Terry and Wilf Ruskowsky had about 15,000 uninvited guests Tuesday afternoon.
At about 3 p.m., Terry said she heard a really loud humming noise and before she knew it a swarm of honey bees flew from a neighbour’s backyard into her backyard.
“You couldn’t even go outside. It was just unreal. It was just black in the backyard,” Terry said on Wednesday.
She expected the bees would have headed straight to an apple tree blooming in their neighbour’s yard. Instead they went straight to her outdoor furniture.
“They actually attached themselves to the back of our wrought iron furniture. The whole corner was literally covered with honey bees.”
The couple found Lacombe Honey to help them out. Staff came out with protective clothing and a hive.
“They came and lifted up the leg of the bench and put it in the hive and then gave it a tap and they fell into the hive. At dusk they all went into the hive eventually.”
By about 9 p.m., most of the bees were taken away by Lacombe Honey.
Craig Clark, owner of Lacombe Honey, said swarms breaking away from overcrowded hives happens more often in May and June.
“Quite often they’re way up high in a tree or a place that’s tough to get at. Knocking them off a chair is about as easy as it gets,” Clark chuckled.
He said swarms generally will look for a new suitable home within a few blocks of their old hive.
High temperatures, blooming fruit trees and dandelion fields have bees feeding on nectar earlier than usual and probably caught a lot of beekeepers off guard, he said.
“You have to give them lots of room and keep adding (hive) boxes on. Most people aren’t even adding boxes yet. And sometimes there’s nothing you can do. They have a reproduction urge just like everything else.”
Clark said a swarm can look frightening, but the honey bees were really calm and presented no danger. Only honey bees will suddenly form a giant cluster.
“The biggest danger is that they won’t make it through the night on these cold spring nights.”
If people see honey bee swarms in their yard, they should not spray or attempt to kill it. They pose little risk to pets or people because they have no hive to defend, he said.
Terry said she wasn’t scared of the honey bees and neither was her husband.
“My husband touched the bees with his hand, the whole swarm that was on the corner of the bench. He put his hand right on them and he said it felt like velvet.
“They were on my arms. They were in my hair and they didn’t do anything to me.”
Anyone who has a honey bee swarm can contact Red Deer beekeepers through https://www.facebook.com/groups/reddeerbees. http://www.abcbees.ca/swarms — also has information.