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Swarming

Swarming is a natural process that occurs when honey bees in the hive allow a new queen to develop and the colony splits into two smaller colonies. Swarming is the honey bees' way of reproducing.

One group of bees with a queen will fly and eventually land in a suitable location, such as tree or post. Some bees can be seen flying from the swarm, these are scout bees, searching for a suitable place for the colony to fly to and set up a permanent hive.

The usual swarming season is between April to the end of August, and this is the time when members of the public often need the services of a beekeeper to deal with honey bee swarms.

Beekeepers will only deal with honey bees swarms, and this page has been created to help you identify the most common types of insects we get called out to deal with. If you do have a honey bee swarm which can be removed safely, we have several members who volunteer their services.

 

Please follow the advice on this page or if you are still unsure, then go to – https://www.bbka.org.uk/what-bee-is-this

A swarm
Bee on a flower

Bumblebees are often confused with honeybees. 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. Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of bumblebees.

There are over 250 types of bees in the UK but there is only one European honey bee (Apis mellifera). Honey bees are small and vary in colour from golden brown to almost black.

Bee on a flower
Bee on a flower

Is it bright yellow with black stripes? Very smooth, mainly yellow with black stripes? Is it in the attic 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? Then these are probably wasps. Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of wasps.

Solitary bees - Are there lots of small bees popping in and out of the wall or very small holes in the ground? Do they have a "reddy/brown" bottom? Are they almost black? These are solitary bees, of which there are 225 species recorded in the UK and they pose no threat or harm to you, your family or pets. Solitary bees are important pollinators and should be left alone. Their numbers will decrease over the summer and their nests should be left alone. Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of solitary bees.

Bee on a flower

Here’s a video taken by Gary Hammond of North Herts Beekeepers Association where can see you hundreds of these solitary mining bees flying over a bed of soil where they have made their burrows. Gary says he’s been getting calls from the swarm line but has gone out to find these mining bees.

Swarm checklist
  • I have a swarm of bees in my chimney / cavity wall / high level / hard to reach place. What can I do?
    Once a honey bee swarm becomes established in a chimney or cavity wall, they are quite difficult to remove. They are unlikely to cause structural damage. Many beekeepers are unable to remove such swarms due to the risk associated with such works. We recommend you contact a bee friendly pest controller for advice. The following may be able to help or give advice. Please note that they will charge for any services performed. Mark – ARC contracting Limited mark@arccontracting.co.uk 07894717029 Mr Wasp Specialist Bee Nest Removal & Control Services | Mr Wasp www.mrwasp.co.uk 02920 754796 Swarm catchers SwarmCatcher – Live Honey Bee Removal and Relocation Specialists UK admin@swarmcatcher.co.uk 01297 441272 Lorne East Project Manager Sirhowy Valley Honeybee Co. Ltd 07507108563
  • Will I get stung?
    Honey bees are at their most docile while swarming. Before leaving the hive they gorge themselves on their honey stores, this makes them very docile. If you leave a swarm alone they are unlikely to bother you.
  • I have a honey bee swarm. What should I do?
    If a honey bee swarm has landed at your property or you know of one, then the first thing to do is not to panic. Honey bees are at their most docile while swarming, and are unlikely to bother you if left alone. This page details how you can contact one of our swarm collection volunteers.
  • Will the bees attack my pets?
    Honey bees are at their most docile while swarming. Before leaving the hive they gorge themselves on their honey stores, this makes them very docile. If you leave a swarm alone they are unlikely to bother you. Pets are sometime inquisitive, keep them in doors if posible.
Honey Bees

If you have identified a honey bee swarm then leave it alone and record the following information:

1. Address of swarm location

2. Contact name and telephone number of a witness

3. Is the swarm accessible? e.g. Is a ladder required?

The following members are prepared to come and collect honey bee swarms in their area. Please contact the individual directly at the number given below. If they are unable to answer please leave a message detailing the above points. 

We can be very busy during the swarming season, so please be patient and someone will contact you.  Please note we collect swarms at the home owner and/or land owner’s risk and we cannot be held responsible for any damage caused to property.

Please note, the beekeeper may charge for their service.

Cardiff, Cardiff West, Llantrisant & Vale of Glamorgan

Nick Mensikov

0794 996 9530

Aberdare / Merthyr Tydfil

Kevin Edwards

0779 918 0130

Caerphilly / North Cardiff

John Sweet

0777 342 4529

Cardiff, Penarth & Vale of Glamorgan

Nigel Clark

0788 179 3933

Penarth & Dinas Powys

Lynette El-Khatib

0750 627 2225

Cardiff Bay & Penarth

Anne Botterill

0781 128 6118

Caerphilly, Blackwood, Treharris, Machen, North Cardiff & Beddau

Jane Finch

0770 745 3078

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