W&DBKA Honeybee Swarm Advice

WDBKA - Swarms

Find a Swarm Collector

Of the 250 types of bee in the UK only the honeybee swarms. A swarm of honeybees contains many thousands of bees and are normally seen in a clump hanging from a tree or gatepost, just like in the picture. Individual honeybees are about the same size as a housefly, they have golden brown or dark brown bands and are slightly furry.

Beekeepers work only with honeybees and our volunteer swarm collectors are only able to collect, and find a home for, a swarm of honeybees. They are not pest controllers so DO NOT collect or destroy nests of: wasps, bumblebees, solitary bees or hornets.

We get many calls each year from people reporting “a swarm of honeybees” only to find a wasp nest or colony of bumblebees in a bird nest box.

Check You Have A Swarm Before Reporting

A swarm collector can make a charge for time and travel expenses; so make sure you definitely have a swarm of honeybees before you call a collector. For more help with identification: click here.

Contact a Wokingham and District Beekeepers’ Association swarm collector: List of Collectors pdf.

Often Mistakenly Reported As “A Swarm”


These are the smooth, yellow insects with black stripes that come after your picnic food. They have a round paper-like nest that may be found hanging from a tree, inside a shed or in your loft. Please contact your local council for advice on termination.

Solitary Bees

Some types of solitary bees can be mistaken for honeybees but do not swarm. A small number (10 or more) may live close together. They are not aggressive and rarely sting. They will disappear by mid to late summer.


These are bigger, rounder and fluffier than honeybees. They are generally not aggressive and rarely sting. Tree bumblebees often set up home in bird boxes and male bees waiting for virgin queens to emerge can be mistaken for a swarm. This is for a short time only, but if you get too close at this time they can be aggressive. They will disappear by mid to late summer.

If this information has sparked an interest in honeybees you might like to join an open inspection session or even become a member of the association – if so please…