Where are the unusual swarms of bees in Chișinău, Moldova, coming from?

In Chișinău, Moldova’s capital, and other cities of Moldova, people have spotted several large swarms of bees.  Moldovan independent news outlet NewsMaker published an article about where these swarms came from, and Global Voices translated, edited for clarity, and re-published with permission from NewsMaker.

In the spring of 2024 in Chișinău, citizens reported several instances of bee swarms appearing in urban areas. Swarms of bees were seen at the central market, on a car parked downtown near the Atrium and Grand Hall shopping centers, and near the Oasis Mall. These instances were reported on social media or in local Telegram channels.

Additionally, the Transnistrian TV channel TSV reported two cases of swarms appearing in urban areas. In one instance, bees flew into a classroom window during a lesson at a Tiraspol school and stung a teacher. In another case, a swarm of bees was circling near the medical clinic.

The Ministry of Agriculture stated that these incidents are related to swarming, a natural phenomenon typical for this time of year. “A swarm of bees is usually not aggressive and is looking for a new place to establish their colony. If not provoked, they are not dangerous to humans. If citizens notice a swarm of bees, we urge them to contact the National Association of Beekeepers of Moldova or a local beekeeper,” explained Ministry of Agriculture spokeswoman Daniela Turculeț.

So where do these swarms come from? During swarming, part of the existing hive separates to form a new colony.

“Swarming is a natural phenomenon. In spring, under certain circumstances, bees start to create queen cells, from which new queens will emerge. There cannot be two queens in one hive, so the old queen, sensing the birth of new ‘royalty,’ takes her entourage—some worker bees—and leaves the hive. There are also cases when living conditions in the hive become unbearable due to lack of food, high temperatures, etc., and in such cases, bees also leave their hive. Who would want to live in a house where conditions become intolerable?” explained Andrei Gilan, manager of the beekeeping company Sweetland.

Ion Maxim, executive director of the National Association of Beekeepers of Moldova (ANARM), noted that similar occurrences have been observed in previous years, and the appearance of bees in urban areas is largely coincidental. “In the case of the bees appearing at the central market, I think they found a food source there and decided to go there. Every bee family has different workers, including scouts, who fly around looking for new places to settle,” Maxim noted.

He mentioned that there are very few wild bees in Moldova, and the runaway swarms are likely bees from beekeepers. “There are no bees in the city center; there are [hives] on the outskirts: in the area of the agricultural university, and there are special sites in ravines, which are far from people,” said Maxim.

What should you do if you encounter a swarm of bees? Experts note that if you see a swarm of bees, you should not panic but contact a beekeeper. “You can also write in the Facebook group Apiculutori din Moldova. There, you will find people who will gladly come and take these bees,” said Gilan.

ANARM also urged beekeepers to be more cautious and monitor their hives, removing new queens. “If you see bees, you can contact a familiar beekeeper or call the association,” said Maxim.

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