What is a swarm?

Swarming is the process by which a new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees. In the prime swarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen. This swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees. Swarming is mainly a spring phenomenon, usually within a two- or three-week period depending on the locale, but occasional swarms can happen throughout the producing season. Secondary afterswarms may happen but are rare.


Swarming is honey bee colonies’ natural means of reproduction. In the process of swarming the original single colony reproduces to two and sometimes more colonies.


Do you need help with a swarm?

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 as we are unable to help remove any other insects such as bees and wasps.


Is the swarm honey bees?


To determine if the swarm that you need help removing is honey bees please follow this identification check-list on the British Beekeepers Association website.












Swarm FAQ’s


Is a swarm of bees dangerous?

  • 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.


Can 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. We do this via our Swarms Liaision Officers:
    • The OBKA Swarm Liaison Officer Maurice Leen (01865 773626;┬áMaurice can be contacted during daylight hours between April and August).
    • The Swarm Liaison Officer West Oxfordshire David Johnson (01865 301189)


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, you will be put in touch with a local beekeeper.


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 as this document describes:
    Swarm Collection Donation 2018v5


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. Whilst councils don’t consider bees (whether honey or not) as pests they do provide control services, that do vary between councils, should your ‘visitors’ turn out to be pests.