What should you do if a swarm of bees takes up residence in your home or garden?

Honey bee

Honey bee - Credit: Archant

It's the time of year when bees are at their most active and numerous reports have been coming in of swarms in gardens and even getting into properties.

A bee swarm in Tombland, Norwich. Photo: Nick Butcher

A bee swarm in Tombland, Norwich. Photo: Nick Butcher - Credit: Archant � 2009

When honey bees swarm, a large proportion of the honey bees leave their nest in search of a new location to start a new colony and that place can be anywhere that is warm and dry.

Paul Metcalf, a national bee expert checking a honey bee hive at the apiary near to Easton College.

Paul Metcalf, a national bee expert checking a honey bee hive at the apiary near to Easton College. Picture: James Bass - Credit: ECN - Archant

But honey bees are under threat and feral colonies appear to be in decline so they should not be destroyed unless absolutely necessary.

So what should you do if you spot a swarm and are worried about them?

This is the advice from the British Beekeepers Association.


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First thing to note is that when they are their most active they are simply working and are no cause for alarm.

You then need to identify your bees - honeybees are small and vary in colour from golden brown to almost black.

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You can use a helpful guide on the BBKA website for clarification.

If you are sure you are looking at a swarm of honey bees then it's time to contact your local Swarm Collector.

Type in your postcode on the website search section and a list of swarm collectors will come up in order of nearest to your postcode.

You will be asked to supply the exact location of the swarm.

The Norfolk Beekeepers Association also provides these contacts depending on where you live:

Breckland Council Area:

James Walker 01362 698860

Trevor Nash 01362 696737

Broadland Council Area:

David Southgate 01508 470578

Peter Margree 01603 737760

Kings Lynn Council Area:

Barry Thrower 01553 810001 or 07747 426888

North Norfolk Council Area:

Lynne & Guy Pettit 01328 830709 Lynne 07799 833568 Guy 07717 772850

South Norfolk Council Area including Gt Yarmouth Council Area:

Martin Furneaux 01953 453944

Clare Aldus (01508) 530139

Norwich City Council Area:

Paul Cain 07792 770678

Corriena Scollay 07561 324527

Most beekeepers may make a charge for removal of a swarm from your garden depending on travelling distances to cover costs of petrol etc.

Swarms of honey bees can usually be safely removed by a suitably qualified beekeeper if they are contacted in time. If the honey bees have left their post swarming clustering place and taken up residence in the fabric of a building, that can be more difficult (if not impossible) to be safely dealt with by a beekeeper.

Professional pest control personnel will be required to undertake the work either solely or in conjunction with a beekeeper.

If the honey bees are not causing a nuisance or a threat, they can be left alone. Some properties are known to have had honey bee colonies within their fabric for many years without causing any disturbance or problems to the property owner.

Beekeepers are unable to help remove bumblebees, wasps, solitary bees or hornets.

For all the information you need go to the BBKA website or Norfolk website.

*Have you taken a picture of a swarm of bees? Send it to kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk

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