Why is it important to protect a swarm of honey bees?
Honey bees are important to the production of food because of their part in pollination. Approximately 30% of our food is pollinated by bees. Honey bees are currently under threat because they are vulnerable to infestation by Varroa Destructor which is a parasitic mite that lives on the honey bee and has part of its life cycle in the hive. It feeds on developing bees and causes them to be deformed. This weakens colonies, makes them more susceptible to viruses, and causes them to die out.
Swarming is the natural method of reproduction of the honey bee. Half the bees and the old queen leave the hive and set up a new colony elsewhere. They are not usually aggressive at this stage. If you ﬁnd a swarm of honey bees please help them by doing one of three things:
- contact the local beekeeping association by email
- phone the local beekeeping association on 020 8367 8452 or 07930 829856
- contact the local Council, who will pass you on to a local beekeeper.
Please be sure you have honey bees. Honey bees are predominately brown and black; some are golden brown and black. You may encounter them in a space where they have set up home such as a compost bin, or they may be hanging in a cluster in a bush. If a swarm has been there for some time they may have built wild comb. The so called 'killer' bees, or Africanised honeybees, are not present in the UK.
Bumblebees are large and appear round and furry; they live in nests underground such as under a shed or compost heap. They are a valuable addition to garden wildlife, effective pollinators of fruit crops, and are also a protected species. If they are not a nuisance they should be left to their own devices.
Wasps are sometimes confused with honey bees. They are yellow and black and have a thin waist. Wasp nests are often found in a dry cavity such as a loft space. The nests are made of chewed wood and have the appearance of a papery ball. If you have a wasps nest that is a nuisance, please call the local Council, or a pest control company. Beekeepers generally are not able to deal with wasp nests.