A swarm of bees can be quite a scary experience, with as many as 25,000 bees in a swarm. When they arrive it is best to try to keep out of their way.
Why do bee swarms occur?
Bee swarms often occur due to overcrowding in a hive, in this situation a new queen causes the existing queen to leave and find a new home, taking up to 25,000 bees with her. While trying to find a suitable location, they will often swarm around a temporary resting place — such as a tree, fence or hedge.
Will the bees in a swarm sting you?
Bees in a swarm are unlikely to sting you. The bees in the swarm are looking for a new home with new queen, and are therefore not in a defensive mood. In addition, when they leave the main hive they have stocked up on food and this often makes them quite docile. However, there are always exceptions, so always treat bee swarms with caution.
What to do if you see a bee swarm on your property
The best cause of action often depends on where the bees have swarmed and if they have settled into a new home.
Branch or object
If the bees attach to a branch or an object the best thing to do is to call a local bee keeper. As long as conditions are safe, they are usually more than happy to come and collect the new swarm.
If the bees have gone into a chimney, if possible we would recommend lighting the fire with plenty of smoke, this will often move the bees on before they become settled.
Bees will look for a cavity of some kind to set up their new home, for example in between floor boards, or in a loft. They can gain access through small gaps, such as air bricks.
Once the bees have been around for a few days they will defend their new home as if it were their own, so proceed with caution if you have to go close to the entrance to the nest site.
Although not protected, bees are ecologically valuable, so it’s important to preserve them wherever possible. If bees are not causing a problem, they can safely be left alone.
If they are too close for comfort seek advice from an experienced bee keeper or pest controller. We will always seek to leave or remove bees and only destroy them as a very last resort.