A new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees, a process called swarming. In the prime swarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen. This swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees. Swarming is mainly a spring phenomenon, usually within a two- or three-week period depending on the locale, but occasional swarms can happen throughout the producing season. Secondary after swarms may happen but are rare. After Swarms are usually smaller and are accompanied by one or more virgin queens. Sometimes a beehive will swarm in succession until it is almost totally depleted of workers.

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Swarming is the natural means of reproduction of honey bee colonies. In the process of swarming the original single colony reproduces to two and sometimes more colonies. Entomologists consider a colony as a superorganism. A colony with a queen needs a certain colony size to reproduce. An individual queen, drone or bee without a colony cannot survive for long.

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