about

swarming

"Only the Honeybee swarms"

The sight of honeybees swarming can be both a terrifying and exciting spectacle to witness during the swarming season from mid April through to end of July.  Swarming is part of their natural process of procreation by which the old queen and around 50% of her colony leave the hive to set up a new home elsewhere.  In a prime swarm, there may well be up to 30,000 individuals.  The swarm will typically gather nearby in a cluster surrounding the queen and will remain calm in this state whilst the scouts continue their task of finding a new home.  They leave behind newly emerging virgin queens to take over the old colony.

Before reporting that you have a swarm, please use our checklist below to attempt identification.  Beekeepers will not normally attend if the insects that are causing nuisance are bumblebees, wasps or hornets.

Swarm Checklist

Do you have a picture?

A picture is worth a thousand words and may be invaluable to your beekeeper.  Whenever possible and if it is safe to do so, please take a picture to send to your beekeeper.  This will help the beekeeper to establish what is required to facilitate the safe removal of the bees.

Are the insects in the fabric of a building?

If the answer is "Yes", then whatever the insects may be, beekeepers are not insured to undertake removal that may involve structural alteration to a property.  This must be undertaken by local Pest Control who will destroy the nest of insects.  Whatever method is used to destroy the nest, the access point must be made secure in order to prevent future incursions.

Are the insects in a birdbox?

If the answer is "Yes", then these are not honeybees and are likely to be the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum).  Wait until evening and then carefully block up the entrance with some foam or a rag.  Then remove the birdbox and place somewhere else in the garden where they will not be a nuisance.  Unblock the entrance after they have been relocated and immediately retreat from the area.  The bees will then re-orientate themselves to this new location.  These bees will all die off in late summer.

Beekeepers are unable to assist with the removal of these insects.

Are the insects in the ground?

These are likely to be either wasps, hornets, solitary bees, or bumblebees and are not usually a nuisance unless you are disturbing them.  They will often use rodent holes or compost heaps in which they make their nest.

Beekeepers are unable to assist with the removal of these insects.

Are the insects "Roly Poly" looking?

Very likely these are our native bumblebees and are important pollinators.  They will have a small nest made from wax in which there will be no more than a couple of hundred bees.  As with other bumblebees, new queens will hibernate until the following year and the remaining colony will all die away in late summer.  So best left alone if they are not a nuisance.

Is the nest paper machie?

Honeybees don't make paper machie nests so these are likely to be wasps of hornets.  Wasps are important pollinators and garden pest controllers and are not normally a nuisance early in the year.  If you have disturbed their nest then they may become aggressive.  They can be more of a nuisance in late summer when they are looking for sweet sugary fixes to satisfy their needs.

Beekeepers are unable to assist with the removal of these insects.

Are they vivid yellow and black?

These flying insects are more than likely wasps or hornets and will become aggressive if disturbed.  Both are important pollinators and as efficient predators, they are responsible for the destruction of billions of tonnes of pests each year in the UK.  Without them, our gardens would suffer from many pests.

Beekeepers are unable to assist with the removal of these insects.  If they have become a serious nuisance, contact your local Pest Controller.

Are the insects gathered in a cluster?

These are likely to be honeybees and provided they are accessible, your beekeeper may be able to safely remove them from your property.

 

A typical cluster can be the size of a rugby ball or much larger. Honeybees in this state at usually very calm and non-aggressive as they have nothing to defend.  If the cluster is located in shrubbery, then with your permission the beekeeper may need to moderately prune some branches to gain access.

If the bees cannot be safely removed, then they will naturally move away within a few days once a suitable home has been found by the scout bees.

Pest Controllers will not remove honeybees in this state.

Swarm Removal

If you still think you have a honeybee swarm and live in the Selby and district area, you can contact us and send a picture using the email link below.  Providing the bees are accessible, we will remove them for you and relocate them.

Alternately, you can find your nearest registered swarm collector here or your nearest Pest Controllers here.

Honeybee swarm removal is free service provided by beekeepers although some may request reasonable travel expenses.

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