By: Shannon Trimboli
Believe it or not we already have four swarms reported from the survey we started last week. Those swarms were in Trigg, Russell, McLean, and Harrison. Even though the first swarms have already been reported in those counties, if you see or hear a reliable report of a swarm in those counties then go ahead and report it if it is your first swarm in that county. That way we can also watch as swarm season ramps up in each county.
In anticipation for swarm season, I recently added a page about swarm removal to the website. It is featured on the front page and I’ll leave it on the front page at least through May. That way anyone who goes to the KSBA website will be able to easily find out what to do if they find a swarm.
Press releases are one way to remind the community of who they can contact if they find a swarm. So I also created a modified version of the swarm page which can be used as a local press release. If someone in your organization has already written a press release – great! Use it. However, the one below can serve as a model for those who are less sure about how to write a press release. Please make sure you read the “Important information” section below before using the sample press release.
Important information about the press release:
- If your county has a local beekeeping organization, then work together as a club to submit the press release. Having 10 different beekeepers submit the same release to the same newspapers isn’t going to be helpful.
- Be sure to replace the red text with the appropriate information. The contact person at the top of the page is especially important because this is the person that will be contacted if the newspaper or other media source wants more information to write their story.
- If you know someone at the local newspaper, radio station, or television station, then contact them and get their advice on who would be the best person to send the press release to. If you don’t have an inside contact, then the editor or news director are usually good choices.
- Feel free to customize the press release by including contact info for your county extension office instead of referring the reader to the UK Extension website or by replacing John Benham quote’s with quotes from someone in your local organization. However, if you are replacing the quotes, make sure you use your own quotes. Don’t just borrow John’s quotes.
- If you have a good picture of a swarm or a swarm capture, then attach it to the email with your press release. Be sure to attach the picture as a file instead of embedding the picture in the body of the email. Also, space down below the ### at the end of the press release and type “Figure caption:” and then a short caption for your picture including a photo credit. (And yes, the ### is important. It signifies the end of the press release text.)
Model press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: ______________ (xxx-xxx-xxxx)
Local Beekeepers Will Collect Swarms
Typically April is the start of swarm season for honey bees; however, our warm winter may result in an early start to the swarm season. Swarm season can be a dangerous time for honey bees because some people may become frightened by the swarm and try to destroy it. Honey bees in a swarm are not aggressive and local beekeepers will remove swarms for free.
“When a swarm arrives people will see a cloud of bees. The bees will circle and collect into a cluster that looks like a beard,” said John Benham, past president of the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association.
“They will remain in the cluster until their scout bees have found a new location for them to start a new hive. This usually takes from a couple of hours to a day or two. While in the cluster, the bees are not aggressive. All they are interested in is waiting for the scout bees to find their new home. Once the scout bees find the location for their new hive, the swarm will move on.”
Swarms occur when the queen leaves the original hive with approximately half of the bees to find a new home. The swarm may land on and form its beard-like cluster on trees, bushes, fence posts, swing sets, and many other locations.
“If you find a swarm, call your local UK Extension Office. They have a list of local beekeepers who are willing to remove swarms for free. The beekeepers will collect the swarm and remove it from your property,” said Benham.
Contact information for your local Extension Office can be found at http://extension.ca.uky.edu/county. If the Extension Office is closed then _____________ (xxx-xxx-xxxx), _____________ (xxx-xxx-xxxx), and _____________ (xxx-xxx-xxxx) are local beekeepers who you can contact directly. They will either collect the swarm for you or put you in contact with another local beekeeper who can.
Hives that have already established themselves in a building take more specialized skills and equipment to remove. Often a licensed and insured professional removal specialist will need to be called to remove those bees. It is common for these specialists to charge for their services because of the added expenses of licenses, insurance, and equipment.
Honey bees play an important role in agriculture, but their populations are declining. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bee Informed Partnership, beekeepers across the country reported an annual hive loss of approximately 44% from April 2015 to March 2016. Allowing a local beekeeper to collect any swarms you find helps both the honey bees and local beekeepers.
Local beekeeping organizations offer opportunities for anyone interested to learn about honey bees and beekeeping. A list of local beekeeping organizations in Kentucky can be found at http://www.ksbabeekeeping.org/local-beekeeping-organizations/.
The Kentucky State Beekeepers Association (KSBA) is a volunteer-led, non-profit organization dedicated to beekeeping in Kentucky. KSBA represents Kentucky’s backyard, hobby, and commercial beekeepers and local beekeeping associations.