Covid 19 – We’re still here to help with swarms!
What to do if you have a swarm in the East Devon area.
Please contact one of our swarm collectors from the list below who operates in your post code area. Alternatively, go to the British Beekeepers interactive swarm page to find the nearest beekeeper.
|Post Code Area||Beekeeper||Home||Landline||Mobile|
|EX5||David Palfrey||Whimple||01404 823 750|
|EX8, EX9||Bryan Stewart||Lympstone||01395 263 097||07828 675 571|
|EX5, EX10, EX11||Nick Silver||West Hill||01404 812 478||07834 483 910|
|EX10, EX12||Ralph Cox||Branscombe||01297 680 392|
|EX10, EX12, EX13, EX24, DT7||Richard Simpson||Colyton||07900 492 242|
|EX12, EX13||David Shale||Musbury||01297 552 999||07871 846 415|
|EX12||Ann Pengelly||Axmouth||01297 214 43||07979 013 641|
|EX13||Peter Field||Hawkchurch||07739 936 309|
|EX13, EX14, EX24||Alasdair Bruce||Stockland||01404 881 589||07479 474 392|
|EX13||Peter Weller||Churchill||01297 325 23||07989 685 983|
|EX13||David Chambers||Hawkchurch||01297 678 686|
|EX14||Rob Sorrell||Awliscombe||07887 710 629|
|EX14||Nigel Boulton||Weston||07730 926 809|
|EX14||Iain Morison||Wilmington||01404 830 035|
|EX14, EX15||Stan Wroe||Broadhembury||01404 841 323||07925 549 443|
|DT7, DT6, EX13||Colin Osborne||Uplyme||01297 443 915|
|TA20||Maurice Wakeling||Chard||01460 646 53|
This is what a swarm of honeybees looks like!
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.
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.
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.