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Honeybees

If you see a large mass of bees hanging in a tree, hedge or post about the size of a football and the bees are small and uniformly brown, this will be a swarm of bees.

Honeybees are suffering from the effect of a mite called Varroa upon which several viruses are travelling and which also kills honeybees. Colonies being looked after by beekeepers are being monitored for these mites so appropriate action may be taken to reduce the mite numbers.

Behaviours

Honeybees naturally swarm to increase their progeny. Beekeepers try to prevent this as large amounts of honey are consumed by bees before they decide to swarm. Bees are not only valuable to beekeepers to pass to other beekeepers in the setting up new colony's, they are valuable to everyone as they are the best pollinators of all the bee species.

Swarms

Bees usually swarm between 11am and 4pm. They will swirl in the air and then settle on a fence, tree or bush. They are full of honey and very happy so pose no threat to anyone. Pets and children should be kept at a distance but they may approach and watch what the bees are doing once the bees have settled. Scout bees will then start to look for a new home in an old tree hollow or possibly in a disused chimney. It is important at this stage for you to contact a beekeeper (see below) so that they can try and collect the swarm.

Honeybees collect nectar and store it as honey to be used firstly to feed their offspring and then to store for their own winter use. This is why honey bees can live through the winter, unlike bumblebees. It is only honey excess to the bee's requirements that beekeepers will remove and sell.

If you or your family wish to keep bees, please contact the British Beekeepers Association: bbka@britishbeekeepers.com who will be able to advise you on how to keep bees. The BBKA will also be able to provide telephone details of a nearest beekeeper to collect a honey bee swarm. 

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 31 Aug 2017 at 14:43