Honey Bee

How to identify honey bees:

 

  • Do they have golden brown or dark brown bands, maybe even black in appearance?
  • Are they slightly furry?
  • Are they formed in a clump hanging from a tree, gate post, chimney?
  • Are there thousands of them swirling around in the air?
  • Are they the same size as a house fly?

If yes: These are honey bees!

 

Honey bees are what beekeepers deal with, and they come in colonies of more than 10,000 bees (clustered together about the shape & size of a rugby ball!) so you’d definitively know if you have a swarm of honey bees. A full colony will number 50—60,000 bees and will take up residence in a cavity of between 30 and 50 litres.  The swarm may look like this:

We can collect honey bees but only if they are readily accessible and it is safe to do so. This usually rules out working high up or in loft spaces. We are all volunteer amateur beekeepers and our insurance does not cover us to remove swarms in unaccessible or unsafe areas.

Swarming:

  • 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.
  • Expect to be asked for a photo if you ring a beekeeper. 
  • Swarming bees usually don’t sting but it is wise to stay away from the swarm and keep children & pets indoors
  • 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.
  • Beekeepers have to consider their own safety; it may not be possible to remove a swarm from difficult-to-reach places.
  • Please call the beekeeper again to let them know if the swarm flies off or is collected by someone else.

 

The beekeeper will need to know where the swarm is and how long it has been there.  A few questions you are likely to be asked:

  • Describe what you have seen or ideally send a picture.
  • Size of cluster/how many (e.g. football size etc. – remember honey bee swarms are thousands not a dozen)?
  • Location/access/parking (indoors, outdoors, chimney, etc)?
  • Height (e.g. 1st floor, roof top)?
  • How long have they been there?
  • Have you called anyone else?
  • Address/location/directions/parking including postcode?
  • Contact number?

 

Things to know

  • Collecting a swarm is normally a 2 part process...
    • Part one – to get the bees into a box.
    • Part two - to return in the evening to remove bees and box.
  • Some beekeepers may ask for expenses.
  • If on arrival we find that it is not honey bees we are unlikely to be able to help.
  • Most honey bee swarms are not aggressive but please do keep away.
  • Honey bee swarming is natural and the bees are just looking for a new home.
  • Swarm collection is done by volunteer beekeepers at their own discretion.