During late Spring and Summer months, we get lots of enquires from members of the public about bees nesting in gardens, outbuildings and inside properties. Please note our volunteer swarm collecting members can only assist with swarms of Honeybees.
It is worth noting that there are over 250 types of bees in the UK but there is only one European Honeybee (Apis Mellifera). As well as honeybees there are around 24 species of bumblebee and over 240 species of solitary bee in the UK. It is therefore important that you can identify what types of bees you are enquiring about in the first instance.
Please click the link below to help identify what type of bee you have and who to approach for help and information.
Swarming is the natural way a honeybee colony reproduces, it occurs when an existing colony subdivides. Swarming is essential to the bees’ survival.
Swarming season varies depending on the region where you live, but generally can happen from April to July.
Honeybees are small, if swarming there may be a large number flying in a group or collecting into a cluster on a wall, in a tree or other often unusual places. If found in an exposed location, they may not stay there for very long before moving on to a more permanent ‘wild’ home, so it is essential that you try to get them removed as quickly as possible. Please note, if you have honeybees in the structure of a property e.g. inside an air vent or chimney, the local voluntary beekeepers would be unable to remove them. You would need to speak to pest control and have them professional removed. If the pest controllers can remove them humanely they will usually have a beekeeper contact who can give them a more suitable home.
What to do if you see a swarm
Honeybees can swarm for several reasons one of which is to form a new colony. When young queens are about emerge in the parent colony the old Queen leaves together with a proportion of the workers. This swarm then lands nearby and forms a cluster to wait for scout bees to find them a new home. It is at this point that beekeepers capture the swarm, take it away and house it in a hive.
The swarm is not dangerous while it is clustered as long as it is left alone. Please do not panic! Honeybees in a swarm will have gorged themselves on honey prior to leaving their hive and will be busy either concentrating on their queen’s pheromones, or off as scout bees trying to find a new home. It is therefore extremely unlikely that the bees will sting you.
- DO NOT poke them or try to knock them off with a stick.
- DO NOT light fires near them in hope they will move.
- DO NOT spray or pour any chemicals or boiling water on them!
- Call a beekeeper as soon as you find a swarm (you can find your nearest beekeeper using the link below and entering your postcode on the interactive location map)
Voluntary swarm collecting beekeepers are UNABLE to:
- remove established colonies from buildings.
- Remove a wasp nest.
- Move bumblebee colonies.
More information on bumblebees can be found here.
If you think you think you may have spotted a Asian Hornet, please contact our AHAT Team Lead immediately.