Swarms

If you think you have a Honey Bee Swarm and wish for me to help, please read these notes before calling. 

Honey Bees generally swarm because the colony has run out of space in a hive or its nest in a chimney, a hollow in a tree etc. As the Queen lays eggs in the spring and the young bees emerge the colony grows where it may find that it has no more room to expand. The colony produces queen cells to reproduce a new queen with the expectancy that the colony will need to swarm. As the new queen larvae grows to produce a new queen, the old queen and approximately half the colony will swarm 2 or 3 days before the new queen emerges from her cell.  In my experience a colony swarms usually between 10am and 1pm on their chosen day.

Having decided to swarm, the bees will engorge themselves on their honey stores giving themselves 3 days of food whilst they locate a new home. The old queen will vacate the hive/nest flying and taking half the colony with her.  In a large colony up to 30000 honeybees may well be airborne, but normally nearer 10000 bees will have swarmed.  The noise of their flight can be intimidating with 1000’s of bees flying creating a loud buzzing noise. After vacating the hive/nest the queen will land, usually within 50/100 meters from where they originally came from.  Over the next half hour the number of airborne bees will reduce as the colony joins the queen at the spot she has landed. They will cluster around her to protect and give her warmth.  The cluster could be on anything, in a hedge, on a tree, hanging from a branch like a large bunch of grapes. It could be on a fence, a piece of machinery even on your laundry hanging on a washing line.  Once clustered, scout bees will go out searching for a new home. This could take an hour or even 3 days.  The scout bees are searching for a cavity that is suitable for the colony to move into.  Having found a suitable cavity ( an empty hive, a chimney, a compost bin etc. )  The colony with the queen will fly again to their new home.

Should you think you have a swarm, don’t be frightened. Having engorged themselves on honey they are not aggressive, as they have no hive/nest to protect. Yes the noise is intimidating, but don’t panic. Go inside; close your windows and wait.  Shortly things will settle down as the airborne bees join the queen. You should be able to locate where the clustered colony is now. There will be a few bees still flying around where the settled cluster is. Now you have two options – 1. You could leave them and they will move on having found their new home. 2. Call a Beekeeper to remove them.

Before calling a Beekeeper – PLEASE check and confirm they are honey bees – not wasps or bumblebees.  See photo examples – Wasp nests are usually in a loft, a shed corner or even below a hole in the ground. Bumblebee nests are much smaller, under a hedge or under a shed.

NOTHING MORE ANNOYS A BEEKEEPER THAN TO COME OUT TO COLLECT A SWARM TO FIND ITS WASP OR BUMBLEBEE NEST. So please check and having called a Beekeeper, describe to them accurately what you are seeing.

Beekeepers are not builders, so should you find that a colony has decided to make its home in your chimney or in a roof cavity, there is nothing a beekeeper can do if he cannot get access to the colony. If a colony has made its home in your chimney or roof and you still want the bees removed, you will have the expense of scaffolding, a builder etc. to remove the brickwork or roof tiles to enable a beekeeper access.

Beekeepers will not destroy a colony – nor will Pest Control companies/Local Councils

Wasps nest – contact your local Pest Control company.

Bumblebee nest – leave it alone, they wont hurt you. Enjoy seeing them pollinate your flowers in your garden.

Below are photos of a Honey Bee swarm clusters – Wasp Nest – Bumblebee nest

 

Honey Bee Swarm cluster photos

Bumblebee Nest

Wasp Nest

I am able to collect Swarms within 5 miles of Downham Market.   Tel. No. 01366 324346

There is no charge for me to collect an accessible Honey Bee Swarm – however I do charge a call out fee of £80 should on arrival I find your concern is for a wasp’s nest or bumblebee nest.

For those not in West Norfolk, please Google your local Beekeeping Association they will have a page on their website re swarms.