Q. I have a swarm of bees that has appeared in my garden, house or outbuilding. What should I do?
A. First, check if what you have are bees or wasps. This may sound rather obvious, but it is an easy mistake to make. Wasps and honeybees are about the same size, but wasps have alternating black and bright yellow body stripes. Honeybees are brown, with paler brown or dirty yellow bands on the body. Bumblebees are furry. (Use the Quick Links at the top of this page for images of honeybee, bumblebee and wasp.) If you have wasps or bumblebees, then please refer to our main FAQ page using the Quick LInks at the top right of this page.
Q. OK, I have checked and they are honeybees. What should I do next?
If the bees are already lodged in a chimney, roof or wallspace, and have been there for some time (weeks, months or even years), then they are a well established colony, with combs of honey and young bees.
If the bees have only appeared within the last few days, or if they are clustered in the open hanging from a branch of a tree or bush, then you have a newly arrived swarm, with bees only, and probably no combs built yet. (Use the Quick Link to see an image of a swarm clustered.)
In either case, if the bees are causing a danger to you, children or livestock, then call your Local Authority (Council) Pest Control Officer or an independent pest control company. They will probably make a charge for this.
Q. They are not a danger, or I would prefer to offer them to a local beekeeper. How do I find one?
The best way to find a local beekeeper is to contact the secretary of your Area Beekeeping Association. You will find a list of secretaries for Area Beekeeping Associations in Scotland on the Local Associations Page using the Quick Link section on this page. While a local beekeeper will do their best to help, there are situations - particularly when bees are lodged happily in a chimney or wall space - when removing the bee colony successfully can be time-consuming, difficult and success cannot be assured. The removal of a free-hanging swarm in the open is usually much simpler however, and you are more likely to find a local beekeeper who is prepared to come and remove it for you. Do please bear in mind however that beekeepers are not a free pest control service, and in some situations you may still have to call in a pest control company to deal with a well-established colony.
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