During the Spring (April through to June) honeybee colonies will prepare to swarm, although a swarm can emanate as late as August. Swarming is the natural process by which honeybees increase their population; the old queen leaves the colony with a number of the adult foragers to set up a new colony. They leave behind a young new queen, the larvae and stores so the original colony can continue. As beekeepers, we do our best to manage swarming so that a swarm of bees doesn’t freely emanate from the colony and cause possible mayhem. Unfortunately, from time to time, a colony beats us to it and a swarm will fly forth. If you are graced with a swarm of honeybees, firstly do not panic; it may seem an overwhelming experience but a swarm is generally quite placid if left to settle. A number of bees will be scouting around so there will be a good number of bees flying. Once a swarm has settled, you can contact one of our local ‘SWARM COLLECTORS’
As you can imagine we receive a large number of enquiries regarding ‘bees’. There are over 250 sub-species of bee in the UK alone, but only one Honeybee. Before contacting us, please try to identify the type of bee you have. Whilst we do not want bumblebee nests destroyed, our primary focus is on the Honeybee. Not all our members will collect or ‘adopt’ a bumblebee nest.
Bees or wasps?
The following links will take you to some good wikipedia pages to help you identify the bees you may have – or wasps!.
HONEYBEES IN A SWARM
Bumblebees. We get a large number of enquiries regarding bumblebee nests of various types. In fact, such enquiries account for 60% or more of our total ‘I’ve got a swarm’ emails. In most cases, by the time you’ve noticed the bumblebees, the colony has been there for a few months. The activity you see is generally where the colony has raised virgin queens which are on mating flights. This activity attracts many male bees to the colony which hover outside and can look like a small swarm. We have a large number of enquiries regarding tree bumblebees which seem to like birdboxes.
Wasps! Please see the difference between bees and wasps.
Wasps have smooth bodies and legs with distinct yellow/black bands around the abdomen, whereas bees are a more non-descript light brown/browny-yellow colour and have hairy bodies and legs.