Every summer, we receive frequent phone calls from householders concerned about bees.
“We’ve got a swarm of bees in the garden, bees in the chimney or roof, bees in the shed, bees in the compost heap, bees in the bird box, bees in the lawn, bees burrowing into the house walls. We are worried that the grandchildren, the neighbours or the dog might get stung”.
Swarms of honeybees
Swarming is how one colony of honeybees increases to two colonies.
On a chosen day, usually around mid-day, during May or June the bees “swarm”. A cloud of bees in their thousands leaves their beehive for the last time. The old queen leaves with them as they seek a new home, leaving a new queen and about half the colony of bees in the beehive. The swarm settles on a bush, fence post, tree branch etc, while the “scout bees” search for a new home. This may be in a hollow tree, or sometimes the eaves or roof of a house or the chimney.
It is at this stage that many non-beekeepers panic, as a cloud of bees invades their property.
Don’t panic! Swarming bees are intent on one thing only, finding a new home and not seeking to sting anyone. Within a few minutes, the queen will have landed and the worker bees will follow her into their new home, or will form a protective ball around her, if she has settled upon a branch, wall etc.
SWARM HELP… A list of honeybee swarm collectors in North Wales is here swarm-collectors 2020
We do not clear other types of bees.
We do not clear wasp nests.
Beekeepers may make a charge to cover travelling expenses.
Beekeepers may decline to attend during the lockdown.
If you are in England, please see the BBKA Swarm Co-ordinators in England list: www.britishbee.org.uk/swarm_collection.php
Other types of bees
Our advice is always the same: Live with the bees if you can, and be glad that they have chosen your garden. We need more bees, and they are very unlikely to sting.
Bees in the bird box
Most probably these are bumblebees. How lucky you are to have these nesting in your garden! The birds no longer need the nest box, and it is just the right size for bumblebees, and too small for honeybees. Just enjoy watching the bumblebees coming and going, busy pollinating the flowers in your garden.
Note: Our members do not remove bumblebee nests.
Bees in the chimney or roof
These probably are honeybees. If they have only just arrived in the chimney (May or June) you might be able to drive them away by lighting a fire in the fireplace. If they have been there more than a day, they will have started to make honeycomb and they will be impossible to remove alive. We know of houses that have had honeybees in the roof for decades without any problems. We always encourage householders to live with them.
Our members do not climb onto roofs in search of bees.
Bees in the shed
These may be honeybees, but are more likely to be wasps. Wasps make a paper nest, with the entrance at the bottom. Honeybees make parallel beeswax combs, and you will see the bees on the combs. Wasps can be a nuisance, but they help the gardener by eating aphids. The nest can be destroyed with a wasp spray, obtainable from any hardware shop. Wait until evening, when the wasps are in the nest. Squirt the spray into the entrance. Next day, remove the dead nest.
Bees in the compost heap
These are probably bumble bees. We need more bumble bees. They are very important pollinators of fruit and vegetables. They work at lower temperatures than honeybees, and they should never be destroyed. If necessary, make a new compost heap elsewhere. Only the queen lives through the winter. Click here for more information on bumblebees.
Bees in the lawn
These are probably solitary miner bees. Click here for information.
Bees burrowing into the house walls
These are probably mason bees. Click here for info.
Updated May 2020