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What to do if you have a swarm.

Please contact one of our swarm collectors from the list below who operates in your post code area. Alternatively, go to our contacts page.

For further detailed information on swarms visit the British Beekeepers Association website by clicking on the following link:     British Beekeepers swarm advice

Exmouth area   EX3, EX8, EX9
Bryony Hewson    mob:  07980 271 177
Dan Hewson         mob:  07800 853 112

Ottery, West Hill, Sidmouth  EX5, EX8, EX9, EX10, EX11
John Badley           tel:  01404 814 852
Nick Silver              tel:  01404 812 478,  mob:  07834 483 910

Honiton  EX14
Colin Sherwood    tel:  01404 42130
Payhembury, Honiton  EX14
Keith Bone             tel:  01404 841 629

Axminster & Colyton  EX10, EX12, EX13, EX24, DT7
Richard Simpson   tel:  07900 492 242

Hawkchurch  EX13
Peter Field             mob:  07739 936 309
Membury  EX13
Simon Foster         tel:  01404 881 787
Membury  EX13, EX14, EX24
Alasdair Bruce       tel:  01404 881 589

Uplyme  DT7, DT6, EX13
Colin Osborne       tel:  01297 443 915

This is what a swarm of honeybees looks like!

Look alikes!

Other insects can sometimes be confused with honey bees.  Bumble bees, solitary bees, wasps, hornets and hover flies may have similar yellow and brown marking but will not be present in such large numbers as honey bees in a swarm.


The honey bee

This is the honey bee. Note the furry body that attracts pollen grains. The bee brushes pollen into the pollen baskets on the back legs and takes it back to the hive.


The hoverfly

The small yellow and black hoverfly can be mistaken for a bee as it often frequents the same flowers for nectar. A good insect for gardeners as the hoverfly grubs eat greenfly.


Bumble bees

There are twenty-two species of bumble bee in the UK, usually large and furry with distinctive bands of coloured hairs. This one is the white tailed bumblebee.


Queen wasps

These two queen wasps are feeding on ivy. The worker wasps are smaller with similar yellow and black patterns. They can predate on honeybees.


European hornet queen

At 3½cm long the European hornet queen is bigger than any similar insect you are likely to see in the UK. The workers are smaller with similar markings.

Asian hornet

Asian hornet

The Asian hornet is not yet established in the UK but may be in the future. Note the yellow legs and the single broad yellow band near the tail.


Honey bees do not nest in the ground so insects coming and going from burrows will not be honeybees. See ‘Bees in Nest Boxes’ below.

Bees in Nest Boxes

We are increasingly finding bees in nest boxes in East Devon.  These bees are more than likely to be Tree Bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum) which are a relatively new species in this area.  They are between 10 and 14mm long, have rust / orange coloured hairs on the upper part of the body and a whitish tail.

Bombus hypnorum

They pollinate all kinds of fruit, flowers and vegetables so, if possible, try to leave well alone.They will vacate the nest box at the end of the season.


The Swarming Process
Swarming is a natural process by which bees multiply their colonies. Usually a swarm will emerge from the hive and land on a nearby branch, bush or post, or even under the eaves of a roof, where they will form a large hanging cluster of bees.

They will send out a few scout bees, who will look for a new site to build their home. Whilst waiting for the scout bees to complete their task, the swarm is normally docile as all the bees have taken on stores of food for the journey and they need to conserve supplies.

The swarm will stay in the cluster for a period of time that may be as short as a few minutes, or may be hours or even days. Finally, when the swarm has decided where its new home will be they will take to the air and fly off in the right direction.

If the cluster is within reach then a beekeeper may be able to capture the swarm in a skep or box and take them to an apiary where they can be housed in a hive. Once the swarm has moved off to their new home it may be more difficult to capture them.

‘Hiving’ a swarm

This photo shows a swarm being ‘hived’ by emptying them onto a cloth sloping up to their new front door.

Bees will naturally climb upwards and seek a dark cavity. At first all is confusion, then they turn and head up the slope and disappear into the hive!

If you’re lucky you may see the queen among the throng. Once the queen has taken up residence you can be fairly certain the swarm will not fly off again.



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Recent update = Events page (summer programme)

Recent update = Asian Hornet Meetings page

News & Events

Nosema Testing at Hunthay Apiary
Please note that on Thursday 12th April between 1000 & 1230 there will be an opportunity for you to test your bees for Nosema.
Members should bring samples (c.30 bees) from each hive.
Calling Notice for the rescheduled Devon Beekeepers’ Association Annual General Meeting
Download details: DBKA Calling Notice 2018
Please note that the Raffle Draw for the cedar wood hive donated by National Bee Supplies will take place on 7th April, so still time to buy tickets if you wish.
BBKA documents fyi
Spring Convention
Note: Now rescheduled for April 7th at Meldon Village Hall
Devon Beekeepers Day Raffle Prize!
Dear Member,
You will recall I gave details of the Devon Beekeepers Day in your February Buzz. We now have the raffle tickets available for the National hive kindly being donated by National Bee Supplies. Tickets can only be purchased by members and are priced at £2 each. See your emails for details of how to purchase raffle tickets.Proceeds from the raffle go to the Presidents Fund which in turn helps to support bee related projects throughout the county.The beekeepers day on March 3rd promises to be an interesting event (your February Beekeeping magazine has all the details) – so come along if you can. Regards, Val

Gove – UK will back total ban on bee harming pesticides Click link to see details

Asian Hornet in North Devon
The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in North Devon which was spotted by a beekeeper in their apiary on the 18th September 2017. The contingency response has been initiated and a press release has been issued by Defra.