HAMILTON — A swarm of bees recently caused a bit of a stir on Hamilton’s Main Street, until a beekeeper arrived to box them up and take them home.
Corvallis roofer Jake Poellot was working at about 10 a.m. Tuesday when he and a co-worker spotted the bees rapidly approaching them. The men notified the nearby Daly Leach Chapel that the bees had landed in a tree behind their sign.
Beekeeper Gale Dodd and his son, Ben, soon arrived. Dodd cut a bee-covered branch from the tree and put it in a box. The rest of the bees followed.
Dodd said he’d use the estimated 50,000 to 100,000 bees to start a new colony.
Bees swarm this time of year as parts of a colony separate to form a new hive, state agricultural officials said.
Swarming bees alight in a temporary location with their “scout bees” search for a more permanent home.
“A swarm is bees at their most harmless,” said Cam Lay, state entomologist with the Department of Agriculture. “Bees sting only in defense of the hive, to protect their home and children, if you will. A swarm has no brood and no home, so they have no reason to sting you.”
But she acknowledges a swarm can be intimidating.
“All of a sudden you’ve got 10,000 bees sitting on your fence, or on the side of the house. They buzz, and they fly around, and that’s outside the experience of most people,” she said.
But for beekeepers, they’re a welcome sight.
A swarm of bees is a good start to a new colony, said Ian Foley, entomology program manager.
The Montana Department of Agriculture maintains a statewide list of beekeepers who are interested in being contacted to recover swarms.