Between April and July honeybees may swarm. They do this in order to reproduce and increase their genetic diversity. The old queen leaves the hive with approximately half the bees, and the bees left in the hive make a new queen. The new queen will mate with between 10 to 20 drones from hives in the area and this ensures the genetic diverity of the new hive. Meanwhile the old queen and her workers find a temporary resting place, usually within about 100m from the old hive, where they hang in a large football shaped cluster from a branch, on a wall or pole, or any other likely resting place and send out scout bees to find a suitable new home. They could remain in this location for a few hours or up to 3 or 4 days.
If you see bees in this cluster please contact a beekeeper to come and collect them and rehive them, or they may find themselves an (unsuitable) home in someone's chimney or shed. To do this click on this link which will take you to the British Beekeepers Swarm page.
If you are not sure that what you have seen is a honeybee swarm, please also click on the above link which will help you identify what you have seen.
Need someone to remove a swarm?
If you think you have seen a swarm of honeybees and would like to contact a local beekeeper to collect them go to the BBKA Do You Have A Swarm page.
Please be aware that these beekeepers collect swarms on a voluntary basis. They will not charge you for collecting the swarm, but they may ask for a token amount to cover their expenses.
The beekeeper's insurance does not cover them for collecting bees from high or dangerous locations. Also, if the bees are already establishing a colony in the fabric of a building, it may not be possible to remove them. If this is the case, and they are causing a real nuisance, they will need to be removed by a specialist Pest Control firm. You can find details of a local firm on the web or from a local telephone directory.
Looking to acquire a swarm?
If you are member of this branch (Rugby) and you are looking to acquire a swarm of bees visit this page.