Dealing with Honey Bee Swarms

What to do if you find a Swarm?

There are over 250 species of bee in the UK. Firstly you need to ensure you have a honey bee swarm.

The British Beekeepers Association have a web page showing different type of bees. Please use this to identify that the bees you have seen are indeed honey bees.

Swarming is a natural process.  It is 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. Most swarms occur on warm sunny days from May to the end of July usually between 11am – 4pm. Often there is a peak on a fine day after poor weather when temperatures approach the high teens. A real honey bee swarm can be extremely dramatic involving many thousands of bees in a large noisy cloud  However, they normally settle into a cluster within 15 minutes.

Image Courtesy The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Crown Copyright

In Lincolnshire we have a number of swarm collectors who volunteer to collect swarms. The list of swarm collectors can be found on the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) website.

When you call the swarm collector you may be asked to provide the following information

What you have seen or ideally send a picture. Size of cluster/how many (e.g. football size etc.)? Honey bee swarms are thousands not a dozen
Location/access (indoors, outdoors, chimney, etc) and height (e.g. 1st floor, roof top)
How long have they been there
Address/directions/parking including postcode and contact number

Please inform the beekeeper if the swarm leaves before they arrive or if someone else collects it to save a wasted journey. Do not give multiple beekeepers the details once one has agreed to attend.