This is the time of year when honey bees are most likely to swarm as the nucleus of a colony departs with an unmated queen bee to find a suitable location for a new home. Members of the public spotting a few thousand bees flying around should not panic but call the British BeeKeepers’ Association (BBKA) hotline so that the swarm can be captured before it settles in an inaccessible corner somewhere.
“With honey bee numbers under threat we can ill afford to lose swarms; beekeepers are anxious to collect them,” says the BBKA. “Swarms left uncollected are unlikely to survive, which means lost honey production but even more importantly, fewer of these hard working insects to pollinate crops.”
Public awareness of the importance of bees in the food chain is growing, although a BBKA survey of 2,000 UK adults found that more than half would be either worried or terrified if they were faced with a swarm of bees. As many as three quarters of all calls taken by the BBKA are about insects other than bees. The association has posted the necessary information on its website, where it also gives the hotline number for UK callers.