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Report a Swarm in San Francisco

Have you run across a “swarm” of honeybees — meaning, literally, a cloud of bees flying madly around, often with a ball of other bees hanging from a nearby tree, bush or wall? If so, don’t panic. The SF Beekeepers offers a free swarm referral line at (415) 99-SWARM  or (415) 997-9276 that will bring an experienced beekeeper who can collect and resettle the bees.

Bees in a swarm are acting that way that because they have just moved out of their former hive and are looking for a new place to settle. Typically, they are neither threatening nor aggressive. Instead, they have recently gorged themselves on food and are so busy searching for a new home that they will probably pay you little attention.

This does not mean that you should approach or disturb the bees! Leave that to an expert. But call us as soon as possible, please. If the swarm is not resettled, it will eventually move into a new location — which could be in someone’s house or yard where the bees become a nuisance. Our beekeepers will instead try to capture the swarm and move the bees to a hive where they can prosper.

One note: our volunteers are not exterminators; they aim to save the bees, not kill them. Our volunteers also do not typically work with pest insects like yellow jackets, wasps, hornets, and carpenter bees, which are often mistaken for honeybees. Click here for more about how to tell a yellow jacket from a honeybee.

So if you do encounter a swarm, please report it to the SFBA swarm referral line at (415) 99-SWARM or (415) 997-9276 as soon as possible. Or, if you have encountered a swarm in some other Bay Area city, get in touch with one these organizations, all of which also refer swarm catchers:

Important: The San Francisco Beekeepers Association provides this referral line free as a service to the public. However, we are neither an oversight nor a certification organization for swarm collectors. The beekeepers we refer you to often will remove swarms for free. But in difficult situations, such as when bees have moved into a wall or are high on a roof or tree, the swarm collector may ask for payment before removing the bees. If you do hire the person under such circumstances, you engaging him/her as an individual, not as an agent of the San Francisco Beekeepers Association. Problems are rare, but if one occurs, it is a matter between you and the swarm collector. SFBA definitely welcomes your feedback but can’t guarantee to be able to mediate a situation.

For more information on swarms, click here.

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