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Help! We've got a swarm of bees in the garden

ARE YOU SURE THEY'RE HONEY BEES? Many people do not know the difference between similar looking insects and assume they have a swarm of honeybees when they may have a wasps' nest or a bumble bees' nest instead.
See identification chart.
A Honeybee A Common Wasp A Bumblebee
HOW WILL I KNOW?
Honeybees may be light coloured - a dull yellow or brown - through to dark brown, and are fairly uniformly coloured, with indistinct markings. By contrast, wasps have very distinct bright yellow and black markings and if you can see their nest it is a grey papery ball. Bumble bees are usually larger than honeybees or wasps, are very "furry" and may be black and yellow, black with a white or orange tail and often make their small nests in birdboxes, compost heaps, airbricks etc (see article). For more information go to the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust
WHAT IS A SWARM?
Sometimes a colony of bees becomes too big for its home - a hive, hollow tree, disused chimney etc. - and then the queen and many of the bees leave to find a new home. This is a swarm. Whilst scouts search for a new home the main body of the swarm will hang in a large cluster on a convenient tree, bush or post.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Don't panic. They will not hurt anyone unless disturbed. Before leaving their old home they fill themselves with honey and are quite docile. Leave them alone and contact one of the following:

  • See our contacts on this website, below.
  • Your Local Police Station ( Do not ring 999 !!!)
  • Your local Council's Environmental Services
  • The Citizens Advice Bureau
They can put you in touch with a beekeeper who will come and remove the swarm, or see below.
PROTECT NATURE
Please remember that all kinds of bees (and many other insects) are valuable for pollination - Never destroy them needlessly.

Having trouble with Swarms ?

The honeybee often swarms as part of a natural process and this usually takes place between May and July. In this state the bees are normally harmless and benign and usually not a risk to the general public.

Once they leave the hive, they will settle in a nearby tree or bush whilst they find a more permanent home and because they have no hive to protect they are not normally aggressive if left alone.

If you see a swarm in your garden you can contact a local beekeeper from the list below who will arrange to visit the site and either collect the swarm or advise you of the best course of action. Sometimes the swarm turns out to be wasps or bumble-bees in which case the bee-keeper will advise you what you should do. Sometimes the beekeeper will help you deal with these swarms too, but there may be an additional cost element and he/she will advise you of this before carrying out any extra work on your behalf.

The following beekeepers are prepared to assist you in dealing with swarms adhering to the BBKA protocol - call the one nearest to you.

Please note: The beekeeper may want you to send him a picture of the swarm and there may be a nominal call-out expenses charge of 10 to cover time and petrol costs. This service is provided on a totally voluntry basis.

    Steve Jacklin
    (co-ordinator)
    Norton, Billingham, Stockton, Sedgefield
    TS20
    Tel 07769 660133
    Unal Metti Eaglescliffe, Thornaby TS16
    Tel 07483 224646
    Felicity Ashton
    Hartlepool, Elwick
    TS27
    Tel 07503 482787
    Derek Tweedy
    Darlington
    DL1
    Tel 07974 021473
           01325 253549
    Steven Bradley
    Stockton,
    TS18
    Tel 01642 645803
    Chris Wase
    Stockton, Norton
    TS19
    Tel 07851 829813
    James Turnbull
    Guisborough, Hartlepool
    TS14
    Tel 07711 870918
    Sal Mancina
    Stokesley, Hutton Rudby, Great Ayton
    TS15
    Tel 01642 701638
           07909 179681
    John Canning
    Middlesbrough, South Bank, Normanby,  Eston
    TS7
    Tel 07713 166215
    David Gawthorpe
    Yarm, Eaglescliffe
    TS15
    Tel  01642 864025
           07801 286284
    John Baines
    Middlesbrough
    TS5
    Tel  07758 466303
    Kate Brennan
    Stokesley, Hutton Rudby
    TS15
    Tel 07925 545156
    Helen Hughes
    Stokesley Hutton Rudby
    TS15
    Tel  07738 763792
    Ian Peacock
    Ingleby Barwick,Thornaby, Middlesbrough
    TS17
    Tel 07914 240428