Bee Swarm Removal:
What To Do and How

Bee swarm removal is not something for the unequipped to try themselves, but that does not mean you have to call in the pest control company or the bee exterminator!  It’s possible to have bees removed humanely and sometimes even free of charge - some beekeepers do not charge for this service.

Above - a honey bee swarm

A bee swarm is a fascinating sight, although it may unnerve some people!  A dense cloud of bees whirling into the air - even on a warm sunny day, can cause panic.  However, the first point to note is that a bee swarm is NOT looking to attack you. The bees are merely looking for a new place to make a home. In doing so, a honey bee swarm may rest in a particular place whilst scout bees go off to find a suitable place to make a permanent nest.

Although the bees are NOT looking to sting you, they can become aggressive if they feel under threat.  Keep your distance and you should not be bothered by the bees.

If the swarm is not in an inconvenient place and you are able to ‘sit it out’ then do so.  Sometimes, you don't need to do anything. Simply leave the bees alone, and give them a wide berth. Keep children and pets away.  After a while, the swarm will probably move on by itself - usually within a  day or two.

However, if the bees are worrying you, or you cannot wait it out then take note of the following guidance:

Bee Swarm Removal: What to do, and what not to do

  • Firstly, do NOT spray a pesticide or any other chemicals. This could provoke the bees, and is completely unnecessary. Also, given the difficulties faced by all bees including honey bees, we need to take care to preserve the ones we have – or look forward to massively rising food prices, as well as failure of flower and garden crops.
  • Do not throw sticks, rocks or other items at the swarm in an attempt to drive it away!  You'll only aggravate the bees!
  • Do not attempt any methods of bee control other than the advice I am going to give you here.
  • Firstly, locate a local beekeeping group and contact them.  Afterall, they are the ultimate experts at bee swarm removal!
  • Enquire whether any members of the beekeeping group would like to remove a swarm.
  • Some beekeepers may charge for honey bee removal, others will do it free of charge, but you should confirm in advance.  The beekeeper may take the swarm and start up a new colony in a vacant hive, and will benefit from the bees. 

    On the other hand, they may be doing you a favour, by taking the bees for you, and then finding a home for them.  They may incur expenses, such as fuel costs, not to mention their time.  Try to find some-one as near to your location as possible.

  • If you cannot find a local beekeeping group, then it may be useful to speak with a local farmer.  Some farmers have contacts with beekeepers who offer their hives for pollination services, and so they may have contacts with beekeepers who may be keen to increase their number of hives.
  • If you are still having difficulty locating a beekeeper to help you, then contact a national beekeepers association, who should hopefully have local contacts.
  • A last desperate measure to find a beekeeper is to seek out a supplier of local honey, or beekeeping supplies near you, as they are bound to have some contacts.

It is a good idea to exhaust your possibilities of enlisting the help of a beekeeper. Why?

Because they will remove the bees safely, humanely, and sometimes free of charge.  

However, do not expect the first beekeeper you make contact with, to come to your rescue.  Beekeepers have lives too, and they cannot necessarily drop everything to come to your aid immediately!  On the other hand, the beekeeper may not have a spare hive available, or for his/her own reasons, they may not wish to introduce another colony.

Note also that bee swarm removal is something that relatively inexperienced beekeepers may not be keen to undertake.

If a beekeeper agrees to help you, but the swarm moves on before they arrive, do let them know as soon as possible, hopefully to prevent them from journeying over to assist you. It’s only fair – and anyway, there may come a time in the future when you’ll need their assistance again!

What if you have exhausted the possibility of finding a beekeeper?

An alternative route is to phone your local authority and enquire about bee swarm removal.  If you are in the USA, there are some regulations in certain counties regarding Africanized Honey Bees.   Always enquire about their fees and procedures, and how long it will take for some-one to come out to you.

Many local authorities will charge for bee swarm removal (even if they usually offer some free pest control services), and in the event the bees should leave of their own accord just before a person arrives to remove them, they may charge you a call out fee!  Also, check what methods they use, and whether the bees would be harmed, and whether they use pesticides.  If it's a swarm, there shouldn't be any reason for the local authority to use pesticides. However, if a colony has already established a nest (rather than a swarm) in a very inconvenient place, such as an inner wall cavity, there are some circumstances where unfortunately, there may be no option but to destroy the colony. Hopefully, there may be ways to avoid this.  Increasingly, pest controllers are finding ways to relocated honey bees, and some have contact with beekeepers.  Remember to ask them first.

Just a thought….Have you ever considered becoming a beekeeper?  Do you frequently see swarms of bees?   If so, take a look at the resources on this site. 

If you were to become a beekeeper, then in the future, you’d be able to remove the swarm and enjoy the benefits of these new arrivals yourself!

As I stated before, often the best way of dealing with a honey bee swarm, is simply to leave it alone if possible, and not panic, although if they land in a place that would cause significant inconvenience should they stay there, it may be worth calling for help and guidance at least as a precaution.

If the swarm is temporary, then for the very short time it is around, you will have a unique opportunity to observe this marvellous act of nature, and you may not have this privilege again! If the bees are not causing any realy problem, the most important action to take if you can, is to relax and not worry. It may also turn out to be the cheapest.

If you'd like to know more about swarming bees in general, then again, take a look at this link for further information about this wonderful phenomenon.

Swarming Bees
Go from Bee Swarm Removal to this page where you can learn more about this fascinating phenomenon.

Get Rid Of Bees
Find out about how to remove other species of bees, including bumblebees and how to get rid of carpenter bees, and prevent future nests.

Bees Nest Q&A
Go from Bee Swarm Removal to this useful Q&A about bees nests.

About Honey Bees

Return from bee swarm removal to home page

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Bees, Wasps, and Ants: The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Gardens

"Few insects are more important than bees, wasps, and ants. They maintain the garden’s biological balance, fertilize vegetables, fruits, and flowers, and recycle nutrients within the soil. It’s no exaggeration to say that a garden can’t be understood without an understanding of its insects."

Click the button below to view wonderful short videos of pollination: