Honey bee swarms

BBKA Information leaflet for Beekeepers

If you wish to report a swarm please read through to the end.

There are over 250 types of bees in the UK. Beekeepers will only collect Honey Bees.

Public service

Beverley Beekeepers Association offer swarm collection as a public service and are under no obligation to do so. There are many occasions when we are unable to attend or when we do, that we find ‘swarm’ is not honey bees or it is inaccessible to us. We will not work at height and we will not break into the fabric of any buildings.

To help us manage the number of calls we attend please use the following guidance to establish that they are honey bees before calling our Swarm Phone.

Swarm hanging from a tree branch
Swarm at rest

What is a swarm?

A swarm is a natural occurrence and signifies an attempt by a honey bee colony to multiply. Every year the number of bees in a colony will rise and fall. The only way the bees can form new colonies, and thus reproduce as a species, is through the swarming process.

Swarms are not the aggressive killer bee clouds that you may be familiar with from films. Swarms are often discovered ‘at rest’. During this stage the bees cluster together whilst scout bees decide on the swarms future nest site. These bees are usually quite calm having consumed a belly full of honey ready for their new home. It is still a good idea not to disturb them unnecessarily.

In time the scouts will agree upon the final destination and the cluster will take off together and head to their new home. So if left alone a swarm cluster will leave of its own accord. However, do keep in mind that the final destination may be a loft or other space within a building, yours or someone else’s. It is much easier to collect a swarm from a tree branch than from behind bricks!

Swarm collection

Beverley Beekeepers will, when they can, come to your location and remove a swarm of honey bees. The bees will be relocated and continue to be looked after by one of our members from that point on.

Please be aware that this is a voluntary public service and we have no legal requirement or funding provided to carry out this service. If you appreciate this service feel free to donate to the Beverley Beekeepers Association by contacting enquiries@beverleybeekeepers.co.uk. Any donations will assist us in continuing our work educating the public and beekeepers. On rare occasions our members may charge expenses for swarm collection, but never a service fee.

Identifying honey bees

The British Beekeepers Association have a web page showing different type of bees. Please use this to identify that the bees you have seen are indeed honey bees.

You might find this video of a swarm arriving useful. Notice the large number of bees involved. Small numbers of bees are very unlikely to be honeybees.

For bees which are not honeybees you should contact your local council.

Where you find honeybees within your building or at height we recommend Viking Pest Control. Eddy has a strong conservation background and has associations with many wildlife groups and is a member of Beverley BKA.

The swarm phone

If you are confident that you have a honey bee swarm and it is not in a building then you can contact our swarm phone.