If you are not a beekeeper, a swarm of honeybees may look and sound quite daunting. However, there is no need to panic because unless attacked they are very unlikely to sting anyone. However, it is important that you do nothing to disturb or disperse them, not only because there is then more danger of being stung but also because honeybees, which are vital for plant pollination, are under severe threat from parasites and diseases and need our protection. By calling in a beekeeper you will therefore be helping the bees and the environment.
Swarms mostly appear between April and July and are usually the result of overcrowding in their home colony. When that happens, the queen bee and about half the colony will leave to find a new home elsewhere. Their usual behaviour is to gather in a convenient spot (i.e. convenient for them) and cluster together while a number of 'scout' bees go looking for a suitable site to set up a new colony. This can take anything between an hour and a couple of days. It is at this point that they can most easily be collected by a beekeeper. N.B. If the bees are left to their own devices they may move on to colonise a chimney, wall cavity or roof space, at which point it will only be possible to remove them by employing a suitably equipped and insured pest-removal service.
So if you see such a swarm of bees 'hanging about' please contact a beekeeper from the list below (all of whom are members of the Shropshire Beekeepers' Association) who will do his/her best to remove it for you. Please note, however, that we cannot work miracles. A swarm on a branch overhanging a pond or the glass roof of a conservatory, or 30 feet up a tree, may present an insuperable problem. Beekeepers also have other commitments and may not be able to drop everything to attend to your request immediately. However we usually try our best, because a feral colony, while unlikely to survive more than year or two, can be quite a nuisance in the meantime.
One final point before you make that call.
There are many different kinds of flying
insect so please be as sure as you can be
that the insects you can see are actually
not wasps* ......
....or bumble bees: these are also under threat
and should not be disturbed. They are
extremely unlikely to sting and their small nests
do not survive over the winter. Please note also that
bumble-bees vary widely in size. While the queen,
mostly seen flying in the Spring, is large,
the workers may be quite small.
If you are still not certain about the identity of the insects you can see, there is further information here.
These pictures of some typical swarms may also help:
MEMBERS OF THE SHROPSHIRE BKA WHO ARE AVAILABLE TO HELP WITH SWARMS ARE LISTED HERE.
Look first for one who shares your postcode. If no one close to you is available, try a neighbouring district. For those of you who live some distance from Shrewsbury, Oswestry BKA, North Shropshire BKA and Ludlow BKA also have members who may be able to help.
This website, with its further links to others, may be helpful to you if you are having trouble with wasps.