Swarm is the rendering, in the A. V., of two very different Hebrew words.
1. עֵדָה, 'edâh (usually rendered "congregation" or "assembly"), is employed to designate the swarm of bees and honey found by Samson in the lion's carcass (Jg 14:8). The lion which Samson slew had been dead some little time before the bees had taken up their abode in the carcass, for it is expressly stated that "after a time" Samson returned and saw the bees and honey in the lion's carcass, so that "if," as Oedmann has well observed, "anyone here represents to himself a corrupt and putrid carcass, the occurrence ceases to have any true similitude, for it is well known that in these countries, at certain seasons of the year, the heat will, in the course of twenty-four hours, so completely dry up the moisture of dead camels, and that without their undergoing decomposition, that their bodies long remain, like mummies, unaltered and entirely free from offensive odor." To the foregoing quotation we may add that very probably the ants would help to consume the carcass, and leave, perhaps, in a short time, little else than a skeleton. Herodotus (5. 114) speaks of a certain Oinesilus, who had been taken prisoner by the Amathusians and beheaded, and whose head, having been suspended over the gates, had become occupied by a swarm of bees; comp. also Aldrovandus (De Insect. 1, 110). Dr. Thomson (Land and Book, 2, 362) mentions this occurrence of a swarm of bees in a lion's carcass as an extraordinary thing, and makes an unhappy conjecture that perhaps "hornets," debabir in Arabic, are intended, "if it were known," says he, "that they manufactured honey enough to meet the demands of the story." It is known however, that hornets do not make honey, nor do any of the family Vespidae, with the exception, so far as has been hitherto observed, of the Brazilian Nectarina mellifica. SEE BEE.
2. עָלב, 'arôb, is the term applied to the fourth of the plagues (q.v.) of Egypt (Ex 8:8-31; "divers sorts of flies," Ps 78:45; Ps 105:31). It is regarded by most interpreters as a species of gadfly, or tabanus (Michaelis, Supplem. p. 1960), such as is still very troubiesome to animals in Egypt (Forskal, Descr. Amnin. p. 85; Rippell, Arab. p. 73). See Bochart, flieroz. 3, 472; Werner, in the Miscell. Lips. Nov. 3, 201 sq. SEE FLY.