You have spotted a swarm! What do you do?
The Sonoma County Beekeepers Association has a team of trained beekeepers ready to assist in the removal and relocation of swarms in Sonoma County to a safe home in one of our apiaries. Wondering more about swarms? Check out our Honey Bee Biology page for more information.
Please follow these three easy steps for reporting a swarm:
Step One: Assessment
You've spotted a swarm of honey bees! That is amazing! Not everyone gets the opportunity to witness a swarm. DO NOT PANIC! Bees are generally very gentle and docile when they swarm.
DO NOT attempt to move the bees.
DO NOT spray the bees with anything, even water. We do not want to agitate them or give them a reason to move on.
DO calmly assess the situation for the safety of yourself, any others nearby, and the swarm. In specific:
- WHAT DO YOU SEE? Make sure that what you see are honey bees, not wasps or yellow jackets. Our beekeepers cannot legally address issues related to wasps, yellow jackets, or hornets. Should you have an issue with these, please contact a licensed pest control operation or (if the nest is in the ground) Marin Sonoma County Vector Control at 1-800-231-3236.
- Where are the bees? You need to make sure that what you see is not a colony located inside a structure, such as a wall or attic. This is an established colony, not a swarm. For removal of an established colony contact a beekeeper equipped to handle a "structural extraction."
If neither of these is the case, proceed.
To ensure the beekeeper can accurately and safely address the swarm, please collect the following information and have it ready when you call:
- Who are you and how can we reach you?
- What is the exact location of the swarm (including cross street)? Or is the swarm on the move?
- How high off the ground is it? Is the swarm very high off the ground, and do you have access to a reliable ladder of adequate height?
- How big is it (softball, basketball, larger)?
- How long has it been there?
- Are there any hazards nearby like electrical wires, uneven ground, etc?
- Can a car be parked close by? Is there a driveway or gate, a steep hill? How far will the beekeeper have to walk to get to the swarm?
- Is the swarm on your property? If not, please provide contact information for the property owner as our beekeepers cannot enter someone's property without permission.
- Please take multiple photos showing the swarm in context of its surroundings.
Locate the region of the swarm below, select a beekeeper and contact them. If you do not succeed, try a different person. All beekeepers on this list are trained volunteers, offering their time free of charge, and will try their best to safely and securely remove the swarm from the site and provide the colony with a happy home in their apiaries.
North County: Healdsburg, Windsor, Cloverdale, Geyserville areas.
South County: Penngrove and Petaluma areas.
Central County: Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati areas.
The Sonoma County Beekeepers Association publishes and distributes these swarm contact lists as an educational service to the public. While we do our best to train and vet those on these lists, we are neither an oversight nor certification organization for beekeepers. Though problems are very rare, members of the public engage individual beekeepers on this list on their own accord.
Other Regional Swarm Lists
Alameda: Alameda County Beekeeper Association
Marin: Marin County Beekeepers
Monterey: Monterey Bay Beekeepers (ABC)
San Francisco: San Francisco Beekeepers Association
San Mateo: Beekeepers’ Guild of San Mateo County
Santa Clara: Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild
Santa Clara: The Gilroy Beekeepers
Santa Cruz: Santa Cruz Beekeepers Guild
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Sonoma County Beekeepers Association is a 501 C-3 non-profit EIN# 68-0193325