I’m not sure it’s a swarm, what can SWHB do to help?
If you’ve seen a swarm of honey bees before, have one hanging in a tree or a shrub, or maybe on a fence in your garden, and live in our collection area, give us a call and one of our swarm collectors will arrange to remove it as soon as possible.
We collect swarms in the following postcode areas: SO40, SO41, SO42, SO43, SO45, BH23 and BH25.
Outside of these areas we will be able to put you in touch with a club local you.
The SWHB swarm mobile number is 07561 147 193
Who will collect a swarm?
An experienced beekeeper who is confident they can do the job. We alwaysfollow the BBKA Swarm Collectors Protocol, which ensures swarms are collected in a safe and consistent manner.
How much does it cost?
Members of SWHB are all volunteers and make no charge for collecting a swarm. It’ll usually take two visits to remove and collect them so it’d be kind of you to offer a donation towards time and expenses and, perhaps, a cup of tea or coffee if it’s a hot day.
What happens to the swarm?
Collected swarms are passed on to members of SWHB and will normally be in their new home within 24 hours of collection.
When you phone us we’ll ask you some questions which are listed below along with some sample replies and what you, and we, could do next.
If you can’t see the answer to your question then please don’t hesitate to call us on 07561 147 193.
Prior to attending your site we will discuss the situation with you and try to ascertain the type of insect involved.
|Q1 – What can you see?||Identification||Action|
|I can see a big lump of bees hanging from a tree in my garden.||All of these describe a swarm of honey bees that have clustered together for protection, warmth, and weather proofing whilst looking for nesting site.A big swarm hanging from a branch will often look like a big teardrop, wider at the top than the base. A swarm can be as big as a couple of rugby balls, sometimes even larger, or as small as a one-cup teapot.||Phone us on 07561 147|
|I can see lots of bees all gathered together on my fence, they cover an area a foot or more high and six or more inches across.||See above.||Phone us on 07561 147 193|
|There are a lot of dark coloured bees on the ground. It’s the size and shape of a big cowpat, one that wriggles.||See above.||Phone us on 07561 147 193|
|I can see what looks like a swarm of bees right at the top of the Oak tree in my garden.||As swarm resting whilst it finds a place to nest.||This swarm is likely to be well out of our reach, so we may not be able to collect these bees easily.We could, however, leave a bait hive on your property which might attract them down from the tree.|
|I can see what looks like a massive wasp nest high up in one of the trees in my garden.||It could be an Asian Hornet’s nest.This is a non-native, invasive, species that can harm native wildlife and kill our honey bees.||Check our identification pages. Take a photo and send it to us and/or Non Native Species Secretariat.|
|I saw something like this when I was walking the dog in the Forest.||An Asian Hornet nest was identified by National Bee Unit staff in the Brockenhurst area during 2018.||As above.|
|I’ve got all these bees round the edge of the water in my bird bath.What are they doing there?||These could be any species of bee.||Nothing, they are collecting water to take back to their nest.|
|An old tree has fallen over and there is what looks like a nest of bees inside the hollow trunk. I can see waxy comb and can smell honey.||This sounds like an established colony of honey bees.||We may be able to successfully remove the colony and its comb.We would need to visit to see if it’s practical.|
|There are some hairy, yellow and black stripy bees coming and going from a hole at the side of the lid of my compost bin.When I lift the lid I can see a few smaller fluffy bees crawling around, then they burrow into the compost.||Likely to be Bumblebees||Overwintered mated queen Bumblebees form a new colony in the Spring.The colony has a short life and will be gone by mid-Summer, after which you’ll see some very big queen Bumblebees in your garden.Can you put your compost somewhere else in the meantime?|
|I’ve got bees making holes in the mortar between my bricks. Are they honey bees?||No, they will be Mason Bees.||Nothing for now, they’ve got eggs and developing larvae in the tubes.Once you see no activity, later in the year, you can fill the holes with fresh mortar.Maybe think about putting an air brick somewhere in your garden for them to use next year.|
|There’s a grey, papery-looking, nest about 6 inches across, hanging from inside the roof of my shed.||Probably a wasp nest but could be an Asian Hornet.||Check our identification pages.If unsure then try to identify the insects that’re using the nest.If not wasps please take a photo and send it to us and/or Non Native Species Secretariat.|
|I can see some dark coloured bees coming and going from my compost bin.When I lift the lid I can see loads of bees hanging beneath the lid.There are more bees than I can possibly count.||Probably honey bees.||Phone us on 07561 147 193|
|There are some yellow and black stripy insects coming and going from a hole under the lid of my compost bin. When I open the lid I can see what looks like a small papery nest.||These will be wasps.||You may choose to destroy the wasp nest. Contact a licensed Pest Controller or use a Wasp Spray – follow the instructions carefully.|
|In my wasp trap I’ve found an insect I’ve never seen before.It’s bigger than a queen wasp, has a mostly black body and an orange face.||It could be an Asian Hornet||Check our identification page then use our web contact form or contact the Non Native Species Secretariat.|
|There’s what looks like a wasp nest in one of my shrubs.Will you come and kill it for me?||Check that it is a wasp nest and is not an Asian Hornet nest.||If you’re sure it’s a wasp nest and recognise the insect then call a registered Pest Controller.We can’t destroy wasp nests for you because we aren’t licensed to use insecticides on your property.|
|I’ve got honey bees coming and going through a knot hole in a double-walled garden shed.Can you help?||An established colony of honey bees in a wooden outbuilding.||Check that an area between the walls is warmer than the rest, and put your ear to the inside wall. You should be able to hear a gentle hum of bees and may even be able to smell honey.We might be able to remove the colony, but you would need to get somebody to repair the shed afterwards as well as checking for any other knotholes that another colony could use.|
