Get rid of bees - I have a swarm of bees
I have a swarm of bees, help!
If you have a swarm of honey bees which have suddenly arrived, please do not panic and rush out to kill them.
There are plenty of beekeepers available who are more than willing to come out and collect your swarm. You can then congratulate yourself in playing a part to save our honey bees.
If you have a bee swarm that needs removing, please take a look at our
list of bee swarm collectors
Why do bees swarm?
To understand Honey bees swarms and their need to relocate we need to understand their behaviour and what is happening within a colony.
It is also useful to be able to identify a swarm of bees. The following image shows a typical honey bee swarm hanging from a tree branch.
Unlike wasps and hornets, bees swarm at a certain time of year, this is in the spring/early summer and the reason why they do this is due to the colony becoming too large for the space that it is occupying. If the hive or nest starts to become overcrowded as the numbers of individuals start to grow, then the hive produces new queen cells and this is the first sign that a colony is about to swarm. Most beekeepers are aware of this and try to stop it from happening, but occasionally for one reason or another, a colony will swarm. The original queen will leave the nest or hive and take about half of the worker bees with her. They are looking to set up a new home and start a new colony.
Honey Bee Swarm hanging from branch?
Very often these swarms will land on a tree and can be seen hanging from a branch, they may land on your house or roof, in fact anywhere. This is just temporary, they have sent worker bees out to look for a suitable place to start a new nest, and once this new place has been found the swarm will relocate to it. When a swarm behaves in this manner, the original nest or hive is usually very close by. So if you find yourself with a bee swarm on your property, our advice would be to try and contact your local beekeeper, this swarm is almost guaranteed to be from one of his hives.
Normally a swarm will not stay longer than a day or two, then it will move on to it’s new home.
Need a bee swarm removed?
The first piece of good news is: when Bees swarm in this fashion, they are very unlikely to sting or attack, in fact when they swarm like this they are in a really good mood and they have no nest or hive to defend.
The second piece of good news is: Bees can be relocated and bee swarms can be removed.
We have a list of bee swarm removers in the UK that may be able to help you if you have a swarm arrive on your property.
Most beekeepers are more than happy to come along and take a swarm away. In the majority of cases the process is fairly quick and involves locating the queen within the swarm. If the swarm is hanging from a branch or bush, then the process involves gently shaking the swarm into a basket, then placing the basket on the ground. Any bees that are not contained within the swarm will very quickly navigate towards the pheromone that the queen emits and within half an hour or so the process is complete, the bees can then be secured for transport and their safe removal can be completed.
In the majority of cases where the queen can be accessed then the swarm can be taken away. The problems start when the bees have taken up residence in an awkward to reach location.
Get rid of bees
If you are unfortunate enough to have a swarm take up residence within a cavity wall or you need to get rid of bees in some other difficult location whereby the queen cannot be retrieved then unfortunately the only course of action is to destroy the colony. This is done in a similar way as we would Destroy a wasp nest. However, there some other factors to be taken into consideration when treating bees, for example: if a bee colony has taken up residence within a cavity wall, it is recommended that the honey comb is removed and any entrances to the effected area must (by law) be blocked. This is to prevent contamination of any other bee colonies that are local to the area.
You can read further information about bee treatments.
So a bee treatment may not be so straight forward as it may appear, every situation is different, talk to your local pest controller and seek his advice. We prefer to try every option available to relocate where possible.
There has been some success retrieving colonies from cavity walls using a one way valve (the bees can come out, but they cannot get back in) but this is a new method and still being tested. If this proves to be effective then we will adopt this method over the coming seasons.
Bees are in decline due to a variety of reasons and whenever they can be saved then we should make every effort to do so.
Bees which have nested in other locations can sometimes be extracted. This is known as a "cut out". An example would be where a colony has nested in a shed between the inner wall and outer wood cladding. In such a situation, the cladding can be removed exposing the honey comb and the whole colony can be extracted and re-homed elsewhere.
A few pest controllers are now turning to a relatively new device called a bee vac. This is exactly what it says on the tin. A modified vacuum cleaner designed to collect bees without harming them. Bee vacuums are being used more extensively in the removal of honey bee colonies as it is a much quicker way of collecting the bees.
What does a honey bee nest look like?
Unlike wasps, honey bees make their nests from wax which is produced by the bees themselves. The production of wax is started by foraging bees collecting nectar from plants and flowers which is transported back to the nest or hive where it is transferred to house bees (young bees). This nectar is either stored in the honey comb for future use or if more honey comb is needed they use the nectar as a fuel source to produce wax which is emitted from glands on their bodies.
It takes about 8 pounds of nectar/honey to produce 1 pound of beeswax.
Most honey bee colonies in the UK are kept in hives by beekeepers. This wasn't always the case and a few decades ago before the invasion of the Varoa mite, the UK had a thriving population of wild bee colonies.
Honey bees which are kept in hives are provided artificial frames on which to make their honey combs. These frames have a wax foundation sheet attached to the frame to help the bees start the comb. The hexagonal shape of each cell is embossed into the wax to get things moving along quickly.
In the summer when there is a lot of nectar about and a colony is strong, a single frame can be fully drawn out to a full working comb overnight.
As you can see from the images, an artificial honey comb is in a square/rectangular shape.
Wild honey combs are more rounded.
Wild honey bee nest.