British Beekeepers Association

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British Beekeepers Association

Do you have a honeybee swarm?

Beekeepers are often approached about winged, flying creatures, especially in the spring and summer period, when they are their most active simply working and are no cause for alarm.

This part of the BBKA website is to help you find out what kind of insect you have and therefore what to do about it. The most common insects are honeybees, bumblebees and wasps. There are other kinds of insects that are confused with these.

This section shows how to identify honeybees or a swarm of honeybees and provides information to help you know what to do.

STEP 1: How do I know it's a honey bee?

Please watch the video above to see what a swarm of honeybees looks like. To do this, hold your cursor over the picture and click the forward arrow. Please note that other insects in the UK rarely swarm.

Our beekeepers are only able to help in cases of honey bee swarms.

Trisha Marlow Swarm

Does your resting swarm look like this picture?

If so then please click here to find your nearest beekeeper who can help you.

Honeybee

STEP 2: Identifying Honeybees

Honeybees are small and vary in colour from golden brown to almost black.

If you have honey bees in the structure of your property click here

To see what a swarm looks like, use the panel to the right.

If you are looking at these then please contact your local Swarm Collector who will provide appropriate help or advice with your honey bee swarm.

If the insects are not honeybees, go to step 5 for information and advice about what to do.

Does your swarm look like this?

Honey bee swarm

If you are looking at these then please contact your local Swarm Collector who will provide appropriate help or advice with your honey bee swarm.

STEP 3: Find a local Swarm Collector

Are you sure you have a swarm of honey bees?

If you are looking at a swarm of honey bees (as in 'Identifying Honeybees' above) then it's time to contact your local Swarm Collector.

   Click here to find a local Swarm Collector

STEP 4: Further Reading

If you have honey bees in the structure of your property click here

Click here to download the BBKA bees in buildings PDF

STEP 5: I don't think they are honeybees, what should I do?

If the insects are not honeybees, this part of the website shows you how to tell other insects apart and what to do after that.

Bumblebee

Bumblebees

Bumblebees are often confused with honeybees. However they are rounder, larger and furrier and come with a variety of coloured stripes across the end of their tails. Are they in a bird box, under the decking, in the compost?

Bumblebees are important pollinators. Leave the nests alone if possible. They will die out at the end of summer and will cause no further problems. Bumblebees rarely sting or attack people or animals and should therefore not be disturbed. There are 24 different types of native bumblebee, all of which vary in size and colour.

For more information about bumblebees go to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust Website.

Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of bumblebees.

Solitary Bee

Solitary bees

Are there lots of small bees popping in and out of the wall or very small holes in the ground. Do they have a "reddy/brown" bottom? Are they almost black?

These are solitary bees, of which there are 225 species recorded in the UK and they post no threat or harm to you, your family or pets. Solitary bees are important pollinators and should be left alone. Their numbers will decrease over the summer and their nests should be left alone.

For more information go to Wild About Gardens.

Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of solitary bees.

Wasp

Wasps

Is it bright yellow with black stripes? Very smooth, mainly yellow with black stripes? Is it in the roof of your house? Are they coming from a round nest in a tree? Is there a nest in the shed? Do they have a high pitched buzz? Are they after all things sweet? Then these are probably wasps.

For more information go to BWARS.

Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of wasps.

Hornet

Hornets

Are they very big with a loud buzz? Are they black and brown with a hint of orange? Living in the roof or shed? Do they have a very big curved tail? These are European Hornets and are valuable pollinators usually found in wooden areas.

For more information go to BWARS.

Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of hornets.