|I’ve just seen a swarm of bees go into the top of my chimney. It happened a couple of hours ago, today.||A newly arrived swarm.||If your chimney has a fireplace or woodburner we may be able to persuade the swarm to leave by using our smokers or a bee repellent.If this happened a week or more ago you may need to contact either a chimney sweep and/or a registered Pest Controller.Cap chimney pots with an insect-proof cowl,, they’re cheaper than removing colonies of bees.|
|Q2 – What do the insects look like?||Identification||Action|
|They are quite a dark colour, and each one is about the size of my little finger nail.||These could be either honey bees or a species of solitary bee.A swarm of honey bees is not half a dozen bees, it is thousands of bees.||Ask us to collect a swarm.|
|The insects are quite fluffy, with black and yellow markings and maybe some white on their body. They’re about the size of my thumbnail.||These are probably bumble bees.Worker bumble bees are a lot smaller than the big overwintered queens you see in early Spring.||Nothing|
|The insects have yellow and black stripes and seem to be hovering in the air above my lawn.||These are hoverflies.||Nothing, but they do like French Marigolds.|
|The insects are striped yellow and black, look quite shiny, with a slender abdomen and pointed tail.||Probably wasps.||If they aren’t being a nuisance then let them be because wasps eat a massive number of insect pests each year, so benefit gardeners.If the nest is in the wrong place and the insects are stinging people or livestock then either use a wasp spray (follow the instructions carefully) or contact a registered Pest Controller.|
|I’ve never seen one of these insects before. It’s like a very big black wasp with an orange face.What is it?||It could be an Asian Hornet, which is an invasive species that can harm insect wildlife.||Please check our identification page and contact SWHB or the Non-Native Species Secretariat.|
|Q3 – What are the insects doing?||Identification||Action|
|A few insects that look like bees are going to and fro from a hole in the ground, or in and out of the cracks between paving slabs.||These will probably be solitary bees.||Nothing, their activity is short-lived and once the eggs have developed into bees you won’t see them again except on flowers in your garden.|
|There are some bees living in an old bird box, quite a few are dancing in the air around the entrance.||These are likely to be Bumblebees.A normal sized nest box is too small to accommodate a colony of honey bees, which need something about the size of a family cool box.||Unless they’re a nuisance you can leave them alone, they’ll go by mid-Summer.If you would like to move the bird box check out information on the Bumblebee Trust website.|
|There are lots of insects buzzing around a flowering shrub, or the flowering ivy in my garden.Should I be worried?||These insects will be collecting pollen and/or nectar. They are not likely to be swarming honey bees but will be a mixture of different species. How many species can you identify?||Nothing.Watch them for a little while and you’ll notice that there’s to and fro traffic because all of these insects have a home to go back to.|
|I’ve just watched a bee cut a piece of leaf from a rose bush and fly away with it.It is a honey bee?||No, it’s a Leafcutter Bee that is busy raising its’ young somewhere nearby.||Be glad you’ve seen it.|
|Insects that look like bees are visiting my Laurel hedge, but there aren’t any flowers.Is it a swarm arriving?||Probably not a swarm because these insects will be collecting a sugary substance produced by extra-floral nectaries just below the Laurel leaves.||Nothing.|
|There are some bees in a hole in the ground in my garden and my grandchildren are coming.What do I do?||They’re probably bumblebees and not honey bees, could be wasps.||If they’re Bumblebees your grandchildren could draw pictures for school.Bumblebees tend not to sting.We can’t do anything about any species other than honey bees, and we aren’t licensed to carry or use insecticides.If you think these insects have to be killed you should contact a registered Pest Controller.|
|Q4 – What can, or did, you hear?||Identification||Action|
|It sounded a bit like a Harley Davison or a vintage racing car. I could hear the noise long before I saw the cloud of bees in the air flying towards my garden.When they landed in my Mahonia the sound stopped, and if I hadn’t watched them land I wouldn’t have known the bees were there.||You heard, and then saw, a swarm of honey bees arriving in your garden.It’s a rare and magical sight.They’re noisy when in flight for protection from swallows etc but are as quiet as possible when hanging in a tree or shrub so no predators notice them.||If you can see the swarm then phone us on 07561 147 193 for advice.The swarm collector for your area may need to use loppers to remove branches from your Mahonia.|
|I heard a loud buzzing sound like a doodlebug from war films. I then saw a huge stripy flying insect that had yellow and brown stripes. It was terrifying and I thought it would sting me.Then it just flew past and ignored me.||This will have been a European Hornet, often called Gentle Giants.||You were lucky to see this, European Hornets are quite rare in towns, although the species is not endangered.|
|Please note that we are part time and ‘hobby’ beekeepers so, although we may be able to remove a swarm that’s just decided to move into your loft, it’s unlikely that we will be able to remove an established colony of bees from a house cavity or a chimney and make repairs. You will also need a builder.||You may need to contact a registered Pest Controller and a builder as well as SWHB.|
What information will you need from me?
Your name, address, and telephone number if you need us to come to your property. This information will be stored in line with GDPR.
We also need a fairly good description of where the swarm is, and roughly how high above the ground, to make sure we match you with the nearest swarm collector who can collect a swarm at that height. Some won’t climb tall ladders.
If the swarm collector does attend site, you will be required to complete a Disclaimer form. A copy will be brought by the collector for you to complete before work can commence