WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba woman's front yard was buzzing with excitement when thousands of bees decided to make a pit stop in front of her home.

On Friday afternoon, Sally Guarino noticed something on the maple tree in the front yard of her Headingley, Man. home.

"I just walked out and noticed a kind of big black blob on the tree,” said Guarino. "I got a little closer, and I couldn't tell if they were bees or wasps, but I could hear the buzzing."

On closer inspection, she determined that it was a colony of honey bees in her tree.

Guarino called a friend whose brother is a beekeeper and got referred to the Red River Apiarists' Association.


When John Russell, the president of the Red River Apiarists' Association, got Guarino's phone call, he sprang into action and assembled a team of novice beekeepers.

"I'm actually training a crew to become comfortable at taking on recapturing swarms," said Russell.

Dubbed the "swarm patrol," the beekeeper team puts out a hive body, a box used for beekeeping, near the swarm for the bees to make a permanent home in. 

Once the swarm enters the hive, it is taken to somewhere more suitable, in this case, a canola field.

Guarino's tree is the sixth swarm the patrol has dealt with this year.

Russell said the swarming phenomenon happens when a colony becomes overcrowded. The colony will produce a new queen, and the old one will leave with a fair size population of bees.

While looking for a new permanent home, the swarm will temporarily stop in places like Guarino's maple tree.

While the swarm is stopped temporally the bees are docile, but once in the hive they are once again protective.


Russell said it's important to call a beekeeper if you see a swarm in your yard.

"On their own, [the bees] might choose someone's fence, or get into someone's attic or a place where it's not safe and there is a risk of them being exterminated."

According to Russell, wild bee colonies are facing a lot of difficulties right now.

"There are a lot of diseases and parasitic mites that will destroy over a season or two a wild honey bee colony."

With wild colonies diminishing, Russell said saving every swarm is imperative.

"They are important to our food security and our biodiversity," he said. "Please do not exterminate them; please call a local beekeeper or call the Red River Apiarists' Association and we'll take care of them.”

Russel noted there hasn't been much swarming activity this year because of a cool spring but is on the increase.