logosmall    Scottish Beekeepers' Association
   Supporting Scotland's Bees and Beekeepers        

swarm 1


swarm 3

I have a swarm of bees that has appeared in my garden, house or outbuilding. What should I do?

First, check if what you have are bees or wasps. This may sound rather obvious, but it is an easy mistake to make. Wasps and honey bees are about the same size, but wasps have alternating black and bright yellow body stripes. Honey bees are brown, with paler brown or dirty yellow bands on the body. Bumblebees are furry. See the images below or refer to The Wild Bees of Scotland Identification Guide. If you have wasps or bumblebees, then please refer to our main Frequently Asked Questions page.

OK, I have checked and they are honey bees. What should I do next?

If the bees are already lodged in a chimney, roof or wall space, and have been there for some time (weeks, months or even years), then they are a well established colony, with combs of honey and young bees. If the bees have only appeared within the last few days, or if they are clustered in the open hanging from a branch of a tree or bush, then you have a newly arrived swarm, with bees only, and probably no combs built yet. (see pics above of a swarm clustered.)

In either case, if the bees are causing a danger to you, children or livestock, then call your Local Authority (Council) Pest Control Officer or an independent pest control company. They will probably make a charge for this.

They are not a danger, or I would prefer to offer them to a local beekeeper. How do I find one?

The best way to find a local beekeeper is to contact the secretary of your Area Beekeeping Association. You will find a list of secretaries for Area Beekeeping Associations in Scotland on the Affiliated Beekeeping Associations Page. While a local beekeeper will do their best to be helpful, there are situations - particularly when bees are lodged happily in a chimney or wall space - when removing the bee colony successfully can be time-consuming, difficult and success cannot be assured. The removal of a free-hanging swarm in the open is usually much simpler however, and you are more likely to find a local beekeeper who is prepared to come and remove it for you. Do please bear in mind however that beekeepers are not a free pest control service, and in some situations you may still have to call in a pest control company to deal with a well-established colony.

Who owns a swarm?
A swarm of bees will be regarded as a wild animal, therefore has no real ownership.
However, there have been occasions where English law has used Ancient Roman law:
Where, as long as the Beekeeper who’s swarm it is, had issued from one of his hives and he is in chase and kept within sight, can rightfully claim the swarm as his.
This can be countered however, with the fact the swarm may be in someone else’s property and without permission to enter that property to retrieve the swarm - it could be argued that ownership has now switched to the property owner.



bumble bee



Honey bee


Wood wasp