Honey Bee Swarms

Check if you have a honey bee swarm.

Honey bee swarms

There are over 250 types of bees in the UK but there is only one European honey bee (Apis mellifera). So it's imperative that you establish that what you see are in fact honey bees and not any of our other native species.

We can probably find a beekeeper to remove a swarm but we aren’t able to deal with any other similar species as described below.

Beekeepers collect swarms on a voluntary basis; they are NOT paid to provide this service.
The beekeeper may not be able to come immediately; they have jobs and commitments of their own.

Also a swarm will look similar to the photos above. If you have bees in a chimney, cavity wall, tree trunk etc. this is not a swarm but a colony and it may not be possible to remove it without the loss of the bees and significant structural work.

A honey bee colony swarming is a natural process. It's the colony reproducing by the old queen leaving with some of the bees. They leave their hive and find somewhere to hang in a cluster until the scout bees decide on their new home.

Swarming bees usually don’t sting but it is wise to stay away from the swarm and keep children & pets indoors.

If you feel you need to have the bees destroyed please contact a local pest controller. Bees are endangered but they are not protected.

Honey bees

  • Honey bee swarms are thousands not a dozen
  • Is it a compact fuzzy hairy body with dim yellow and black stripes?
  • More interested in plants and bright colours than food or drink?
  • Most swarms often occur on warm Sunny days in May to the end of July, between 11am – 4pm
  • Often there is a peak on a fine day after poor weather when temperatures approach high teens.
  • A real honey bee swarm can be dramatic involving many thousands of bees in a large noisy cloud, however they normally settle into a cluster within 15 minutes.
  • If you think you have a swarm of honey bees then please go to the swarm collectors list to find a local beekeeper.

     


Bumblebees

Bumblebees are often confused with honey bees. However they are rounder, larger and furrier and come with a variety of coloured stripes across the end of their tails. Are they in a bird box, under the decking, in the compost? Bumblebees are important pollinators. Leave the nests alone if possible. They will die out at the end of summer and will cause no further problems. Bumblebees rarely sting or attack people or animals and should therefore not be disturbed. There are 24 different types of native bumblebee, all of which vary in size and colour.

 


Wasps

  • Is it bright yellow with black stripes?
  • Very smooth, mainly yellow with black stripes?
  • Is it in the roof of your house?
  • Are they coming from a round nest in a tree?
  • Is there a nest in the shed?
  • Do they have a high pitched buzz?
  • Are they after all things sweet?
  • Do they have a high pitched buzz?
  • Then these are probably wasps.


 

Hornets

The European hornet is on the left, note the yellow markings on the abdomen and the reddish band on the head. The Asian hornet is on the right, note the darker orange markings on the abdomen and the yellow ends to the legs. The nest of either species should not be disturbed.

Often called ‘the yellow legged hornet’ Asian Hornets are an invasive predator and could have a devastating impact on all pollinators, especially honey bees.

If you think you have seen an Asian hornet, please report it here.

  • Do they have a mostly black body except for its 4th abdominal segment which is a yellow band located towards the rear?
  • The queen is up to 30mm long and worker up to 25mm long (smaller than the European counterpart).
  • Are the legs yellow at the ends (the European hornet has brown legs)?
  • Face is orange with two brownish red compound eyes
  • Do not disturb an active nest.
  • You can find more information on the Asian Hornet at the National Bee Unit.

    Here you can contact a member of the Asian Hornet Team.


Find a beekeeper to remove a swarm -