If you've discovered a swarm and would like it moved, then you may be able to get help from the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA). Within our Association, we have a number of members registered with the BBKA and are willing to collect honey bee swarms for you.
It may interest you to know that honey bees are frequently mistaken for other bees or wasps and some of our members may be prepared to discuss with you what they are and perhaps give you advice. Although wasps and hornets are regarded as pests and can thus be destroyed by a Pest Controller, honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees may be protected and not usually destroyed other than in exceptional circumstances.
Bees coming out of a hole in the ground at this time of the year are almost always Bumble bees. Please try and live with them, they are valuable pollinators and rarely cause a problem. They are not aggressive. If the hole is near a door way or somewhere really inconvenient, try putting a piece of drain pipe over the hole so that the bees will exit higher up and then they will be far less of a nuisance.
Bumble bees vary considerably in size depending on the species. Some are as small as honey bees and some larger. They are also different colours, with some having buff or white 'tails' and some orangey-brown. If you see fairly large numbers of different sized and coloured bees on a shrub or plant that is in flower, this will almost certainly NOT be a swarm of honey bees but will be various types of bumble bees, perhaps with some honey bees, some solitary bees and some wasps, all feeding. They will probably disperse in the evening and return for several days all the while the plant is producing nectar and/or pollen.
Many of our members may be prepared to discuss with you over the phone what kind of insects you are worried about but we are generally very reluctant to try and move bumble bee nests as so often the bees get damaged in the process.
Bumble bee nests only last the summer. By August the colony will be past its peak, and numbers will be falling. During this period new young queens and drones (males) will emerge and mate. These new queens will find a suitable spot to hibernate for the winter, emerging again in the early spring to start the cycle again. The nest will die out in late summer.
Honey bees do not normally attack indiscriminately, but will probably protect their colony if provoked. However, a swarm is usually good natured because they've had to "fill up" with honey to keep themselves alive until they've sorted out a new place to live. At least, that's what they're supposed to do. Therefore, it is a good idea to practice the items below if you come across a swarm:-
- Watch from a safe distance.
- Keep children and animals away.
- Do not poke, throw things at, or otherwise antagonise the swarm (you may get stung).
- Contact the nearest beekeeper from the list below.
To find the closest swarm collector to you, please go to the BBKA website and check the information to ensure that you have honey bees. Click here to check if you have a honey bee swarm. Once you are happy that you have honey bees, click on Find a Local Swarm Collector and enter your post code.
Please be aware that many of our beekeepers are in full time employment and are not always able to respond immediately. It is also likely that a nominal charge will be made to carry this service. The reasons are that, the member is likely to have to make one, or possibly two, journeys in order to remove the swarm. Also, the bees will have to be housed, fed and screened for disease, all of which costs money. You will have to discuss with the member concerned as to what the charge will be, but expect something in the region of £25.