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British Beekeepers Association

Do You Have a Swarm?

Beekeepers are often approached about winged, flying creatures, especially in the spring and summer period, when these generate a lot of activity.

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 tell them apart and what to do after that.

Bumblebee

Step 1 - 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?

Leave them alone if possible. Bumblebees are an important pollinator and rarely sting. Bumblebees are under threat of extinction.

Beekeepers will not collect/remove Bumblebees.

For more information contact the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

If your insects do not look like this, go to step 2

Solitary Bee

Step 2 - 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, they are harmless and as their name suggest live more or less alone. They aren't interested in you and should be left alone.

Beekeepers will not collect/remove Solitary Bees.

For more information click here.

If your insects do not look like this, go to step 3

Wasp

Step 3 - 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.

Beekeepers will not collect/remove Wasps.

For more information about wasps go to BWARS.

If your insects do not look like this, go to step 4

Hornet

Step 4 - 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 Hornets.

Beekeepers will not collect/remove Hornets.

For more information go to BWARS.

If your insects do not look like this, go to step 5

Honeybee

Step 5 - 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.

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.

If your insects look like this, go to step 6

Step 6 - 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 Step 5 above) then it's time to contact your local Swarm Collector.

   Click here to find a local Swarm Collector