HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Spring means honeybees are swarming in the Pine Belt and making stops on trees, in walls and on car tires before settling into their new homes.
"Right now this time of year, they're swarming," said Kevin Knaak, beekeeper and owner of Black Creek Honey Company. "We get calls 7, 8, 10 calls a day of people with bees swarming wanting us to come get them."
Knaak said bee colonies split, with half staying in the current hive and half out scouting for a new place to build one.
"They swarm, and they take a rest break," he said. "It may be on a tire at USM."
Knaak said this week was the first time he ever saw bees swarm and land on a car tire, but he was able to remove them successfully.
"Basically we just swept them into a box," he said. "I caught the queen and put her in the box in a little cage. The bees are going go wherever the queen's at, so they just started walking in. After they got in there, we took them home."
Being a beekeeper was not something Knaak ever imagined, but fulfilling a birthday wish for his son brought bees into his life.
"A couple years ago, my 7-year-old son wanted bees and a bee suit for his birthday, so we obliged," Knaak said. "That's when we got them, and the rest is history. Now we've got lots of bees. We bottle honey. We harvest the bees wax and make candles. Stuff like that."
He also does bee removal, both when they are swarming and when they have build hives in homes, and built his own bee-safe vacuum.
"I built my own," he said. "It vacuums them up into a box, and then I can just set that box on top of a hive. It's got a slide out drawer on the bottom. Just open it up, and they go down into the hive. There's nowhere else for them to go."
With the push to save honeybees, Knaak said finding a specialist who can remove the bees without harming them is one of the only ways to get rid of them.
"A lot of the pest control people won't even spray them anymore for that reason," he said. "Getting somebody like us is about the only way to get rid of them, unless you spray them yourself."
Knaak said the honeybees maybe overwhelming, but they are not likely to harm you.
"The bees gorge themselves on honey before they swarm because they're going somewhere where they don't have anything to eat. when they're full like that, they're pretty gentle, and they're pretty calm. Really, people don't have to worry about them when they're swarming, just when they're protecting a hive that's actually already in existence."
Even then, he said honeybees are not as likely to sting people as other insects are, like wasps or yellow jacket.
"For the most part, honeybees, when they sting, they die," Knaak said. "So usually, they'll just bump you before they sting you because if they sting you, it kills them."
If you have a swarm, Knaak said you can call a removal service or wait for them to leave on their own. He said stops only last about 24 hours.