Bee-fore you panic and reach for the insecticide at the sight of fuzzy, yellow-striped visitors to your home and garden this spring, members of the Butler County Beekeepers Association hope you'll give them a call.
"They're more than happy to come and get bees," member Kari Bruskotter said. "Right now, for us to buy these bees, it's hundreds of dollars."
It's a win-win for professional beekeepers to remove a swarm from a home or yard, she said. You get the hive out of your space at little to no cost, and they get a freebie: Free bees.
Although rates of colony collapse disorder, which devastated the global population of honeybees at the turn of the century, are declining, Bruskotter said, their numbers still haven't recovered. Exterminating bees in your space further reduces the population -- which, in turn, drives up the price of bees when keepers like Bruskotter try to purchase them.
Finding them a new home, on the other hand, helps everyone.
"You get them out of your house and you get the satisfaction of knowing you're contributing to keeping our bees healthy," she said. "Pollinators are required for a lot of the fruits and vegetables we eat; your plate gets very boring if we don't have natural pollinators around."
Why is it possible to move bees this way but not other insects? Honeybees naturally swarm around their queen and will build a home wherever she is; in the spring, when the queen gives birth to new queen larvae, the existing hive divides into smaller hives so every queen has a retinue of workers.
Beekeepers can re-home a hive by transporting the queen and the existing honeycomb structure -- the workers, ultimately, are as happy in one place as another as long as they are able to produce honey and stay near their queen.
Bruskotter encouraged anyone who spots a swarm on their property to contact the Butler County Beekeepers Association via their Facebook page so a keeper can stop by to remove them.
And one more piece of advice:
"Swarms typically are pretty peaceful as long as you don't interact with them," she said.