stores and will not exhibit defensive behavior unless unduly provoked.
  • By calling a beekeeper to come and collect a swarm, you are helping the bees find a safe home.

Other Types of Bees

Bumble Bees are beneficial insects. They do not live in colonies of large numbers, so you won't encounter a cluster of many of them at time. They are significantly larger than honey bees, are black and fuzzy, with one or two yellow bands.

Carpenter Bees They bore approx 1/2" diameter holes into wood (such as decks and siding), and live inside these holes. Like bumblebees, they do not live in large numbers. They appear like a hairless version of a bumblebee, without yellow bands.

Paper Wasps, sometimes called "Umbrella Wasps" live in paper nests, with the openings of the cells facing downwards. They rarely have cause to sting people, and are considered a beneficial insect - among other things, they eat spiders. Mud Dauber Wasps look similar, but live in mud cakes often found in rafters of outbuildings and on the eves of houses. Click on the image for an enlargement.

Yellow Jackets often live in the ground. These are the pests that come around when you're eating outdoors, or which are found around open trashbins. Their stings can cause a bacteriological infection as a result of their scavenging nature..

Hornets appear similar to large yellow jackets, can be very ornery, and live in large, usually greyish paper nests, which are unfortunatley often typified as beehives in popular children's publications such as Winnie the Pooh. Do not interfere with their nests - seek professional removal.

The Sonoma County Beekeepers' Association (SCBA) publishes and distributes this swarm contact list as a service to the public. We are neither an oversight or certification organization for beekeepers. If you engage the services of anyone on the list, you need to be aware that you are engaging the services of that beekeeper as an individual - you are not hiring them as an agent of SCBA. Problems are rare, but if you should have one, it is a matter between you and the individual that you engaged to handle your bee situation.