Bee swarm collection in Shropshire and the Welsh Marches

Honey bee swarm?

Has a honey bee swarm arrived near your home or business? A swarm is generally found resting temporarily in a cluster in a hedge or tree, on the car or elsewhere. This can be a daunting experience unless you are a beekeeper. But bees are generally well-fed and pretty laid-back at this time so don’t panic! Trisha and Paul at Camlad Apiaries are highly experienced at swarm removals so keep your distance, leave the dog safely in the house, and phone Trisha on 07812 518822.

We offer a timely, experienced service in Shropshire and Powys covering the area roughly around Shrewsbury, Church Stretton, Craven Arms, Welshpool, Newtown, Knighton, Montgomery and Ludlow. Using a range of proper equipment we also have public liability insurance for work involving honey bees.

Collecting the Swarm

After a few straight-forward questions to ensure your visitors are definitely honey bees, we will arrange a time to collect them. On arrival we will evaluate the situation. Then we will explain what we propose to do, answering any questions you may have.

As experienced beekeepers we always wait until dusk before removing the straw skep or box now safely housing the bee swarm from site. This is extremely important as any stragglers who were out fetching nectar at the time will be left queenless and become increasingly defensive until they die. It is not uncommon for us to be called on to collect such a “swarm”, a very sad situation.

Honey Bees House Hunt too

You will have heard the saying “prevention is better than cure”. This is certainly true with a honey bee swarm. Be observant and contact us if you see bees “checking out” your chimney, roof or other possible future nest site. This is really important and we can usually prevent bees moving into the structure of your house with a suitably placed “bait” hive. The outcome is also likely to be better for the bees.

Established Bee Colonies

If a bee swarm has already taken up residence in a cavity or similar then we will offer free phone advice and practical help where the outlook for the honey bees is good and a site visit indicates that it is safe to do so.

Removing honey bees once established in the structure of a house is time-consuming and expensive. However, if dealt with promptly, a bee swarm can sometimes be safely flushed out of a working chimney or wood stove flue. A full scaffold is often needed for bee “cut outs” and a builder and/or roofer needed to make repairs afterwards.

Sometimes if the colony is in an awkward spot, the bees can be removed over several weeks. This is called a “trap out” where a funnel and small hive are strapped to the wall or flat roof by the bees’ entrance. This is rarely acceptable to the householder due to the time and mileage involved.

Further Information

The swarm season can be extremely busy and at the busiest time of year for hands-on beekeepers. You may hear of “natural” or “let-alone” beekeepers: many of these leave their bees to swarm at will causing public nuisance and sometimes considerable expense and often an unhappy outcome for the bee swarms. Additionally as they are not checked for signs of disease and parasites they can form disease pockets affecting other colonies locally.

Beekeeper Training Courses

Here at Camlad Apiaries we are very proactive and experienced at preventing our own bees from swarming and causing nuisance. Are you a beekeeper in Shropshire or mid-Wales or surrounding areas? Are you uncertain about swarm control methods or are your bees always ahead of the game? You may like to consider a one-to-one bespoke beekeeping short course to help develop the skills needed. Trisha is a BBKA Master Beekeeper having completed a series of theory and practical exams and would be pleased to help.

Will you take Bumble Bees?

As the demands on our time are so great during the swarm season we will offer phone advice about bumble bees and solitary bees but will generally not remove them due to their short life cycle. Only the tree bumble bee, Bombus hypnorum, is sometimes defensive but each situation is different and most can be left in peace.

We are not insured to destroy wasp nests: kindly call a pest controller for wasps if sited somewhere awkward or if a member of the family carries an adrenaline injector for wasp stings. For much of their life cycle wasps are very useful about the garden and only cause nuisance towards the end of their lives.

What will it Cost?

We collect swarms from private households for a donation for fuel and out-of-pocket expenses. Fuel expenses of, on average, 0.40 GBP a mile are standard for charity volunteers as a guideline. The general public often believe that a swarm is very valuable: in reality this is very rarely the case.

Bees often swarm with an old queen who may be replaced by the bees. They may carry diseases (some notifiable) or heavy burdens of varroa mites and associated viruses. Finally, the swarm once established may prove to be highly aggressive which will not show for a couple of weeks and need urgent requeening with one of our calm, local queens: this is sometimes why they were not attended to in the first place!

In poor weather, or if the swarm is small, the colony may need feeding, and, of course, need a clean, watertight and properly sited hive to move into. All this takes time and money. Swarms are collected as a service to the public.

A prime honey bee swarm in a hawthorn tree, a common landing place!