Identifying a honey bee swarm

Think you have a Honey Bee Swarm?

Use the following information to help you decide what it is you see and what to do about it.

We DO NOT deal with Bumble Bees, Wasps, Hornets or Flies. Every year we get a large number of calls for sightings that are not honey bees. This wastes everyone’s time as we can only deal with honey bees. The swarm phone is unnecessarily occupied (it is run by, sometimes frazzled, volunteers), making it busy for other callers, you will not have your problem dealt with and the beekeeper who may attend will have made a wasted journey. Please do take the time to make a confident decision of whether you do actually have a honey bee swarm.

Beekeepers are not employed by anyone to remove or deal with Honey Bee swarms.  A Beekeeper may ask for some payment to cover resources used in the collection of a swarm.  You will be informed of any possible expenses prior to a visit by a Beekeeper. Beekeepers only collect safely accessible Honey Bee Swarms.

Bumble bees

Are they round and hairy?  Do they have a Yellow, White or Orange band at the tail/rump?  Do they make a loud buzzing sound when flying?  Do they bumble around when flying? Are they living in any kind of small box, under decking or a shed, in a compost heap or a hole in the ground?

Solitary bees

Are they round and hairy?  Are they smaller than Bumble Bees? Do they make a quiet buzzing when flying?  Do they have a black or orange/brown rump? Are they living in a small cavity, tube, under decking or a shed or a hole in the ground?


Are they Black with Bright Yellow stripes or Bright Yellow with Black stripes?  Do they have Yellow legs?  Do they appear smooth or with little hair?  Are they appearing from a roof space, air brick, large hole in the ground or a round nest nest hanging in a tree or shrub?  Do they make a high pitch buzz?  Are they interested in sugary foods?


Are they BIG with a loud buzz?  Are they Black & Yellow at the back & Black with Orange/Brown at the front?
Do they have a long curved tail?  Are they living in a roof space, shed or tree cavity?

See special note on Asian Hornets which are an invasive non-native species which should be reported when spotted.


Do they Hover in a single position?  Do they make a very low humming sound?  Do they sometimes appear in large numbers?  Black with Yellow or White or Orange stripes?  Don’t appear to live anywhere in particular?

Honey bees

Do they have light brown, golden brown or dark brown bands? Does there appear to be many thousands hanging in a clump? Is this clump hanging from a tree, shrub, roof, fencing or post? Are there many hundreds flying around or to/from the clump?

Once you have identified that you do have a honey bee swarm you can progress to our swarm phone page.

If you do find a honey bee swarm please do not disturb it.