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Identify your swarm

Use our guide to check whether you are seeing a swarm of honey bees. For all other types of other bees and other insects - call your local council.

About Our Service

Our Swarm Liaision Officers coordinate swarm collection through Oxfordshire. Read our swarm FAQs below for more information.

Call for Help

Ready to take action? Contact us now to get help removing your honey bee swarm.

Find contact details here.

The OBKA Swarm Liaison Officer

Maurice Leen (01865 773626 or send an email via the contact form)

Maurice can be contacted during daylight hours between April and August.  


The Swarm Liaison Officer West Oxfordshire

David Johnson (01865 301189 or send an email via the contact form)



Please note: During the swarming season (April-July) the Swarm Liaison Officer will be very busy and may not be able to take your call straight away. Please leave a telephone message (include your postcode and phone number - please repeat twice) and you will be contacted as soon as possible. An initial assessment of the situation will be made and, if appropriate, will refer you to a local beekeeper.

Honeybee swarm obka

Beekeepers are often approached about winged, flying creatures, especially in the spring and summer period, when these generate a lot of activity.  The most common insects are honeybees, bumblebees and wasps. Our experienced beekeepers can collect honey bee swarms, provided the swarm is accessible, but will not collect other bees or insects.This section shows you how to tell them apart and what to do after that. (Acknowledgement: Contents Provided by BBKA)


Step 1 - Bumblebees

Swarm1 obka

Bumblebees are often confused with honeybees. However they are rounder, larger and furrier and come with a variety of coloured stripes across the end of their tails. Are they in a bird box, under the decking, in the compost? Leave them alone if possible. Bumblebees are an important pollinator and rarely sting. Bumblebees are under threat of extinction.

Please do not call our beekeepers about bumblebees. They are unable to help you with these and will not collect/remove them.

For advice on moving bumblebee nests please go to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website where you will find a great deal of information.


Step 2 - Solitary bees

Swarm1 obka

Are there lots of small bees popping in and out of the wall or very small holes in the ground. Do they have a reddy/brown bottom? Are they almost black? These are Solitary Bees, they are harmless and as their name suggest live more or less alone. They aren't interested in you and should be left alone.For more information click here.

Please do not call our beekeepers about solitary bees. They are unable to help you with these and will not collect/remove them.

See more information.


Step 3 - Wasps

Swarm1 obka

Is it bright yellow with black stripes? Very smooth mainly yellow with black stripes? Is it in the roof of your house? Are they coming from a round nest in a tree? Is there a nest in the shed? Do they have a high pitched buzz? Are they after all things sweet? Then these are probably Wasps.

Please do not call our beekeepers about wasps. They are unable to help you with these and will not collect/remove them.



Step 4 - Hornets

Swarm1 obka

Are they very big with a loud buzz? Are they black and brown with a hint of orange? Living in the roof or shed? Do they have a very big curved tail? These are Hornets.

Please do not call our beekeepers about hornets. They are unable to help you with these and will not collect/remove them.




Step 5 - Honey Bees

Swarm1 obka


Honeybees are small and vary in colour from golden brown to almost black.

If you have honey bees at you home use the photo below to see what a swarm looks like.

If you are looking at a similar swarm then please contact our Swarm Collectors  who will provide appropriate help or advice with your honey bee swarm.


Do You Need Help With a Swarm? Our Most Frequently Asked Questions Below

OBKA offers a honey bee swarm collection service. This service is managed on a wholly voluntary basis by the OBKA Swarms Liaison Officers and local beekeepers. Please read this section carefully and try and identify whether they are honey bees before contacting us.

I have a Honey Bee Swarm and Need Help

Swarm Questions

- What do I do if I have a swarm of bees? A swarm of bees can appear very alarming, however if you exercise a little caution they are normally of no danger to humans or animals. - Can someone come and collect the swarm? Yes, on most occasions a swarm of honey bees can be collected by a beekeeper who wants to increase their stock of bees. The exception to this is when:
  • there is no beekeeper available to collect the swarm
  • the bees you have are not honey bees - see how to identify honey bees
  • the honey bees have settled in an inaccessible place, for example if they are deep inside a chimney - we can advise about this
Please note that no guarantee can be given that someone will be available to attend or that the beekeeper will collect the swarm. The final decision as to whether a swarm is safe or viable to collect lies solely with the attending beekeeper. We only collect honeybees and under no circumstances will we destroy honeybees or any other types of bee/insect.
- How do I get a beekeeper to collect my swarm? OBKA is a charitable organisation and offers a non-profit service that links members of the public - with a swarm of honey bees; to a beekeeper, who want to increase their stocks of bees. Contact a Swarms Liaision Officer.
- Is there a charge for the collection of my swarm? If a beekeeper is available to collect your swarm no charge is made for collection. We do however encourage a charitable donation to go towards the costs of the call-out and our time.

- What can I do if the bees/insects I have cannot be collected  and they need to be removed? If the bees/insects you have cannot be collected by a local beekeeper, you can contact the Environmental Health Department of your local district council. Below are links to the appropriate departments of the five Oxfordshire district councils. While none of the councils consider bees (whether honey or not) as pests, they do provide control services (though this varies between councils), should your 'visitors' turn out to be pests.

Cherwell District Council - Pest Control
Oxford City Council - Pest Control
South Oxfordshire District Council - Pest Control
Vale of White Horse District Council - Pest Control
West Oxfordshire District Council - Pest Control


Still need help? Check out our forum and tutorials section of our site