Swarming is a natural part of a bee colony's life cycle. When a hive becomes strong and gets the urge to reproduce, a number of bees will leave in a swarm. This is a noisy and busy process and some people get alarmed by it. But it is just the bees way of "being fruitful and multiplying" and providing they are not provoked they are usually quite gentle at this time.
Once a swarm leaves a hive it flies a short distance and then rests in a characteristic clump while explorers go looking for a new hive site. Some people are anxious for bees to move on, but they will do this after a day or two anyway. However, very few bees nowadays survive without the attention of a beekeeper and sometimes the site that they choose brings them into conflict with people. So people seeing swarms resting often report them to beekeepers who will see the bees to a good home.
If you are in the North Dorset area and have or have seen a swarm of honey bees that would be best collected, then we advise the following:
STEP 1: Contact our BKA secretary Lesley Gasson on 01258 861690 (Mobile: 07469 884428)
STEP 2: If you did not get any answer from STEP 1 then please refer to the BBKA website at https://www.bbka.org.uk/swarm and follow their advice
A swarm does not settle for long, often it leaves the hive in the morning, settles at midday and moves on the day after, so if you think that one needs collecting please phone ASAP.
If the swarm is in a chimney, behind a fascia board, at the top of a tall tree, on a roof (or inside the structure) or somewhere it is difficult to collect, beekeepers have no magic and cannot collect them. If the swarm can be reached from a stepladder and is in view then we are very happy to collect it.
Swarms are usually collected in the evening when flying bees have returned. The beekeeper (in full protective clothing) sweeps or knocks the swarm into a basket-like skep and then keeps them there while the remaining flying bees return; the swarm can then be removed to a new home. If the swarm arrives about midday and you spot it, it is likely it will still be there when the beekeeper arrives. The longer a swarm stays in one place the sooner it will take off to a chosen nest site and we will arrive in vain. So please let the collector know when you first saw it as well giving as good a description as possible of where it is and any potential access problems.
Beekeepers will only collect honeybees, not hornets, wasps or bumblebees. Click here if you need to check which you have.