What Time of Day do Bees Swarm? (The Truth Uncovered)

what time of day do bees swarm

When honey bees swarm, they say “whoopee”!

Swarming is a bee colony’s idea of success. It’s a sign of a prosperous population and strong growth. There are so many bees that the hive now needs to divide in two.

You might even congratulate yourself as a beekeeper on your flourishing colony 🙂

But losing a swarm of bees is unfortunate. After all… You don’t want to lose all those wonderful honey-producing bees!

This is why beekeepers need all the clues they can get to help anticipate swarms. And take measures to keep their bees.

Understanding what time bees swarm is a valuable bit of knowledge.

The same goes for other moments when they might fancy doing a disappearing act.

Keep reading to find out more…

What time of day do bees swarm 

The most common time of day for swarms tends to be between mid-morning and mid-afternoon. But weather conditions can also affect this time because swarming usually happens in the warmer hours of the day. 

Morning is probably more likely than the afternoon if you want to further refine this timing. (Anecdotal reports suggest that beekeepers are often called about swarms in the morning than in the afternoon!)

But I’ve heard of bees swarming at different times outside of this range. For example, secondary swarms can still occur in the late afternoon.

When do bees usually swarm 

Time of day may not be the most reliable indicator.

Remember that prevailing weather conditions and temperature might be a better way of judging when bees decide to swarm.

Studies have shown that a bee’s ability to fly peaks at around 77°F (25°C). Higher and lower temperatures limit their flight performance. And if the temperature drops below 59°F (15°C), the bees’ flight range is often reduced to distances under 300 feet (about 100m).

So cool weather isn’t favored by swarmy bees.

Be careful not to mistake bearding for swarming. If weather conditions are hot, the bees will “hang out” near the hive to reduce the numbers inside and help lower the hive’s temperature.

Depending on where you are and your local climate, bee swarms can happen within a wide range of times. 

Maybe don’t try sitting outside your hives waiting for it to happen 🙂

How long does a bee swarm last? 

After swarming, bees gather nearby for several hours to a few days. After that, it depends on how long it takes for scout bees to find an acceptable new location for the colony. 

Emerging bees like this have gorged themselves on honey before leaving the hive because they need to take some resources with them. But this will not last forever, so bees would prefer to find a suitable new location sooner rather than later.

Do bees swarm before a storm?

Stormy weather and hot sultry conditions can sometimes be a precursor to swarming. I’ve heard of many beekeepers experiencing swarms when temperature and humidity rise, and the colony swarms before it rains.

Perhaps the “calm before the storm” when it’s not windy is also a favorable event.

Do bees swarm in the rain?

I’ve never heard of bees swarming in the rain. Rain is not something bees tend to enjoy (who can blame them). Flying conditions are often more complicated when it’s rainy.

If it’s cloudy and rainy, you can relax… You probably won’t get a swarm today!

Do bees swarm every year?

Bees do not necessarily swarm every year. For example, if the queen is young, especially in her first year of laying, the colony is unlikely to swarm.

Do bees swarm at night?

A swarm of bees at night is very unlikely. Honey bees are diurnal, meaning they only actively forage during daylight. 

Most bees can’t fly at night. They can crawl! But that probably isn’t very efficient for collecting nectar!

What time of year do bees swarm?

what time of the year do bees swarm

The most common period of the year that bee colonies swarm is from late spring to mid-summer. The months of May, June, and July are the most usual. At this time, the weather is warm enough for mating flights.

Beekeepers have a proverbial saying about swarming dating back to the 17th century. Actually, it’s more of a rhyme…

It goes something like this:

“A swarm of bees in May 

is worth a load of hay; 

a swarm of bees in June 

is worth a silver spoon; 

but a swarm of bees in July 

is not worth a fly!”

The logic to this little proverb is that early swarms are more profitable to the beekeeper than a swarm late in the season. There is still enough forage and nectar for the bees to make you a good load of honey in May and most of June. But in July, it’s probably too late.

A late swarm may also be unfavorable for the new colony. A swarm has low food reserves and has to build up from scratch. So if this happens late in the season when forage starts to run short, the new colony could suffer. 

Feeding the emerged bees is a good idea if you catch or recover a swarm, especially if this happens later in the year.

Therefore the most typical swarm season is from May to July.

Of course, the key is swarm prediction, prevention, and control. If you read the signs correctly, a good beekeeper will lose less bees. 

So what’s the possibility of swarming another season?

Do bees swarm in the spring?

Spring is a perfect time for honey bees to choose to swarm. Although this is more likely to happen toward the end of spring. This means colonies have had time to increase their numbers.

One of the principal reasons bees swarm is overcrowding in the hive. To achieve these conditions, the bee population has to grow significantly.

Your local climate and seasonal weather will have a significant impact on this. For example, suppose you’re having an early flowering season and bees start to get active. In that case, swarms may happen earlier than usual.

Do bees swarm in the fall?

Swarms in the fall are still quite common events. So even though this isn’t the typical “swarm season,” you’ll find many beekeepers who’ve had this happen.

Nevertheless, this isn’t the most opportune moment for them to break away!

The chances of colony survival are reduced at this time of year. After all, they need to build up new nectar, and pollen stores, which is difficult as the fall turns into winter and flowering plants disappear.

As a rule, the earlier it happens in the year, the better.

Do bees swarm in the winter?

Winter is the least likely time of the year to see swarming behavior in bees. During this season, bee populations have dropped significantly, and there are no drone bees for mating. The remnant colony needs to produce a new queen, and she needs to mate for the colony to survive.

The overall colony’s situation isn’t set up for swarming.

Conclusion: When do honey bees swarm?

If you were, to sum up, the most favorable time for bees to “decide” to swarm, then given all the average conditions, I would say it is this:

Bees tend to swarm on nice, calm, warm sunny days, from mid-morning to early afternoon, and between May and July.

But remember… There are plenty of exceptions to the rule 🙂

Wanna be a beekeeper but not sure where to start?

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