Swarm calls keep local beekeepers busy

SAN MARCOS – Thousands of bees swarmed a San Marcos neighborhood Monday and similar swarms were also reported in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach over the weekend.

The North County swarm brought Brother Blaise of the Prince of Peace Abbey of Oceanside to a tree in the 1400 block of Horizon Court Monday afternoon.

“Starting March the 1st, I usually get about 25 calls a day,” said Brother Blaise, a monk who has been collecting bees for 40 years.Bee hive, catcher

“This is the time of year when bees start to swarm more frequently,” said Geoff Kipps-Bolton of San Diego Bees.

Kipps-Bolton said San Diegans will start to see more bees swarms around the county.  April to June is high bee season.

“This is when bees are on the move,” said Kipps-Bolton.  “A hive is really one individual, all those bees can’t survive on their own so they have to survive as a whole group.”

Once a queen bee leaves the hive, she brings up to 10-12,000 worker bees with her.

If you find swarm, the point is don’t panic.  Bees are least dangerous at this state.

“The stinging response is to protect the hive and a swarm has no hive and they’re really very focused on finding their new location,” said Kipps-Bolton.

San Marcos Bee HiveKipps-Bolton also said despite various reports, Africanized bees are not prevalent in San Diego.

“Several reports say 80 percent of the bees are Africanized.  That’s simply not true,” said Kipps-Bolton. “The number of Africanized bees is actually very small, far less than we anticipated.”

Kipps-Bolton also said if swarms are found, do not call the fire department.

“Always call a bee removal company.  Simply because they can take these bees alive,” said Kipps-Bolton.

That’s exactly the goal of Brother Blaise.  He said colonies like the ones found in San Marcos are becoming more rare.

“Ten years ago, they put up cell phone towers and the bees died,” said Blaise.  “I’ve got about 40 hives going now, I used to have 100.”

The monk has even tested his theory.

“About a year ago, I decided to take my cell phone and walk around to where I didn’t get a good reception.  That’s where I moved my bees and now my bees are doing wonderful,” said Blaise.

Now, the San Marcos colony is headed to the abbey, where they’ll help repopulate Blaise’s collection.