This Beekeeper’s Advice on What to Do if You See a Swarm Has Gone Viral
With spring just around the corner and summer not far behind, bee season is about to be upon us. For Jen Parshall, the owner and beekeeper of apiary Molly’s Bees Honey, this means it is time to dispel myths about bees. She took to her company’s Facebook page to clear up some traditional misconceptions, and to educate people about what to do if you see a swarm of bees.
Jen Parshall wrote:
“Spring is only three weeks away! That means that the bees will be preparing to swarm soon. Swarming is the way that hives naturally reproduce. When a hive is strong enough and has a good population of bees, they will produce a new Queen, then the old queen will leave the hive and take half of the bees with her, leaving the new queen and the remaining bees behind. If you happen to see a swarm of bees, DO NOT PANIC! A swarm of bees is very docile, as they have no hive, no eggs and no honey to protect. DO NOT spray them with pesticides! PLEASE DO call your local beekeeper’s association and they will be more than happy to send a beekeeper to collect the bees. Once collected, the beekeeper will put them into a hive and help them establish a new colony.”Since the photo was originally posted on March 1, the post has garnered over 76,000 reactions, 13,000 comments, and over 255,000 shares, as well as coverage in numerous press outlets. As the initial post gained popularity, Parshall posted another image to help inexperienced eyes identify bees and other insects. Jen Parshall spoke exclusively to Your Daily Dish about where the post came from, writing, “Well, it’s definitely been overwhelming to say the least. And it was completely unexpected. But as the comments and messages come in, overall it’s been a positive experience, I’ve reached far more people than I intended to. And in contrast to a lot of the other viral posts out there, mine is at least spreading some information that will hopefully prevent people from reacting out of fear to a situation that doesn’t deserve it. I am a part of several beekeeping groups on Facebook and last week I happened to see the swarm photo posted to one of the groups by Tim Spanjer in Smyrna, GA. I asked him if I could borrow it to post on my local page, which at the time had roughly 500 followers, and they were mostly local customers of mine who would occasionally buy honey, lip balms etc. Tim gave me permission to use the photo and I posted it along with a brief description of honeybees swarming and asking people to please not kill them if they see something like this, basically just trying to educate the local community in case MY BEES ever swarmed, I would have a better chance of locating them and catching them if people knew to call a beekeeper and not an exterminator.” She went on to discuss the huge viral impact of the post, as well as the message she hopes people take from it.
“In the beginning, that post acted as many of the posts on my page do. A few shares, a couple of comments and a few likes. And then friends of people who shared it started to share it. About 24 hours after I posted it, it had been shared maybe 1,000 times. On Friday it was up to around 6,000. Saturday morning a friend of mine said “You’ll probably hit 10,000 today!” and it went way beyond that. I sent a message to Tim in Smyrna letting him know that this post seemed to have gone viral, and he was happy that it was getting around spreading some good information about what to do if you see a swarm. By Sunday, people Tim knew were seeing it and tagging him. Molly’s Bees Honey went from having 500 likes on Facebook to almost 13,000. I originally started Molly’s Bees Facebook page as a way to inform my local community about honeybees and how they do what they do and why. I wanted to help calm people’s fears and educate them because I’ve seen villages ban residents from keeping honeybees (which I think is a ridiculous thing to do…ban someone from keeping a part of nature in their yard!) and I just wanted to put some facts out there to help change the perception that bees are angry pests that just want to sting people and their children. And I realize that a lot of people are seeing that photo of bees on a kid’s playset and immediately thinking of their kid being stung 10,000 times over, and that’s the reason it went as far as it did. It went viral because people are afraid of honeybees. Some people shared that post on their own pages, saying “I never knew that you could call a beekeeper if this happened” or “Here’s some good information, I learned something new today!” and a lot of beekeepers messaged me to let me know they were so happy to see a post like this going around. So, mission accomplished…just on a much larger scale than I had originally intended.”Our thanks to Jen Parshall for speaking with us.
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