Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead Beekeepers' Society

Swarms

BEFORE YOU CALL A BEEKEEPER FOR HELP, PLEASE CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING: 

WHAT SORT OF BEES ARE THEY?

  • If they are somewhat round and clearly furry, they are bumble bees and they come in all sizes
Bumble bee
  • If they are not furry and have very distinctive black and yellow banded stripes, they are probably wasps
Wasp
  • If they are neither of these, but about the same size as a wasp, and do not have very distinctive stripes, they are probably honey bees.
Honey bee 3

Unlike honey bees and wasps, bumble bees do not create large nests and they usually occupy such things as a hole under a shed or decking or a nesting box or they burrow into a compost heap or into the insulation material under a roof, if they can find a way in. Bumble bees can sting, but they will only do so if they feel threatened by, for example, disturbance of their nest. Unlike wasps that are scavengers, bumble bees are not interested in humans as they are focused on collecting pollen and nectar from flowers and blossom.

It is very difficult to move a bumble bee nest successfully, so try to learn to live with them. You are going to get them in your garden anyway, regardless of where they nest, and they do a lot of good as pollinators.

Bumble bees die out when the weather gets really cold, so that is the time to block holes, empty nesting boxes, etc, if you don’t want them back next year.

For more information on bumble bees, go to www.bumblebeeconservation.org

If you have a wasps' nest, call your local  borough or district Council for help.

Swarm
A swarm of honey bees.

If you do have a swarm of honey bees or a nest of them, then call a beekeeper on the list below, who may be able to remove them - if they are accessible. Beekeepers do not look after bumble bees or wasps, just honey bees.

A swarm of honey bees is very distinctive - you are likely to be aware of many thousands of bees swirling quite dramatically across the sky and finally settling around a cluster of bees on a branch (or sometimes a man-made object) usually some way off the ground. Eventually, in an hour or less, the flying activity will more-or-less cease and the hanging cluster of bees will remain in place. Often this cluster will look like a rugby ball. 

This is a swarm and eventually, if left to itself, this cluster will fly off to a new home, usually within 24 hours.  However, such a new colony is unlikely to survive in the wild, without a beekeeper's help.

If, as a member of the public, you are aware of a swarm of bees in our area ( and please be aware that unfortunately, as stated above, we
are unable to help with bumblebee or wasp nests) please contact


 

We will arrange for one of our members to come and look at it.  If it is accessible, it can be collected by a beekeeper and turned back into a productive honey-bee colony.  This is very useful to the Society because we will give the swarm to a new member who is waiting for the opportunity to have their own bees.

We have a list of new members who have everything prepared to house the bees and swarms are allocated on a 'first come first served' basis.  New members are invited to add their name to the list by contacting Glynis.

For further information about swarms, please follow the links to the BBKA website below: click on Help and then Swarms.