First of all, don’t panic! A honey bee swarm is not to be feared. Swarming is the honey bee’s method of reproducing. The colony splits, half departing with the queen. Upon leaving they are much less defensive having left behind their nest, brood (baby bees), queen cells and stored food (honey and pollen). It is wise, however, to keep a safe distance.
Before contacting a beekeeper it is necessary to determine what you are looking at. If you are unfamiliar with insects and their differences honey bees, bumblebees, wasps, hornets and other yellow and black flying insects can cause confusion. Please consult the images below to confirm you are looking at a honey bee swarm before contacting a beekeeper.
Honey bees will begin swarming by flying in their thousands to a temporary location where they will settle into a cluster. Swarms may hang on branches or settle on a wall or fence post but they may in fact cluster anywhere that suits them. They may not appear very active, but if you continue to observe you will see bees coming and going as they plan their final journey to a new nesting site (or a beekeeper’s hive).
It is important that you do not disturb the cluster and call a beekeeper as soon as you can.
To find swarm collectors in your area, enter your postcode into the swarm collector map below.
Beekeepers are only allowed to collect honey bee swarms and may not be trained to handle other insects. Please note, swarm collectors can only enter a property with the consent of the owner/tenant and may not be able to assist where the bees are inaccessible, such as in a chimney flue or a wall cavity. In situations such as these a specialist bee control and removal service will need to be called. It is best to supply the beekeeper with as much information as possible about the swarm to prevent surprises.