The Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera) can not survive with out swarming. In May, June and July,
some prime colonies of honey bees instinctively swarm to ensure their survival.
The bees prepare in advance by making queen cells in the hive.
The Queen lays her egg in a Queen cup and the worker bees feed the larvae with a large
amount of royal jelly to make the larvae turn into a Queen.
When the time is right, such as a warm day and the queen cells are well developed,
about 20,000 bees leave the hive taking with them their mother (The Queen) to set up a
new colony some where else.
Beekeepers learn how to control the swarming Instinct of the honey bee,
but some times even the most experienced beekeeper might have one of his hives
swarming, so he then goes and collects the swarm and puts it into a spare bee hive.
Swarm gathered under a garden bench
Arm chair beekeeping? Place a spare hive against the swarm to let the bees walk inside!
Catherine preparing to collect a swarm using a straw skep
Many people confuse the honey bee with other insects such as bumble bees, wasps,
mason bees, solitary bees, mining bees, cuckoo bees, leaf cutter bees.
The honey bee is the only bee that actually swarms, If you have a swarm of honey bees,
they will arrive like a black cloud coming down from the sky and will start to settle in a large
cluster on some thing like a tree, wall, post, hedge or a shrub. This can be as large as a
rugby ball and you will be able to see 1000’s of bees.
If you see a swarm of bees arriving, bring any children and pets inside, close all doors and
windows and watch them settle and marvel at the experience.
The honey bees need to be collected by an experienced bee keeper as soon as possible.
The local police station usually has a list of beekeepers in your area and the secretary of
the local Beekeepers Association has a more comprehensive list, they will usualy charge
for their service.
Modern Technology in Swarm Control
In Febuary 2011 the local BBC came along to film me at my apiary to complement an article about using your mobile phone to text you when your hive is about to swarm, I was not very impressed with it. See link below.
If you notice that you have a number of bees coming in and out of a hole in the garden they
are unlikely to be honey bees, these are best left alone and protected from pets and children,
they do not swarm and they will all have gone by the end of summer and will not return next
year. Bumble bees are a protected species.
A wasps nest is made of paper and is fragile to handle.
These can be removed by the Council (see details) but if they are not a problem they are best left alone, wasps do not swarm and they will all die in Autumn (exept for the mated queens) and will not return next year.
For more Information about wasps click on About Bees and then click on Wasps