What to do if you find a swarm of bees


What should you do if you find a swarm of honeybees?

DO NOT BE SCARED If you see a large cluster of bees clinging to a tree branch, fence or post etc. These bees currently have no home to defend, they are looking for a new place to set up a colony, so this is the most docile you will ever see a honeybee! They not only have no home to defend, but they are also full up from gorging themselves on honey so that they have enough resources to start fresh wherever they end up. This is the calmest you will ever see a honeybee.


Why do Bees Swarm?

Honeybee swarm

Swarming is a natural way of Honeybees reproducing and increasing colony numbers. When a colony or hive of bees becomes too big, the bees in the colony will create a new queen. The original queen leaves the hive with up to 60% of the workers, to find a new home and establish a new colony. The new queen then takes over the existing hive with the remaining bees. The queen is not a great flyer. Therefore, the bees need to sometimes stop for a rest. All the worker bees will gather around the queen in order to protect her. That’s why you see a large cluster of bees hanging from a tree branch or fence post.


What should you do if you find a swarm of honeybees?


  • Firstly, do not panic. Without a home to defend, the bees are normally docile.
  • Try to confirm that they are honeybees. Honeybees are generally quite small with a completely black abdomen or an abdomen with amber bands. You can follow this link to The Friends of the Earth Bee identification Guide  if you’re not sure.
  • If you’re within a 10-mile radius of Ivybridge, Devon: Contact us and we will be able to rescue and rehome the swarm.
  • For anywhere else in the UK, follow this link to the BBKA (British Beekeepers Association). You will find a map of swarm collectors across the UK. You can type in your postcode and find the closest one to you.


Does the swarm need to be rescued or can they find a home in the wild?

Unfortunately, British Honeybees are very unlikely to survive in the wild. Most Honeybees in the UK live in a hive and are managed by a Beekeeper. For the best chance of survival, swarms need to be rescued by a beekeeper and rehomed, where they can be managed to produce honey!

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