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Honey Bee Swarms

In the summer months we get many calls and questions from members of the public with bees in their houses, outbuildings and gardens but our volunteer members are only able to help in cases of swarms of honey bees and not bumblebees or wasps. 

Before contacting us please look at the photos below and read this page carefully.

Swarm Collection


There are around 260 species of bee found in the UK and only one of these is the honey bee.  The British Beekeepers' Association looks after members who keep honey bees.  They have volunteers who will be pleased to collect swarms of honey bees so they can be re-homed. A swarm of honey bees is many thousands of bees in a cluster shaped like a rugby ball typically found hanging off a tree or fence. As well as honey bees there are around 24 species of bumblebee and over 240 species of solitary bee in the UK.  

Please see the 'Types of bee' section to help identify what type of bee or wasp you have.

If you feel you need to have the bees destroyed then please contact a local reputable pest control company.  

Bees are endangered but they are not protected.
 

Our volunteer beekeepers can only assist in cases of swarms OF HONEY BEES.

Honeybees are the only insects that swarm. They leave their hive in a great cloud of bees that fill the air. Soon they start to settle in a temporary cluster. They will remain here for a few hours or a couple of days, until they have found a suitable new home and then they will be on the move again. 

At this stage bees will be relatively docile as they will have filled their stomachs prior to swarming. However, we recommend that you do not get too close and make sure that children and pets are kept well away.

 

Please refer to these images to see what a swarm of bees may look like.

 

 

 

So, you still think you have seen a swarm?

Having looked at these images and you believe that you do have a swarm of honey bees contact either Wimbledon Beekeepers Association on:   swarms@wimbledonbeekeepers.com

or go to the British Beekeepers Association website, which will list the beekeepers closest to you: 

 

It will be extremely useful if you can take a photo. We will need to know location of the swarm, when you first noticed it, its height from the ground and about access.

If it is suitable for collection a beekeeper will come and collect the swarm. Under most circumstances the swarm will be contained and then left in place until later that evening, by which time most of the bees will have settled inside. Someone will return later that day, probably early evening, to remove it.

***Beekeepers will not remove or destroy wasp nests or colonies of bumblebees***

 

If you are unable to wait until then, you will need to contact a pest control company.

If you suspect that you have a bumblebee nest, then The Bumblebee Conservation Trust supplies information about the different types of bumblebees.

 

For wasp nest removal follow this link:

 

Why do bees swarm?

 

Swarming is the honey bee colony’s natural means of reproduction. Beekeepers go to enormous lengths to control swarming by producing ‘artificial swarms’. However this is not fool-proof and swarms will still get away. The swarming season is from April to July with the peak in early May to mid June.

The existing queen bee leaves the colony, together with between a third and half of the bees in a great swirling cloud (approximately 20,000). They will gradually begin to settle not far from the original hive – in a tree or hedge - though walls and cars are not uncommon. From here scout bees will be sent out to find a more suitable permanent home, which could be up to one kilometre away. It may be a matter of hours, or even a couple of days before they are on the move again to their new home. 

Swarms of bees can appear quite frightening, but they tend not to be aggressive at this stage as they have filled themselves with honey before swarming and they do not have a hive to defend. They are more interested in finding a new nesting point for their queen. This does not mean that swarms will not attack if they perceive a threat.

Honeybees no longer easily survive in the wild and therefore it is important to try to save them to ensure their future survival.

We do not charge for our swarm collection service but we are volunteer beekeepers operating as a charity. Donations are much appreciated as they allow us to train the next generation of beekeepers and enable us to offer this service.

 

Disclaimer:
Neither the Wimbledon Division, nor any visiting beekeeper will be responsible for any damage or injury caused by attempting to remove a swarm. By contacting the Wimbledon Division swarm collection service, you are accepting these terms.

 

Taking swarm in tree_edited.jpg
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