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
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
Peter Field mob: 07739 936 309
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!
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.