Bee swarm season is here, but experts say, ‘Don’t kill them’

COOPERSVILLE, Mich. - Honey bee swarm season has begun for West Michigan, and even though they can be a nuisance for homeowners local bee keepers are asking you to call them before you decide to exterminate them.

In 2006, Colony Collapse Disorder put a big dent in the Honey Bee population, where bees started disappearing from their hives due to parasites. Their decline damaged local agriculture and even hurt the world economy.

However, the species has made a comeback thanks to local bee keepers, and they're now asking for your help.

"Right now it’s normal for Honey Bee colonies to build up really rapidly, and once they’re over populous in their hive, they’ll swarm," said Jontahan Engelsma, a professor at Grand Valley State University by day and a bee keeper by trade.

Swarming is a natural phenomenon where Honey Bees become heavily populated and leave the hive in search of a new home. Unfortunately, they'll swarm in suburban neighborhood homes and green spaces, causing a nuisance until they find a permanent place to live.

Englesma is encouraging people to call a local bee keeper to save them instead of killing them.

"People seem to be afraid of Honey Bees, when they're actually very docile and gentle," said Englesma. "Just 'Google' a local bee keeper and give them a call, they'll be happy to come out and collect them."

Bee keeping is a very demanding and high risk form of agriculture with a big pay off. Not only do they make honey, more importantly, they're the reason we have crops like almonds, blueberries, and apples.

"Experts say a third of what we eat is dependent on Honey Bees for pollination," Englesma said. "The numbers are in the billions if you add up the values of these different crops that rely on the Honey Bee."

He went on to explain that pesticides, parasites, and people are the top three reasons why Honey Bees have declined over the past decade. Now reminding West Michigan to do their part and help save the Honey Bees.

"Bees are great, they're important and we need them," Englesma said. "If you see a swarm, don't panic and call your local bee keeper."

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