Reporting a Swarm

Members of the general public in the High Weald area of northeast Sussex who find a swarm should contact one of the honeybee Swarm List Coordinators below. You will be asked to supply the exact location of the swarm and you will be put in touch with the nearest beekeeper who will cheerfully collect your swarm.

Swarm List Coordinators for the High Weald Beekeepers area:

Peter Halford :       01435 882683 / 07729 234 089 / the.hwbka@gmail.com
(covering the northern part of the High Weald including Crowborough and Wadhurst areas)

Jennifer Moore :     01323 842253 / 07803 744 368
(covering the southern part of the High Weald including Uckfield and Heathfield areas)

Although pest control companies and some beekeepers make a charge for the removal of a swarm, members of the High Weald Bee Keeping Association do not. However,  should you wish to make a charitable donation for the service to defray the travelling costs of the Beekeeper and to help support our association which has the welfare of bees at heart, that would be most welcome.
Please note that most beekeepers will only remove swarms that are easily accessible e.g. from shrubs or small trees in a garden. In most cases they are unable to remove swarms from inside roofs of buildings, chimneys etc. We have our own well-being to consider also.

You will surely know when you have a swarm ..... by the sheer size of it .......see images on previous page http://hwbka.org.uk/education/swarms/

However, Beekeepers are also often called out to investigate bees that are already resident inside a tree or building and although many are willing to do so to provide advice and reassurance at least, it must be borne in mind that this may well pose particular problems in terms of accessibility and risk to the structure and Beekeeper.
Before calling out a Beekeeper in such a situation it would be most helpful if you could at least try to distinguish whether the insects are honeybees rather than bumblebees or wasps. There is much information on the Internet to help and one of our members has pulled together a useful summary which can be found here http://www.witherenden-hill.uk/bees/identification.php

Basically

Honeybee - Apis mellifera (16-20mm)

apis melliferaapis melliferaapis mellifera

The familiar black and gold Honey Bee is almost unmistakable; there are several species of hoverfly which look similar, but they can be distinguished by their larger eyes. Note some honey bees can be somewhat darker than in this picture.
Other suspects might include

 Buff-tailed bumblebee - Bombus terrestris

bombus terrestrisbombus terrestrisbombus terrestris

Queens, workers and males have a dirty/golden yellow collar near the head and one on the abdomen. The queen’s tail is an off white/buff colour which can sometimes appear orange. The workers have a white tail with a subtle buff line separating the tail from the rest of the abdomen. Unlike many species, the Buff-tailed male’s facial hair is black, as opposed to yellow. Males have a buff-tinged tail.

Common carder bee - Bombus pascuorum (20-25mm)

bombus pascuorumbombus pascuorumbombus pascuorum

Queens, workers and males are almost completely brown or ginger. However, the shade varies significantly, depending on the location. Some have abdomens which are very dark, while the abdomens of others can be quite light. It is the only common UK bumblebee that is mostly brown or ginger.

Heath bumblebee - Bombus jonellus (12mm)

bombus jonellusbombus jonellus

Queens, workers and males have three yellow bands, with one at the front of the abdomen and two on the thorax. The mainland variation also has a white tail whereas the Western Isles and Shetland form has an orange/buff tail. The colouration is similar to that of the Garden bumblebee, but the face in this species is round, whereas that of the Garden bumblebee is long. This bee is also smaller than the Garden bee, but this is generally only noticeable in queens. The common name of this species is misleading, because it can be found in gardens, parks and other habitats.

If they are honey bees, the Beekeeper may try to remove them provided this does not involve too much engineering work. However if this is not possible and provided their entrance is high (more than 2m from the ground) and not to close to an opening door or window they are unlikely to cause problems and could just be left alone and enjoyed.

If the bees turn out to be Bumblebees, or solitary bees, the best thing is to leave them be, as they are gentle creatures to be cherished and enjoyed. They will die out at the end of the year in any case and are unlikely to return to the same location next year.  They are also protected and many species are endangered. Killing them can result in legal proceedings and hefty fines. You may at least want to mark their entrance in some way to make it obvious and prevent people stumbling into it by accident.

However, if someone in the house is known to have a severe reaction to stings, possibly including anaphylaxis then your best option is to contact your Local Authority pest control department who will know what best to do and all the legalities.

DO NOT attempt to poison bees! yourself as there are legal implications and if they are honey bees, they may well have stores of honey that will become contaminated and which will subsequently be collected by other local bees and may end up in the human food chain.