Guidance for Swarm Collectors

Penrith and District Beekeepers Association.

Guidance for swarm collectors.

Introduction. These notes are written because swarm collectors who have volunteered to collect swarms have sometimes experienced unrealistic expectations from members of the public about the service they can offer. The notes supplement the information about swarm collectors on the Cumbria Beekeepers Association and BBKA websites. They aim to provide advice on the information that swarm collectors who are members of PDBKA give individuals or organisations who contact them about swarm removal.

Limitations of service we can offer. When first contacted (e.g. over the phone) it is helpful for a member of the local authority to explain that:

  • Some members of PDBKA have volunteered to collect swarms when it is safe to do. However, PDBKA is a voluntary organisation. We are not a public service provided by any statutory body.
  • We are not able to assist in, or advise on, removal of bumblebees, solitary bees, wasps or hornets.
  • It is unlikely that we will be able to assist in removal of established colonies of honey bees in the roof space or cavity walls of a building.
  • We will not attempt to remove a honey bee swarm if, in the judgement of the swarm collector, it is not safe to do so, for example if a ladder would be required to reach it.
  • In some circumstances two swarm collectors are required to remove a swarm safely.

Insurance. PDBKA members are covered by a policy provided by the British Beekeepers Association. They have insurance cover for the removal of swarms, but NOT for any of the services listed above under Limitations of service we can offer.

Other sources of advice.

  • For assistance with identification of bumblebees, solitary bees, wasps and hornets, refer to the CBKA and BBKA websites.
  • It is acceptable, and helpful, to explain the life cycle of bumblebees, solitary bees, wasps and hornets – i.e. that only queens survive beyond the autumn; all others have usually died before the onset of winter.
  • If a colony of honey bees, solitary bees, wasps or hornets is in a location likely to create a danger or significant nuisance to members of the public, (e.g. in a hole in a wall immediately above or beside a front door, the owner of the property should normally be advised to contact the local authority for advice on a pest removal service. Swarm collectors are not able to assist in this process unless they have specialist equipment, and then only for collection of honey bees.

January 2022