Swarming is the process by which a new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees. In the prime swarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen. This swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees. Swarming is mainly a May – June phenomenon, but swarms can happen throughout the producing season. Secondary after swarms may also happen but are usually smaller and are accompanied by one or more virgin queens.
Swarming is the natural means of reproduction of honey bee colonies. In the process of swarming the original single colony reproduces to two and sometimes more colonies. Swarms settle 20–30 m away from the hive for a few days and will then depart for a new nest site after getting information from scout bees. Scout bees search for suitable cavities in which to construct the swarm’s home. Successful scouts will then come back and report the location of suitable nesting sites to the other bees.
Do you have a Swarm?
Please identify what type of flying insects you have before calling us.
Unfortunately we are not able to collect wasps, hornets, solitary bees or bumblebees, you should contact your local authority or pest control contractor to have them removed. Please see ‘Identifying Bees’ for more help or view the British Beekeepers Association website BBKA Swarm Identification
Arranging for a Swarm Collection
If you see a swarm of Honey Bees please call our Swarm Co-ordinator Gill Atkins on 07951 123 365. She will arrange for a local beekeeper to come out and collect the swarm for a small charge of £10 to cover costs.
Bees normally swarm on a nice sunny day in the late morning or afternoon. Collecting a swarm will involve a minimum of two trips. The beekeeper will arrive and hopefully get the swarm into a box. The bees will then be left until all the flying bees have returned and made their way into the box. The bees should not be taken away immediately or a large number of ‘orphans’ will be left behind and they will die. The beekeeper will return at dusk to collect them, which can be quite late in June.
If you do not live in the Meon Valley and have a swarm, you will be able to find a beekeeper in your area by going to The British Beekeepers Association web site www.bbka.org.uk