Advice on Swarms


  • Do NOT attempt to deal with the bees yourself.
  • Do not disturb them.
  • Keep your windows closed and watch from inside.


Swarm Collection

For swarm advice and collection please contact our Co-ordinator:

Sue Ryan                          01895 464108

(see further below for other contact details in case you are unable to contact the number above or have not had a callback after leaving a message – but you will get a speedier response through our co-ordinator)

We will ask you some questions to make sure we can identify your bees.  We also need to know where the swarm has settled to see how accessible it is.  If we don’t think they are honeybees we may be able to offer advice as to what you may be able to do.

If it is a swarm of honeybees and you are local to us then we will put you in touch with one of our experienced beekeepers who can remove the swarm safely and find a new home for the bees. Your local Council (Environmental Health), Police Station or Library should also have a list of beekeepers that will collect swarms.

We do not make a charge for this (unless there is an excessive traveling cost involved); however,a donation to help our association would be gratefully received.  You may be asked to sign a disclaimer form but as with all small print, read it first!

We do sometimes get asked to collect a swarm from a chimney or other high or risky locations – we are not equipped or trained for such situations although we may be able to advise you on next steps.  

Please remember many of us have full time jobs and families and may not be able to come straight away.

(If you are unable to reach Sue, then the following may be able to assist: 
Dave Norris 01895 253525, Jonathon Norris 01895 832075, Alastair Fischbacher 07973 204370)

Check our Bee and other Insects page if you are not sure

Are they about 1/2 inch in size and mostly brown?



There may be a football size (or bigger) mass of bees hanging on a branch in a bush/ tree/ clinging to a fence post/ under the eaves/ in an attic. They can land anywhere!  Are there 20 or more seen at any one time flying in and out of a small hole?

We get many calls to remove honeybee swarms but often they are not! A swarm of honeybees will contain many thousands of bees.

Wasps, bumblebees and solitary bees do not swarm.
Study the photographs on our other bees and insects page. If you spot some of these then there will be a nest nearby. Wasps can be dealt with by a pest control company.  Bumblebees and solitary bees are best left alone to live out their short lives.

Honeybees (and bumblebees) are protected species.
A swarm is unlikely to be a threat to people but it is important to prevent them from setting up a new home in an unsuitable location, such as a shed or attic where they might come into conflict with people and pets.

What will the Beekeeper do?
It depends on the situation every one is different but essentially the bees will be persuaded to go into a suitable sized container as a temporary home. The container might be a wooden or cardboard box or even a traditional straw skep.  The container may be left until the evening so that all the flying bees have time to get in the box. The beekeeper will then come back to take them to their new beehive.

Swarms and Collection

Bees dropped into the box. Box placed on ground and rest of bees followed in.



Swarms usually occur in the spring and early summer, as colonies divide. This is the bees’ natural process of reproduction which has been happening for millions of years, to both wild and apiary kept bees.

Swarming bees may sound and look frightening but they are generally in a holiday mood and are unlikely to be aggressive if left undisturbed. They are mostly harmless because they have no home to defend and are only intent on finding a new one. Once they have left their original home, they are vulnerable to the weather and to predators, so they cluster around their Queen to keep warm, dry and safe. They have only the food that they carry in their stomachs.

The swarm will remain in its temporary position for a few hours, perhaps a couple of days, while scout bees go out to seek a suitable new permanent home then the swarm will fly off.

Swarms can buzz alarmingly, but this is usually just the noise that is made when the bee’s vibrate their wing muscles to keep warm. This cluster will usually find somewhere to hang, a branch, the eaves of a house, a fencepost or even a porch. It will be somewhere between the size of melon and a pumpkin.

Swarm collectors will aim to relocate honeybees where possible but unfortunately cannot do that for bumblebees or solitary bees.

Quite often the ‘bees’ will turn out to be wasps which will have to be dealt with by a pest control company.

If they are bumblebees or solitary bees they are usually non-aggressive and best left alone to live out their short lives. Bumblebees usually have about 200 bees in their nest and they would die out around September.

If the bumblebees are in a bird box it could be possible to move them to a different area in your garden. To relocate them a long distance away from your garden is really a no-no as they rarely survive.
Check out this link to see how to move them.

If the bumblebees are in an attic, it would be impossible to relocate them.

Please remember that honeybees and bumblebees are protected species. They both are excellent pollinators.