In summer we get many calls and questions from people with bees in their houses, outbuildings and gardens.  

There are over 250 types of bees in the UK but there is only one european honey bee (Apis mellifera).  As well as honey bees there are around 24 species of bumblebee and over 240 species of solitary bee in the UK.  Please see below to help identify what type of bee you have and who to approach for help and information.  

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

If you feel you need to have the bees destroyed please contact a local reputable pest control company.  Bees are endangered but they are not protected.  Click here for the link to the Health & Safety Executive guide to Honey bees and biocides: 

Our volunteers beekeepers can only assist in cases of swarms OF HONEY BEES.

See our page of photos of honeybee swarms

To Jump straight to the Swarm map click here

To support the work of the BBKA please DONATE

STEP 1: Identifying bees

If the insects are not honey bees, this part of the website shows you how to recognise other insects  and  gives some advice on what to do.

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, or the Buzz About Bees website.

Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of bumblebees.

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 over 240 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.  If they are in your lawn or buildings, they may look worrying but they cause no damage.  Again most species only fly for a few weeks, so will probably disappear again within a month. Please leave them alone if you can.

For more information go to The Wildlife Trusts.

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

For more information on identifying 'What bee is this?' - click here

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.

European 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.

Asian Hornets

Are they dark brown or black with a velvety body? The queen is up to 30mm long and worker up to 25mm long (smaller than the European counterpart). Are the legs yellow at the ends (the European hornet has brown legs)? Do not disturb an active nest. If you suspect you have found an Asian Hornet please send a photo to [email protected].

For more information click here

Beekeepers can help you identify Asian Hornets.

Mining Bees

Here's a video taken by Gary Hammond of North Herts Beekeepers Association where you can see hundreds of these solitary mining bees flying over a bed of soil where they have made their burrows. Gary says he's been getting calls from the swarm line but gone out to find these mining bees.   Our swarm collectors are unable to assist with mining bees.  

Ivy Mining Bees , not to be confused with honey bees. If this is what you have found, unfortunately, the BBKA cannot help.

If you still cannot identify what bee it is click here for further information.

STEP 2: I still think they're Honey bees

Honey bees are small and vary in colour from golden brown to almost black.  All will form a distinctive cluster when they have settled as a swarm. Honey bees have large hairy eyes, a furry chest or thorax and distinctive bent antennae. 

If you have honey bees in the structure of your property

Does your swarm look like this?

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. 

See our page of honeybee swarm photos for more examples

STEP 3: Find a local Swarm Collector

Please note that swarm collectors from south of the Thames cannot assist with swarms across the water in Essex.

Enter your postcode below and then click on the red markers which appear nearest the 'bee' for details of your local swarm collector.

If you can't find a swarm collector local to you on this map please get in touch with your local beekeeping association

STEP 4: Further Reading

This Swarm Checklist provides further information and has kindly been provided by BeeCraft (www.bee-craft.com).

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

All of the information you need if you have found a Honey Bee swarm should be here on this page. If you feel you do need further assistance you can contact us on 02476 696679. 

Testimonies 

On Monday July 2nd at 4.30pm a swarm of honey bees had gathered on a small tree branch that was on the border with my neighbour. He thought they were wasps and was in a panic. I confirmed they were bees with the help of your website, used your search to find and call a coordinator, who phoned back to say a bee keeper had been found. He called me immediately and arrived about an hour later with all the kit and removed the bees to a new home. It was fascinating to watch as he talked through each step. He even gave me a jar of his own splendid honey but would take no payment for this or his time and expenses. So I am about to make a donation to you for your excellent website and the service it provided. Thank you so much and let's hope those bees are happy in their new home.

To support the work of the BBKA please DONATE

Main image credit: Nilfanion