“Don’t kill the bees”- a beekeeper’s plea to Lehi residents
One of nature’s phenomenon- bees swarming to find a new home- starts this time of year. A local beekeeper aims to help save bees from destruction due to the public’s misinformation.
Steve Boyack has been a beekeeper for four years and wants to make sure people understand these seemingly intimidating swarms of bees are harmless. “Bees are of little to no danger to you when they’re swarming,” Boyack explained. “This is a natural migration; they’re just trying to find a new home,” Boyack posted on the Lehi Link community Facebook page to educate the community. “This is the time of year we’ll be seeing the most swarms,” he said.
When a colony of bees starts to grow rapidly in the spring, space in the hive can become crowded. Once this happens, the queen bee and around half of the bees in the colony take off to find a new home. The queen leaves eggs with the current hive so they can grow a new queen- and flies away. The queen can’t fly very far, and the bees that follow her swarm for her protection. When you see a swarm of bees on a fence, tree, or on your home, they are waiting for the scout bees to come back with their final location. This swarm is temporary. Some of these swarms will only stay for a few hours at that location, while others might stay a day or two.
“They are less aggressive and are just looking for a new home,” Boyack said. Because the bees fill up on honey before their trip, it is physically harder for them to sting, even if they wanted to. Bottom line? While these bees may look menacing- they just need some space. Boyack said some people have sprayed these swarms with water or tried to knock them down, killing the queen. “When the queen dies in this situation, all those bees with her will also die- bees can’t live without their queen,” he said.
Even pest control companies call beekeepers to safely remove the hives and relocate them to a new home. Many people confuse bees with wasps and hornets, and Boyack said pest control professionals or a local beekeeper can help identify the swarm. Wasps and hornets should be handled by pest control. “People often get stung and think it was a bee when it was really a wasp or hornet,” Boyack explained. “Bees rarely sting unless you sit or step on them. Wasps and hornets, on the other hand, …seem to sting for the pure joy of it.”
Bees are an important part of the ecosystem. Boyack explained why people should care about the wellbeing of the honey bee, “all the food we grow needs to be pollinated and bees do the majority of pollination.”
Boyack keeps his beehives in his backyard and said his neighbors love it because they notice a difference in their gardens and flower beds. “More bees mean more pollination which means a better yield for their gardens and flowers,” he said.
For those interested in beekeeping, Boyack said there are classes and different ways to get training. While it’s too late in the season this year, those interested can get trained and get their equipment ready around February each year.
If you see a swarm, text Boyack and he will arrange a safe removal. His phone number is 801-899-5260.