Based in Canterbury, Kent, I will undertake swarm removals within a ten mile radius.
Please use the contact form below to send me an email – I should respond within an hour.
What is a swarm?
A swarm is part of the natural life-cycle of the bee. An existing colony sends off some of its members to found a new colony. They clump together in the open while they “decide” where to live permanently. They do not usually stay more than 48 hours and can easily be scooped up and taken away, provided their location is accessible.
Why do bees swarm?
Swarming is a vital part of the honeybee reproduction process and is usually a response to overcrowding in the hive. A proportion of the bees leave the colony with the queen to find a new place to get established. Without swarming there would be no new bee colonies, and wild bees would eventually die out.
Are swarms dangerous?
While their sheer numbers can be daunting, bees which are swarming are actually at their most docile. You can handle them easily and there is very little chance of getting stung. If you see a swarm flying just relax and enjoy the spectacle.
Stages of Swarming
- Colony builds in numbers and starts raising some new queens
- The queen vacates the old hive along with a large number of bees – this is the swarm and while they are flying can be very impressive.
- Usually within 30 minutes the queen will land somewhere – often a tree branch – and the other bees will all land on her forming a cluster the size of a football. When clustered they are nearly silent and can be high overhead so you are unlikely to see them.
- over 24 to 48 hours the cluster will send out scout bees to find a new permanent home – usually a cavity in a tree, a roof space, chimney or wall.
- A colony may send out more, smaller swarms over a number of weeks through the summer.
A beekeeper can often intercept the swarm while they are clustered and remove them to a new location where they will live out their lives in peace. This may be a better option than letting them find their own new home – possibly in the structure of your house!
If you know you regularly see swarms in an area one good option is to set out empty hives, baited with wax and pheromones attractive to the bees. When the scout bees are looking for a new home they may decide to use the trap. These need to be set out in advance of swarming and ideally left up through summer until the end of the swarm season.
Swarm traps can usually be placed discretely in trees, on high walls or flat roofs.
Established wild colonies of bees
Removing an established colony once it is living in building is a more difficult job. It can be done but is time consuming and expensive. See the pages on Trapouts and Cutouts for more information.