Queen marking colour for 2017 - YELLOW

Honey bee


Hover fly

Bumble bee

Honeybee lookalikes

Bees in Nest Boxes

We are increasingly finding bees in nest boxes in East Devon.  These bees are more than likely to be Tree Bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum) which are a relatively new species in this area.  They are between 10 and 14mm long, have rust / orange coloured hairs on the upper part of the body and a whitish tail.

They pollinate all
kinds of fruit, flowers
and vegetables so,
if possible, try to
leave well alone.
They will vacate the
nest box at the end
of the season.

The Swarming Process

Swarming is a natural process by which bees multiply their colonies. Usually a swarm will emerge from the hive and land on a nearby branch, bush or post, or even under the eaves of a roof, where they will form a large hanging cluster of bees. They will send out a few scout bees, who will look for a new site to build their home. Whilst waiting for the scout bees to complete their task, the swarm is normally docile as all the bees have taken on stores of food for the journey and they need to conserve supplies.

The swarm will stay in the cluster for a period of time that may be as short as a few minutes, or may be hours or even days. Finally, when the swarm has decided where its new home will be they will take to the air and fly off in the right direction.

If the cluster is within reach then a beekeeper may be able to capture the swarm in a skep or box and take them to an apiary where they can be housed in a hive. Once the swarm has moved off to their new home it may be more difficult to capture them.

This photo shows a swarm being ‘hived’ by emptying them onto a cloth sloping up to their new front door.  

Bees will naturally climb upwards and seek a dark cavity .  At first all is confusion, then they turn and head up the slope and disappear into the hive!

If you’re lucky you may see the queen among the throng.  Once the queen has taken up residence you can be fairly certain the swarm will not fly off again.

‘Hiving’ a swarm

This is what a swarm of honey bees looks like

Other insects can sometimes be confused with honey bees.  Bumble bees, solitary bees, wasps, hornets and hover flies may have similar yellow and brown marking but will not be present in such large numbers as honey bees in a swarm.

Honey bees do not nest in the ground so insects coming and going from burrows will not be honeybees.  See ‘Bees in Nest Boxes’ below.

For further detailed information on swarms visit the BBKA website by clicking on the following link.

British Beekeepers swarm advice

What to do if you have a swarm of bees

Please contact one of our swarm collectors:
   Operating Area                   Contact Details

EX3, EX8, EX9

Bryony Hewson
07980 271 177
Dan Hewson
07800 853 112

Ottery, West Hill, Sidmouth
EX5, EX8, EX9, EX10, EX11

John Badley
01404 814 852

Ottery, West Hill, Sidmouth
EX5, EX8, EX9, EX10, EX11

Nick Silver
01404 812 478
07834 483 910


Colin Sherwood
01404 42130

Payhembury & Honiton

Keith Bone
01404 841 629

Axminster & Colyton
EX10, EX12, EX13, EX24, DT7

Richard Simpson
07900 492 242


Peter Field
07739 936 309


Simon Foster
01404 881 787

EX13, EX14, EX24

Alasdair Bruce
01404 881 589

DT7, DT6, EX13

Colin Osborne
01297 443 915

East Devon Beekeepers

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