Swarm Collection

What is a Swarm?
 
When a hive becomes overcrowded the queen will leave with a large number of the flying bees - this is a swarm.
 
They will usually swarm in Spring or Summer, on a fine day, and the swarm could contain several thousand bees. You may see them hanging in a cluster in a tree or bush, with the queen in the centre, while scout bees go off to look for a new home. They may stop several times before they find somewhere suitable (or they may find a home straight away) and could stay for a few hours or a few days. They will be very calm and less likely to sting straight after they have swarmed as they will have gorged themselves on honey ready for the journey, but will get more aggressive the more days they have been away from the hive as they will be getting hungry. 
 
Types of new home could be: inside roof spaces; behind facia boards and soffits; between ceiling and floor boards; wall cavities; sheds; garages; out buildings; compost bins.
 
Only honeybees swarm, bumble bees and wasps do not.
 
 
Is it a Honeybee? 
 
If it is large, round and furry it is likely to be a Bumble Bee.
 
Bumble bees live in smaller colonies than honeybees and like to make their nests in cavities, usually in the ground or in a compost heap.  They may also nest in bird boxes or under the eaves of a house, but will be gone when Winter comes. They are very docile and rarely sting. Bumble bees are important pollinators and are under threat of extinction so should be left alone if possible.
 
  
 
 
Wasps are bright yellow with black stripes and have a high pitched buzz.  A wasp nest looks like a papery ball (sometimes reaching the size of a football) and could be suspended in a tree, shed, roof, or other cavity.  It will be abandoned in the Winter.  Wasps like sweet, sugary things and do not need much provocation to sting.
 
It is best to contact an experienced pest controller to get rid of wasps.
 
 
 

If there are lots of small bees popping in and out of the wall or very small holes in the ground they are probably Solitary Bees.  They are likely to have a reddy/brown bottom or be almost black. Solitary bees are harmless and live more or less alone. They aren't interested in you and should be left alone.  

 
 
 
Honeybees are about 1/2 an inch in length and vary in colour from golden brown to almost black. You may also be able to hear a low hum come from the swarm if you get close enough.

 

 

Collecting a Swarm
Once you have identified that you have a honeybee swarm it is time to contact us.
If the swarm is hanging in a bush, or not too high up in a tree, it is fairly straightforward to collect.  We will hold a box underneath the swarm and carefully cut away the branches that the swarm is attached to. The swarm should then drop gently into the box which we can seal up and take away to rehome.  There will still be a few bees flying around but these will eventually leave once they realise that the queen has gone.
Not all swarms are as easy to collect. We have collected swarms from compost bins, on the ground and spread over tree branches where we couldn't cut them down. In these cases we have had to brush the bees into a box, or empty hive, or pick up handfuls of them to move them.  Once we have the queen where we want her, providing she doesn't escape, we have to wait until all the other bees have joined her - this may not be until it is almost dark.  We can then seal up the hive, or box, and take the bees away. Sometimes it may be neccessary for us to wait quite a while until most of the bees have stopped flying, or we may need to set up our equipment and go away, then return just before dark hoping that the bees have stayed in the box.
 
We do not collect swarms from property for insurance reasons, but this fact sheet from the BBKA gives a lot of useful information.
 
                                                                                           Collecting a swarm using a skep