The London Beekeepers' Association




We are grateful to Ashurst for sponsoring our forage-creation programmme.

Please contact us if you'd like to find out how you can support our education, training and forage-creation projects.

   

Swarms

Don't panic! Swarms aren't dangerous if left alone. It's a perfectly natural thing for healthy honey bee colonies to do in May, June and July, in which half the bees leave to start a new colony.

But please note that we can only deal with swarms of honeybees, like in the pictures above. Anything that doesn't look like these pictures are unlikely to be swarms of honeybees. We cannot deal with:

  • Wasps. They have smooth slender bodies, are bright yellow and black (see photo below), can be quite aggressive and are attracted to sugary things. They never forms swarms. If they are out of the way and don't disturb people they can be safely left - they will nest elsewhere next year. If they are a nuisance, a pest control company will be able to remove them for you.
  • Bumble bees. Large are furry and live in small colonies of 50 or so, often in cracks in walls or in holes in the ground (see photo below). They also never swarm - if you see them, coming in and out or a hole in the wall or ground they have a nest they and with generally just mind their own business. Our advice is to leave them if at all possible. They are not aggressive, live in very small colonies, rarely sting and will be gone by summer. They are important pollinators and many species are declining so we hope you will be able to live with them.
  • Solitary bees. As the name suggests, live on their own, often in cracks a walls. Again, these are important pollinators, are harmless and will be gone by the end of summer. They are nothing to worry about.
  • Nesting honey bees. If you see a steady stream of bees coming in and out of a hole in a wall or tree - and they are not bumble bees, these are likely to be nesting honey bees. Swarms always look like the photos above. It is extremely difficult to remove bees once they've established themselves. If they are a problem, we may be able to help.

We recommend working through this guide to establish whether they are honeybees.

Please note that swarms compromise hundreds of flying bees which quickly form a tight cluster around their queen. Once settled on a tree, shrub, wall or post, scout bees investigate places to live. When a suitable place is found, the swarm will leave for their new home. Swarms may hang around for several days until this happens.

We will come and collect swarms but will only collect swarms of honey bees.

Once you've established these are honey bees, look up your local swarm collector.

We will come to collect swarms of honey bees, but remember that we are all volunteers with day-jobs, so please be patient. We do not charge for this service. Evenings are the best time to collect swarms. Swarms are not dangerous if left alone, but please try and keep people away from the area as a precaution.

The following pictures are not honey bees (mouseover for more details).

For those interested in how beekeepers collect swarms, the following videos should give you an idea:

 




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