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What do I do if a swarm of bees turns up?

If you have a swarm of bees - DON'T PANIC. The first thing to check is if they are honey bees. If they really are honey bees then ring your local beekeepers association. For more details on how to check what you have got and get help see our swarms page.

If you live near to Bridport in Dorset then you can ring us on 01308 423808.

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How to deal with bee swarms

First of all don't panic.
In most cases bees that have just swarmed are unlikely to be bad tempered. They have just filled themselves up with as much honey as they could eat and are in party mood. Leave them alone, stay away and nobody will get stung.

Are you certain they are bees?
Most people have never seen a swarm of honeybees, so it is not surprising that people can confuse a swarm of honeybees with a wasps' nest or a bumble bees' nest, for example. There are many different kinds of bees and wasps and so if people see a lot of buzzing creatures together and don't know the difference they might simply assume they have a swarm.

How can you tell?
Honey bees can vary enormously in appearance and may range from fairly light shades of dull yellows and browns through to dark brown and almost black. However they are never bright yellow and black like the distinctive markings of wasps. Bumble bees are usually larger than honeybees or wasps, are very "furry" and may be black and yellow, black with a white tail or orange tail.

What is a swarm?
Only honeybees can be said to swarm. It is the bees natural way of increasing their colonies and ensuring their survival. When a colony of bees becomes strong, it will create new queens and the old queen will lead out perhaps half of the bees in the colony to find a new home. A typical small swarmThis is called a prime swarm and could contain tens of thousands of bees. Sometimes one of the new queens will lead out another swarm - called a cast - a few days later if the colony is still very populous. (Usually the first new queen to hatch will kill the other queens and make the colony her home.) Usually scout bees will have been searching for possible sites for the colony's new home - a hive, hollow tree, disused chimney, etc. - but nearly always the swarm will settle on a convienient tree or post and hang in a large cluster for a while before taking up residence in the new place.

What should you do?
As we said, don't panic. They will not hurt anyone unless disturbed. Leave them alone and contact one of the following:
The Local Police Station (Never use 999)
The District Council
Your local beekeepers' association

They can put you in touch with a beekeeper who will come and remove the swarm for a small charge.

We will add some more contact details and links in the near future. A good start would be the British Beekeepers' Association swarm help page and swarm collectors page

Bees and wasps are vital to our environment
Please remember that all kinds of bees (and many other insects) are valuable for pollination. Wasps do valuable work killing plant pests and clearing up in our gardens and orchards. Never destroy wasps and bees needlessly.

If you live in West Dorset
You can contact us on 01308 423808 if you live in the area round Bridport - but please do not call if you live outside the area.