Swarms

Please note we are unable to remove established bee colonies in buildings, structures, at heights and inaccessible locations that pose a safety risk to our members.

Help

If you spot a swarm, don’t panic. Help is at hand. In the Oswestry area please contact one of our members below who will be happy to be of assistance:

  • Glyn Jones (Oswestry) 01691 654448 (07790 859170)
  • Anthony Rigby (Llansantfraid) 01691 828851 (Mobile: 07751 163054),
  • Barry Kimble (Treflach) 07935 644290
  • Chris Richards (Pant) 01691 830702
  • Dave Thorley (Glyn Ceiriog) 07970 909252
  • David Church (Pant) 01691 830125
  • Mike Ellis (Overton) 07952 913440
  • Simon Woolgrove (Oswestry) 07818 091488
  • Jenny Bradford (Llanrhaeadr Y M) 07814 041238
  • Russell Davies (Arddleen) 01938 590481 (07929 083712)
  • Richard Lewis (Chirk and Weston Rhyn) 01691 773431 (Mobile: 07968 863265)
  • William Denne (Llanrhaeadr Y M ) 01691 860548

 

Bumble Bees

Queen and workersIf your ‘swarm’ is of less then, say, 30 bees and they appear to have a nest in the ground or in gaps in a wall, they may well be bumble bees and are generally harmless if not aggravated.

If your bees are bumble bees you should do your best to protect them from any harm. They are very useful for pollination of your garden, and especially if you have a veg plot, you will be grateful for them.

Remember the nest will only be occupied until the end of summer, when the queens will disperse to hibernate and the rest will die. They will not usually return the following year.

Wasps

If they are narrow-bodied, very bright yellow and black striped, they are likely to be wasps.

Due to the greater numbers and aggressiveness of wasps you may consider destruction of the nest is necessary, and you should contact Shropshire, Powys or Wrexham Council, depending on your area.

Harvesting a swarm

Swarms are, for many beekeepers, the highlight of the beekeeping year.

For others, they are just a damned nuisance. For the majority of us, depending on several factors such as weather, distance, spare equipment and other commitments, it is usually somewhere in between.

But whatever your personal view of it, swarming is a key part of the honey bees’ existence – without the swarming instinct the honey bee would just not survive the predations of hunger, disease and other animals.

Cloud of bees

A swarm in flight gives an impression of great chaos as many as 25,000 bees fill the air. Unfortunately, the makers of films have done nothing for their reputation, but a swarm of bees does not present any danger if you give them space and don’t panic.

Once settled on a branch, bush or whatever, the cluster of bees, with the queen in there somewhere, appears much less threatening. The bees have tanked up with honey before leaving their old home and they are in an amiable mood.

However, a swarm that has been clustered for a day or more may have become hungry and, particularly if it is raining and cold, may not welcome a close approach.

The first swarm of the year from a hive usually contains the old queen. This is termed a prime swarm and may weigh several pounds. These are the largest and contain as many as 25,000 bees.

Subsequent swarms in the same year from the same hive, contain a virgin queen, and become progressively smaller as each successive cast leaves the depleted colony.

Collecting the swarm

Swarm on low branchIf the swarm is hanging on a low branch, it is a simple matter to shake the bees into a box or the traditional skep.

It is a more complex matter if the swarm has settled on a wire fence, a fence post or other rigid surface and will require smoking, brushing or scooping up.

Once in a box the swarm can be taken to its new home as it is or, better still, transferred into a hive box.

Housing the colony

There are two methods of achieving this: either dumping it directly into the hive, or by shaking the bees on to a cloth laid out in front of the hive entrance.

The great heap of bees soon shows a general drift up towards the hive entrance, and the bees move in with their queen. Some bees stand at the entrance, bottoms up and outwards, distributing a ‘come home’ scent with their wings.

The bees immediately begin adapting their new home to their own needs, building comb in which they store honey and the queen will lay her eggs.

These steps are shown in this photo gallery.