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Newbattle Beekeepers Association

Swarms - This is now Closed for 2023

There are over 250 types of bee in the UK only one of which is a honey bee (Apis Mellifera)


Don't panic! Swarms aren't dangerous if left alone. It's a perfectly natural thing for healthy honey bee colonies to swarm in May, June and July. Up to 75% of the bees leave to start a new colony.

Please note that we can only deal with swarms of honeybees, like in the pictures above. Anything that doesn't look like these pictures are unlikely to be swarms of honeybees. We cannot deal with:

  • Wasps. They have smooth slender bodies, are bright yellow and black, can be quite aggressive and are attracted to sugary things, especially towards the end of their life cycle in late summer. They never form swarms. If they are out of the way and don't disturb people they can be safely left - they will nest elsewhere next year. If they are a nuisance, a pest control company will be able to remove them for you.

  • Bumble bees. Large are furry and depending on the species live in small nests of up to 200 or so, often in cracks in walls, bird boxes, or in holes in the ground. They never swarm - if you see them, coming in and out of a hole in the wall or ground they have a nest there and will generally just mind their own business. Our advice is to leave them if at all possible, to finish their short life cycle. They are not aggressive, live in very small colonies, rarely sting and will be gone by summer. They are important pollinators and many species are declining so we hope you will be able to live with them.

You can read more on all types of bumblebees at: Bumblebee Conservation Trust

  • Solitary bees. As the name suggests, live on their own, often in cracks in a wall. Again, these are important pollinators, are harmless and will be gone by the end of summer. They are nothing to worry about.

  • Nesting honey bees. If you see a steady stream of bees coming in and out of a hole in a wall or tree - and they are not bumble bees, these are likely to be nesting honey bees. Swarms always look like the photos above. It is extremely difficult to remove bees once they've established themselves. If they are a problem, we may be able to help.

How do I recognise a honey bee?

Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera)

  • Do they have golden brown or dark brown bands?
  • Are they slightly furry?
  • Are they formed in a clump hanging from a tree, gate post, chimney?
  • Are there what seems thousands of them swirling around in the air?

IF YES: These are a swarm of honey bees.

Honey bees are what beekeepers deal with, and the swarm size can be more than 10,000 bees (clustered together about the shape & size of a rugby ball!) so you’d definitively know if you have a swarm of honey bees. A full colony will number 50—60,000 bees. After landing in a resting place scout bees will look for a new residence in a cavity of between 30 and 50 litres. Beekeepers often set up what are called 'bait hives' of that capacity to attract any swarms to move into the space. 

If you need further information please email:   Newbattle Bees giving your full postal address, including postcode, and telephone number, and a description of where, and how high the swarm is located. One of our members can then assess what equipment is needed and how easy it will be to collect. Attaching a good quality photo to your email would be useful too.

Beedentify is designed to help you work out what type of bees or wasps you have in your home or garden, and provide you with information on what can be done about them if they are causing you a problem. Click on the link to the right to visit Beedentify.

If the swarm is in the Midlothian Area phone Ian Evans on: 07516513770 or Loraine Aitken on:  07595913206 if you are unable to contact Ian or Lorraine you can email swarmpatrol

If the swarm is in another area contact details for the closest Beekeepers Association to you can be found by clicking on the link below 

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