What to do
In the unlikely event that you do come across a swarm, please do not try to remove the swarm yourself. Rather, call your local county or division of the British Beekeeping Association and a swarm collector will come out as soon as possible. If you are based in Sussex, then please contact us.
Do note that the quicker the call is made, the better: the sooner a swarm collector comes out, the less time the colony has time to settle. It’s a free service.
How do I know it’s a honeybee swarm
Please be aware that the first thing a swarm collector will ask when called is whether you are sure it’s a honeybee swarm, and not bumblebees, wasps or even solitary bees. Beekeepers will only collect honeybee swarms.
For the purposes of identification, do note that bees swarm in their thousands, and that the swarm season occurs April through to July, peaking in the months of May and June. When hanging, honeybees tend to cluster in a tear-shape. When on a post or any other upright, they’ll string themselves along it. To look at, honeybees are not yellow, but rather range from an orangey golden-brown through to black.
Do note that bumblebees and wasps do not swarm, and leave their nests in the autumn.
A swarming bee is at its most docile
Given that they stock up on honey for the trip, honeybees are much heavier than might usually be, and especially docile. Often they will be led by an old queen, unused to flying, and will need to rest, which accounts for sightings of swarms temporarily clustered in unusual places.
What happens to the swarm
It’s highly unlikely that a colony will survive in the wild. For this reason, the collected swarm will be introduced to a working apiary, in a beehive tended by a trained beekeeper. Having the swarm collected by a swarm collector ensures that you’re free of the swarm, and that the bees are protected.