Swarming is a natural process, occurring from April through to August, sometimes later. It is the way bees expand their population by dividing the colony to make two from one. Inside the protective ball in the picture on the left is the old queen, who has left her colony with new 'baby' queen cells in it, and has taken half her 'family' and is off to find a new home. Around the swarm will be lots of bees flying in and out of the ball. These are the 'searcher' bees, who are looking for their new home and coming back to 'check-in' with her Majesty and report what they've found. The bees are usually quite calm during this process and should not bother you unless you get too close or try to disturb the ball. They can remain in this stage balled up as a group for several days, or fly off in a matter of minutes, if they find somewhere suitable.
This is the time to call me! 07711 517896
I offer a swarm collection service, free of charge. Please just call me and I shall endeavour to be with you as soon as practicable (Swarm season is a busy time of year for the beekeeper). In the meantime, keep people at least 3-4 meters away from the ball and leave them alone. Usually, I can attend within a few hours and attempt to gather in the bees including the queen and put them in my skep (a wicker basket). I normally then leave them in the skep til early evening time and come back and collect them. This means I can capture all the searcher bees too, and you don't end up with a couple of hundred disgruntled 'queen-less' bees buzzing around the following day. Please note that if the bees have entered your house/loft/chimney, it may be very hard to displace them. Calling me sooner rather than later is advisable.
The best part of swarm collecting. I take the bees away to my quarantine apiary, where I can check them later for diseases etc and re-home them into a hive. This is called the 'marching in' process (left) and is fascinating to watch. I keep several hives pre-prepped for this occasion and place the bees on the cotton sheet (shown) in front of the hive, whereupon they march up the ramp into their new home. If I can spot the queen amongst her daughters, I give her a lift and place her in the hive. They all then march in after her and settle in to their new home. And a new colony is begun! (Note our 'young beekeeper' in training)
Please note I do not deal with WASPS, HORNETS or BUMBLE BEES. I am happy to offer advice on displacing them but for Wasps and Hornets, I suggest you call a Pest Control Officer. For Bumble Bees who have taken up residence, gently discourage them if you can. If they are not directly bothering you, and you can cope with their presence til Autumn, they'll usually disperse by October, whereupon you can break up the nest to discourage them from that site for next year. (Picture of Bumble Bee)