NEW BER, CRAVEN COUNTY -

Although spring doesn't officially start for a few more days, it sure looks like its in full swing, with flowers blooming across Eastern Carolina. This means there are more bees, and they're keeping the Craven/Pamlico Bee Keepers Association busy.

During this time of year, the CPBA responds to a lot of calls of bee swarms at places like attics and rafters. Members of the association will then collect the swarms for free, and relocate the colonies.

In spring, honey bees split off from their main hive and begin to form new colonies. The search for a permanent location can take a few days While the search is occurring, honey bees will stay balled together in swarms.

"With a swarm, they would come in and they would gather on a branch... and it would be something small like the size of a grapefruit, or it could be something quite large- perhaps the size of a football or maybe a little bit bigger," said D.J. Moran, a member of the CPBA.

Honey bees are not dangerous, and they only become aggressive if they are protecting their "brood" or larvae bees, according to CPBA members.

"When they're foraging, you can see I can put my hand very near them," said Moran. "Of course, if you were to try and squish them, you would get stung. But  they aren't protecting their brood, so they aren't going to harm you at all."

CPBA has about 65 members, each one a trained bee keeper. Members said after taking classes, they learned how essential honey bees are for plants to thrive. 

"The most important aspect of a honey bee for humans is pollination," Moran said. "They are responsible for about 90 percent of our food."

"The honey bee makes it so that our crops have big yields. Like almonds- we wouldn't even have any almonds if it weren't for bees." said Bill Moran, CPBA's president.

Bill and D.J. Moran are married and have six hives on their property. Each can contain at least 20,000 bees, and as many as 90,000. They can harvest as much as 100 pounds of award-winning honey each year from a hive, the Morans said.

The couple said they are happy to help collect  bee swarms, because once a colony decides to populate a structure, it is very difficult to get rid of it. Even if the bees get exterminated, their honey and wax can attract bugs and other animals, CPBA members said. Oftentimes, it takes a contractor to open a structure and remove the entire hive.

To know how to identify a honey bee or a honey bee swarm, or to find out more about swarm collection, click here.