Honeybees in Natrona County

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[1] Local Weather and weekly forecast.

A backyard beehive


Help! There are bees in my yard!

A cluster formed on a hanging planter

Congratulations!
You've likely been honored with a visit by a swarm!

Really - this is a good thing! Even if it may appear overwhelming and maybe even a bit scary.

A few things to do and know:

  • Let's make sure they really are honey bees and not something else. Take a look down this page for pictures on how to tell the difference between honey bees and other insects, like Yellow Jackets and wasps. Honey bees we can help with - other insects, not so much.
A cluster gathered in a pine tree. Actual picture sent by a home owner in Casper. Spring '15
  • Relax! This is the safest time to be around these bees. I know it's kinda scary - being so unusual and they do make a lot of noise - but these bees have only two goals in mind and as long as you don't get in their way - they will leave you alone.
    • First goal? Protect their queen!

The swarm, if it hasn't already, will find a spot to cluster. Often a branch, overhang or sometimes a wall. The queen will land there and the rest of the flying workers will form a tight, protective ball around her called a cluster. A few others will fly around - there're always stragglers late to the party. They simply haven't landed yet.

    • The second goal? Find a new home!

A few of the older, more experienced bees, called scouts, will fly off and look for a new hive site for the colony to move into.

What do I do?

  • Give us a call! We'll be happy to have one of our volunteer beekeepers come out and collect the swarm - for free! We do not charge for swarm collections. We'll be happy to give them a new, safe place to live in a managed yard. You can call Metro Animal control at (307) 235-8398 and they'll help you get in touch with us. If you want to call us direct, need help with a swarm collection or have questions about bees - call the cell number or check out the About NCBees page for contact info (email, etc).
NCBEE.org Cell number
  • Call us early enough, we should be able to get the swarm safely moved into a managed hive before they find a place to move into on their own (someone's walls, and old shed, a hollow tree, birdhouse, etc). Typically, it takes a swarm anywhere from a few hours to a few days to move into a new hive on their own. The earlier you call us, the more likely we'll have of a successful capture.
  • Now, last thing you would want to do is go out and harass, pick on, poke at or disturb that cluster. Please, do not spray them with anything! So long as their queen is safe, they're happy to simply hang out while scouts are looking for likely new hive sites. In the mean time, they are not a threat to passersby. So long as you don't disturb them, they'll take care of themselves and leave you alone.
  • Take pictures - this is a wonder of nature and something to be remembered. It's not everyone that gets honored by such a visit. You have one of natures unique Super Organisms right there. An organism of individual insects all working as a single group - much like the cells in your own body keeping you healthy.
  • Now, on the off chance you've a colony that's been there awhile - months to years - you're welcome to give us a call. We're happy to come take a look and can share options and resources so you can make an informed decision. Removing an established colony often takes quite a bit more time and expense. But, we can help to evaluate your situation and offer advice so you can choose an appropriate plan of action. We don't charge to evaluate and offer advice. A word of caution: Do not just kill an established colony in a structure! The resultant rot, pests, drips, rodents, soak through and other follow on mess and problems will be huge and very expensive to clean up.

Honey bees or something else?

A Yellow Jacket Queen starting a new nest.

Honeybees are not Yellow jackets (Wasps)! Natrona county is rich in Yellow jackets and recently, European Paper Wasps. The differences between then and honey bees are significant. European Paper Wasps (EPW) look quite similar to Yellow Jackets, and unless you know what you're looking for - are almost indistinguishable to the casual observer. For our purposes here - they're pretty much the same.

Difference between honey bees and yellow jackets.

Honeybees are vegetarians, eating only plant nectar, honey and pollen. Yellow jackets (and EPWs) are carnivores and predatory, not only hunting other insects, but are also scavengers. Special near the end of summer, when food is less available, they can become quite aggressive near garbage bins, picnics or kitchens. This is why they seem to be attracted to your ham sandwich! Many use their prey as fodder for their young. Honeybees will defend their hive or themselves if provoked, but generally are much less aggressive than Yellow jackets. Honeybees do not like to sting, as it kills them. Yellow jacket stingers are barbless and they can sting multiple times without injury to themselves. Yellow jackets are more prone to sting with less provocation, special if foraging or alone. Of more significance, Yellow jackets are not pollinators, and do not produce honey or beeswax. This site is a commercial garden supply seller that has more details on Yellow jackets.

Also note: YJs build their nests out of a grey, paper like material. Honey bees do not make 'paper'.

We do offer some information on controlling Yellow Jackets. Be careful, these things are not only mean, but they hurt!

Meetings

Please visit the NCBA Meetings page for details and information on when we meet, where we meet and what we do at the meetings.

Find us on Facebook

Swarm Brochure

Here is a PDF copy of our 'introduction' brochure. Feel free to make copies and share amongst your friends and neighbors.

NCBEES Brochure (PDF)

This and several other documents are available in the Library - see the link under 'resources' in the sidebar.

Want to keep bees?

Visit our Getting Started page for information on starting your own apiary.

Where are the bees?

This map, provided by the WY Ag Dept. shows the location of registered yards in Wyoming.

Honey Bee Biology

This is a HUGE arena with discoveries being made all the time. Visit our Honey Bee Biology page for some of the basics and leads for further study.

Honey Bee forage in Wyoming

Not sure who "BWrangler" is, but his web site has some great WY beekeeping info!

This page, in particular, detailing what forage his bees worked through out a season is quite useful!

Be sure to read up on the rest of his site. Some good stuff.

Estimated Frost Dates

For Casper, WY - Each winter, on average, your risk of frost is from September 19 through May 22.

Casper is located in USDA Hardiness Zone 3

Casper, WY:

Temperature 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%
Spring: 32° Jun 8 Jun 2 May 29 May 25 May 22 May 18 May 15 May 11 May 5
Spring: 28° May 18 May 14 may 10 May 7 May 5 May 2 Apr 29 Apr 26 Apr 21
Spring: 24° May 9 May 4 May 1 Apr 28 Apr 25 Apr 23 Apr 20 Apr 16 Apr 12


Read more

If you've ordered package bees through Prairie Wind or Ft. Collins Honey - some good dates to be aware of when choosing your delivery! In Casper late April to early May - just right!

Honey Bee Facts

Visit our Honey Bee Facts page for interesting tid-bits and trivia on honey bees.

Threats to Honey Bees

Another section that's grown to deserve it's own page, Threats to Honey Bees and some things you can do to help.

Hive modeling software

Want to see how different things, different conditions and management techniques may affect a colony? You can now model a hive using this software freely downloadable from beehave-model.net. I've just started with this myself, but it looks quite powerful! For a brief overview, watch the video presentation here.

Mead

Often called "The Drink of the Gods", mead is an ancient and relatively easy to make alcoholic beverage. If you're in Casper and interested in making your own batch of mead, visit Dr. Fermento's brew shop downtown. Supplies, equipment and guidance are available.

More info

A 'Wikibook' on Beekeeping

You're welcome to come attend our meetings or post on our discussion board, The Wyoming Bee Forum. However, you do have to register an account to post on the forum - but it's free. You can also call me direct - find my info on the About NCBees page here on this wiki.

Help with this Wiki

Consult the User's Guide for information on using the wiki software.