Q: What if I see a swarm?
Swarming is a natural way of honey bee colony reproduction. Once a colony becomes crowded and the space is too tight, a portion of the colony's individuals will leave with the old queen to seek a new nest. Swarms are generally docile and will not be defensive as they not yet have a home to defend. Swarms will generally move from a temporary location (tree canopy, bushes, water meter, etc.), which is likely where you noticed the swarm, into a permanent home identified by bees called scouts. If you see a swarm, leave it alone and contact your local beekeepers' association. For California, a good place to start is the California State Beekeepers Association. For a list of local bee associations and clubs see the Bee Clubs document at the bottom of the page.
Q: I think my bees are sick or have died from a disease, where can I get them tested?
For testing of various pests, parasites and pathogens USDA Honey Bee Lab Maryland allows beekeepers to send samples and they will provide these services, free of charge. To learn how to prepare samples for submission for analysis please visit their "How to submit samples" page.
Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) also currently provides pest and disease services analysis and can provide you with an Emergency Test Kit or Diagnostic Test Kit for sample collection.
Q: What do I do if I suspect my colony died due to pesticide exposure?
If you suspect your bees were exposed to pesticides, we recommend you document everything with photos and videos. Collect samples according to the recommendation of the service you are planning to use and samples of the bees from both surviving and dying colonies. Collecting a small amount of bee bread could also be helpful for pesticide testing. Any suspected pesticide kills should be reported to your County Agricultural Commissioner's Office (map of counties).
California Department of Pesticide Regulation has multiple options for assisting beekeepers. They have recently created an app to allow users to report pesticide incidents in California 24 hours a day. The link for this program can be found HERE.
Bee pesticide testing is also offered by the National Science Laboratories.
IN A PESTICIDE EMERGENCY INVOLVING HUMANS PLEASE CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY.
Q: I believe my hives now contain Africanized bees, what do I do?
In the state of California it is illegal to keep Africanized and/or overly defensive honey bee colonies. UCANR offers excellent resources on what to do if you suspect that your bees are now Africanized, and UCCE San Diego outlines the steps on how to re-queen a hive in an easy to follow video.
If you are interested in testing your bees for Africanization via mitotyping, please contact the Queen and Disease Clinic at NCSU.