Beekeeper’s warning over honey bee swarms

A honey bee swarm
A honey bee swarm
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A beekeeper has urged the public not to ignore any swarms they see to prevent the insects nesting in buildings.

George Woolf, of the Stamford and Bourne Beekeepers Association, has dealt with an unusually high number of honey bee swarms this year.

And he is concerned that people are ignoring swarms they see in gardens or public places.

George said: “I had three or four quite stressed calls last week from people who had watched swarms of bees in their garden go from hedge, to tree, and then in to a chimney or roof space.

“One man had called pest control and was quoted £800 to remove them. Another lady was in tears because they had come down her chimney. There were thousands.”

Last year George was only called to deal with six swarms over the whole summer. But this year he has had almost 20 calls so far.

“It’s very bad this year,” he said. “I’ve never known it anything like this.”

Honey bee swarms are often killed off during cold winters. But George said this year’s mild winter meant swarms had survived and multiplied.

As swarms get bigger a new queen egg is laid. The old queen then flies off with several hundred bees to set up a new swarm elsewhere.

But as long as they are spotted while out in the open, beekeepers can collect a swarm and take them home to a hive.

George said: “Usually a swarm is about three-quarters of the size of a rugby ball. You give it a prod, the bees all fall off and you catch them in a bag.”

If you see a swarm in the open you can call George on 01780 751981. Visit http://stamfordbees.weebly.com/ for more.