Do not panic. Swarming bees are at their most docile. They have gorged on honey before leaving the hive and have no resources or home to defend. Don’t spray the swarm with water or pesticides. Don’t try to shoo them off by knocking the cluster from their temporary landing spot.
Do not call an exterminator. It is generally against the law in California to exterminate a hive of honeybees except under specific circumstances and then only by a licensed exterminator.
Do contact a knowledgeable beekeeper. Contact your local beekeeping club. Time is of the essence; swarms usually remain for some time, but often move on after stopping only for an hour or less.
In Marin: If you wish to report a swarm, please click on the link at the bottom of this page titled “Proceed to the Swarm Reporting Form” and provide all of the details. A Club Member will contact you shortly to get the particulars and make arrangements to capture the swarm. Or they will be able to put you in touch with someone to capture the swarm or make other recommendations, most often at little or no charge.
Be sure to confirm you are seeing honeybees, and not wasps or yellow jackets. Honeybees are soft and fuzzy looking. Wasps and yellow jackets are shiny and their outer layer is not at all fuzzy. Wasps usually make hanging paper nests; yellow jackets most often make their nests in the ground.
Note the size of the cluster. Make sure the swarm has landed and is forming a tight cluster. Is it the sized of a softball, football or basketball or bigger? How high above the ground are they and are they in a tree or bush or on the side of a structure, etc.? E-mail a picture if you can. If the swarm is on someone else’s property, they will need to give permission to capture the swarm.
Is it a Swarm or a Colony? If the bees are coming and going from an opening in a tree or structure, this is no longer considered a swarm but rather an established colony. Extracting a hive in a tree or structure is more involved than just capturing a swarm, but still quite possible. Structural extractions can be complicated and time consuming, a fee or donation may be requested.