We often receive calls regarding swarms of bees. Many of these are not swarms of honeybees but other bees and insects which we are unable to help with. The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) website gives excellent guidance to help you identify whether or not it is a swarm of honeybees and how best to get advice or help. We also have information and links on our Identifying Bees page.
A swarm of honey bees emerges from a colony as an obvious, noisy swirling cloud of bees. If you see them come out of the colony they are appear to be falling over themselves to get out and it happens very quickly. Within a matter of minutes they will start to gather nearby in a cluster. This may be on the branches of a tree or bush, fence posts, eaves, porchways, and even garden furniture. This clustered swarm is the best stage to capture and remove the bees and can usually be done quickly and easily by a skilled beekeeper. However, the cluster is just a staging post while they look for a new permanent home, usually a cavity of some sort. Once they’ve found somewhere, in hours or a few days, they fly off to occupy their new residence. Once they have gone in they are no longer a ‘swarm’ but a colony and removing them becomes more difficult.
Before leaving their original colony, they will have fed extensively on honey and the swarm is usually calm and no threat if left alone. However as their food supplies dwindle and they can get much more nervous and spikey so it is beneficial to act sooner rather than later.
Once a colony is established you will probably notice many bees flying from a hole rather than a significant visible cluster of bees. Beekeepers can give general advice about such cases but often removal is difficult and requires the skills of a professional pest controller.
How we can help
Beekeepers are happy to give advice and if necessary make a visit to help identify and resolve the problem. Only rarely will a beekeeper remove a honeybee colony established somewhere in a building and professional pest controllers should be contacted. Beekeepers will not destroy wasps’ nests or bumblebee nests. Both colonies decay and disappear in the autumn, so if you can live with them until then, wait it out and the problem will go away of its own accord. In these species the mated queens hibernate through the winter and establish new colonies elsewhere in the spring.
To find a local swarm collector, you can enter your postcode on the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) website which will list those closest to you.
Alternatively contact one of our swarm collectors directly. They are all BBKA members and insured to collect swarms.
Greg Cobb (coordinator) Farnham 07720 296601
David Fitzpatrick Farnham 07710 583587
Oliver Chadwick Farnham 01252 717543 / 07890 559898
Geoff Redwood Hale 01252 712072 / 07767 274509
Charles Durham Hale 01252 718849
David Baines Elstead 01252 702280 / 07810 750789
David Clague Godalming 01483 420261
Peter Roeder Headley Down, Bordon 01428 712939 / 07786 075124