Honey Bee Swarming Season

May, June and July is the time of year it is most likely to encounter a Bee swarm.

Northamptonshire Beekeepers’ Association offers a voluntary swarms retrieval service throughout the county as a public service. One of these rare volunteers fortunately lives in Nether Heyford.

For Honey Bee swarm retrieval in Nether Heyford contact the official registered volunteer for the village:

Name: Mr Vernon Cameron-Ilott
Mobile: 07968 340495
Land line: 01327 340631

Should you be present when a swarm arrives, move quietly away –don’t run or flap your arms- remove children and pets and go indoors. As colonies of honeybees become more populous, overcrowding can cause a colony to swarm – usually in May, June or July.

The old queen and approximately half of the colony leave to find a new home. A queen will eventually take over the parent colony. Beekeepers do not want to lose half their workforce and take steps to prevent their colonies from swarming. However, the urge to swarm is strong – it is nature’s way of increasing the chances of survival. Beekeepers have no control over feral colonies. Consequently, 20,000 honeybees may arrive in your garden and cluster on a bush, shrub or tree. This is a swarm.

After flying around they will eventually settle and form a rugby ball shaped cluster. They check that the queen is present and scout bees search for a suitable location for a new home, usually the swarm moves to the selected new site within a few hours.

Although 20,000 bees flying around your garden can be alarming to a non-beekeeper, the danger is not very great. Before the bees leave the parent colony they gorge themselves with honey to provision their journey and in order to build comb. They are “full up” and in “holiday mood”.

Do seek assistance as soon as possible. Once a swarm has gained access to a chimney or vent, it is usually difficult to remove.

Beekeepers are not insured and would be foolish to risk life and limb or risk damage to property. REMEMBER swarm collectors are VOLUNTEERS, they may be at work or otherwise busy and will not always be available to respond immediately. The service is to remove swarms of honeybees from accessible places. The beekeeper acts as an individual and not on behalf of the Association, a charge may be made or a donation to the Association requested. In the latter case if you are a taxpayer you can Gift Aid your donation.

Useful links:

Northamptonshire Beekeepers’ Association:

Swarm Retrival:

British Beekeeper’s Association:

Originally published May 2019

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