Have you seen a swarm of bees? Are you sure it's bees? What type of bees?! Do you have a swarm in your garden or near your house, and are not sure what to do? Don't panic!
Please see here for more information from the British Beekeeping Association's swarm page about identifying what sort of flying insect you have seen. Additionally, there is a brief introductory guide below to the most commonly sited insects that prompt calls about swarms.
Please read the information available and try to verify that what you have seen is indeed a swarm of honeybees. You will find at the bottom of this page the details of who can be contacted by the public to act as swarm collectors for the area covered by the Roseland Beekeeping Group.
DISCLAIMER: The general public should contact their nearest swarm collector on the list. You will be asked to supply the exact location of the swarm. Some beekeepers may make a charge for removal of a swarm from your garden depending on travelling distances to cover costs of petrol etc. The swarm collectors are acting as individual beekeepers. The BBKA (and, by extension, the CBKA and RBG) is not able to guarantee the beekeepers are competent swarm collectors and cannot accept responsibility for any loss, damage or injury to persons or property resulting from the use of this list – anyone collecting a swarm does so as an individual.
Honeybees: When honeybees swarm, they will usually cluster around the Queen in a bush or on a branch of a tree, although you could find them on a garden bench or inside a chimney. A swarm might seem scary, but they pose no real danger or threat - the bees will not act defensively (ie, sting), because they have nothing to defend. Any of the beekeepers on the swarm list at the bottom of the page will be very happy to collect such a swarm for you, dependent on where it is located.
Bumblebees & Solitary Bees: These wild bees, known and loved by most people, are gentle creatures that tend to build nests which only number in the low hundreds at most. If you happen to discover a nest of bumblebees, or solitary bees, in your garden then consider yourself lucky! The best advise is to leave them alone - they are not dangerous and are not seeking to sting you (some solitary bees don't even have stingers). They probably won't be there for very long as the nests of these species break down at the end of every Summer. However, if they simply must be moved, you may find there are a few beekeepers who would be able to help, rather than see the nest destroyed.
Wasps: When people say they don't like bees because they've been stung in the past, most often it turns out that what they actually dislike and have been stung by is a wasp. These are the pesky creatures who chase after you and try to ruin your picnic in the Summer, in search of their sugar fix. Beekeepers generally dislike them for similar reasons, as they rob beehives of honey and can kill both bees and their larvae. Wasp nests are generally rounded and made of a substance similar to paper, and will last for a single year. Whilst no beekeeper will wish to collect a wasp nest, you may find a few who are willing to help dispose of one.
Hornets: These are the real bullies of the bee-related world! Hornets are a potential menace for a honeybee colony, due to their size and aggressive nature - they can easily kill bees and decimate a colony.
Whilst (lighter coloured) European Hornets are always a potential menace for Honeybees, the invasion by the (darker coloured) Asian Hornet is now unfortunately very real. There are several confirmed sightings each year in various locations across the UK, often spotted and reported by members of the public.
RBG are proactively facing this increased threat, with the formation of a local Asian Hornet Action Team (AHAT), led by Carol Morrison. If you discover a hornet nest and think it may be Asian Hornets, then please notify RBG, CBKA, or another organisation such as BBKA or the Environment Agency, as soon as possible.
SWARMS - who to contact
To find a local swarm collector, please visit the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) Swarm Removal page:
Step 3 on the page, ‘Find a local swarm collector’ takes you to an address/postcode search box once you have read steps 1-2 to check that it definitely is a honey bee swarm. The beekeepers on the list have indicated their willingness to collect swarms of honey bees.