Swarming is a perfectly natural phenomenon that is the means with which bees start new colonies. Swarms are not dangerous if left alone and usually move on within a few hours.

If you see a swarm in East London, please call Richard Paton from East London Beekeepers on 07780 554 291. Some beekeepers may charge for this service.

Alternatively, contact the London Beekeepers’ Association for swarms in other parts of London or find a local beekeeper if you’re elsewhere in the UK.

Swarming usually happens during May or June when the colony is rapidly increasing and starting to get overcrowded. They’ll produce a new queen and just before the new queen emerges, the original queen along with most of the flying bees will leave the hive en masse. The sheer quantity of bees and the accompanying noise may look terrifying, but they are not dangerous. They are homeless and their priority is to find somewhere to start their new colony.

Whilst scout bees look for suitable places, the bees will settle on a tree or wall forming a tight ball around the queen. When a suitable place is found, the bees will move into their new home.

Most urban beekeepers try to prevent their bees from swarming by anticipating when they are likely to do so, and then splitting their colonies just before they do. This is easier said than done and the odd swarm does get away. Since cities do not have many suitable places for wild colonies of bees, it is best to ask a beekeeper to collect the swarm.

If you see a swarm, we recommend that you find a local beekeeper. If available, they will come as soon as they can, collect the swarm and re-house them.

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