Wisborough Green Beekeepers Association

a Division of West Sussex Beekeepers Association

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Honey Bee Swarms and Other Bees
During the spring and summer beekeepers deal with a lot of enquiries from the general public about "swarms" or "bees", and the purpose of these notes is to help those non-beekeepers who are confronted with the problem.

Please read the Identification Notes, and try to make your own assessment about what you have before calling a beekeeper. As a guide, many calls before the end of June are for bumblebees, and after that they are for wasps due to the nest rapidly expanding, but of course there are calls for honey bees as well.

I have a swarm - What should I do?
If they are flying
Don't panic. Move quietly away and make sure nobody is in their flight path. The only reason they are likely to sting is if they are squashed or threatened. They should settle, and in a few minutes will form the normal swarm as in the images here. When they have settled they should be no problem. Warn others not to go near them. In reality by the time you have read this the bees would have settled, but the same advice applies when they move on.
If they have settled
A swarm could settle only for a few minutes before flying away, or it could be several days. In general swarms only fly between mid morning and mid afternoon. Contact one of the people on the list below as soon as possible, but please give them the following information:-

If the swarm flies off after you have contacted a beekeeper please let them know quickly in order to save a journey. Please remember that most beekeepers are amateurs and may not be able to attend immediately. The removal of swarms is an unpaid service unlike pest control companies where a callout may attract a fee. Although a charge is not made, a contribution towards travelling expenses would be appreciated, whether they are bees or not.

It is much easier for a beekeeper to collect a swarm when it is clustered than when it is in a new home, so don't delay. In general, bees in buildings are very difficult to remove, especially chimneys and cavity walls, as it usually involves dismantling something. Bees in buildings are very rarely a problem and within reason would probably be best left alone.

All honey bees now have a parasite (Varroa destructor) and a newly swarmed colony is unlikely to live more than about three years before dying out.

Although all the those on the list are members of Wisborough Green Beekeepers Association we are unable to accept responsibility for problems that occur during the removal of swarms.

It must be understood that dealing with some swarms is not straightforward and the beekeeper may often need help and the use of equipment, such as a ladder.

If you have a swarm please contact someone on the following list:-

Beekeeper Location Phone number(s) Area covered
Roger Patterson Slinfold 01403 790 637 West Sussex/South Surrey
    07976 306 492         "                         "
Tom Moore/Gordon Allan Petworth 01798 343 470 Petworth and surrounding villages
    07984 607 214         "                         "
Daisy Loxwood 07980 280 852 Horsham to Loxwood and surrounding villages
Tom Weston West Chiltington 01798 813 547 West Chiltington and surrounding villages
    07710 608 635         "                                 "
Maggie Turner Fontwell 01243 545696 Arundel and surrounding villages
    07752 847631         "                         "
Martin Hill   07966 509 424 West Sussex and Hampshire Border
Gordon Owen Sutton 01798 869 284 Sutton/Pulborough
    07977 577061         "                         "
David Elliott Haslemere 01428 651 200 Haslemere
    07774 926363         "
Neil Mariner Fernhurst 01428 642851 10 mile radius of Fernhurst
    07836 263514         "                         "