British Columbia

Vancouver Island nature sanctuary searches for its missing honeybee swarm

A nature sanctuary on Vancouver Island, looking for its missing honeybees, is asking for the community's help. 

Have you seen a bee swarm in trees on houses or on the ground? They're looking for a new home

A honeybee colony will swarm or gather in a large cluster and move if the hive gets too crowded. They will create a new queen, take half the colony and move on to a new location. (The Associated Press/USDA/Lance Cheung)

A nature sanctuary on Vancouver Island, looking for its missing honeybees, is asking for the community's help. 

Swan Lake Nature House in Saanich, located in the Greater Victoria area of B.C., circulated a poster on Monday asking for anyone who has found a honeybee swarm in their area to contact the sanctuary's beekeeper.

Alanna Morbin, the beekeeper, says the missing bees are a natural occurrence. 

The sanctuary hosts an observation hive for a colony of honeybees and their queen. During the spring, the honeybees tend to grow in population quickly. 

"We had hoped to split the hive to reduce their site, but they tended to swarm," Morbin told Megan Thomas, guest host of On the Island

The bees have left the sanctuary's hive. A honeybee colony will swarm, or gather in a large cluster and move, if the hive gets too crowded. They will create a new queen, take half the colony and move on to a new location.

"That's part of the natural cycle of honeybees. That's part of what beekeepers are always trying to stay ahead of," Morbin said. 

When honeybees swarm, they're very docile because they don't have a hive to protect. They're just interested in protecting the queen and finding a new home. (Bruce Richardson)

How to spot a swarm

When honeybees swarm, they will move into a tree or a location close by until they scout out a new home. That could take anywhere from an hour to a day. 

"So that gives a small window of time for a beekeeper to capture and house that hive before they move into, probably, the hollow of a tree or somewhere, likely in Swan Lake," Morbin said.

Those that pass a swarm will hear a loud hum in the air.

"It looks like sort of a tornado of bees."

Morbin says if residents notice a swarm in their area, they should call the local bee club, the Capital Region Beekeepers Association and report the sighting. 

The sanctuary has volunteers that will help homeowners or businesses relocate the hives off the property.

"We make sure that they get into a more proper home or, if we can, we'll return them to the beekeepers."

No danger

When honeybees swarm, they're very docile because they don't have a hive to protect, says Morbin. They're just interested in protecting the queen and finding a new home.

"When you see a swarm you don't want to go up close to it ... but you can definitely stand and observe the phenomenon of nature."

Listen to the full interview here:

When you think about creatures at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary, it's probably birds that come to mind. But this week, the sanctuary is looking for its missing honeybees. A poster was circulated yesterday, asking anyone in the area who has found a honeybee swarm to please contact the beekeeper. 7:12

With files by On the Island.

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