'Horror movie stuff': bee keeper on recent spate of swarms

Beekeeper Daniel Thomas says there are more bee swarms around this year because of the cool weather

Beekeeper Daniel Thomas says there are more bee swarms around this year because of the weather - Credit: DEDHAM VALE HONEY

A bee keeper said people should not panic if they see a swarm of bees, amid reports of a spate of swarms throughout Suffolk and north Essex.

Daniel Thomas, of Dedham Vale Honey, said the region had seen more swarms than normal in recent days.

He said: "There's a lot about this year. Normally we get a lot but they're spaced over a bigger time, but this year because we had a cold and very wet start to the year and suddenly we've got nice weather all these bees that would've swarmed in previous months are now doing it together."

Mr Thomas explained honey bees typically swarm when they have outgrown one hive, with a queen leading between 10,000 to 20,000 bees off to find a new home — leaving the rest of the colony more space.

A swarm can contain between 10,000-20,000 bees

A swarm can contain between 10,000-20,000 bees - Credit: DEDHAM VALE HONEY

The swarm, he continued, will search for a new home in an enclosed space.


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"They're not trying to sting you or do anything to you," he said. "All they're looking for is a home.

"When bees are in a swarm there's nothing really for them to protect, only themselves. Whereas if you went to a hive or you went to a tree where they're living, they will defend that because they've got their young in there, their eggs in there, and they've got their honey store, which is the food for the winter."

Swarms are bees that have left a previous colony to find a new home

Swarms are bees that have left a previous colony to find a new home - Credit: DEDHAM VALE HONEY

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Despite this Mr Thomas said he understood why people would be afraid.

"If you see a swarm arrive, it is just like horror movie stuff," he said. "If you do see a swarm, the main thing is: don't panic.

"Just call a beekeeper that's all you need to do."

Mr Thomas says he collected around 12 bee swarms this weekend alone

Mr Thomas says he collected around 12 bee swarms this weekend alone - Credit: DEDHAM VALE HONEY

This weekend Mr Thomas estimates he collected 12 swarms. To do this he puts the swarm into a box — as long as the queen goes in the rest of the swarm will be attracted by her smell and follow her into the box.

Then the swarms will be left to quarantine for a period to ensure they are healthy.

Once this is done Mr Thomas will take them to one of his sites and introduce them into a hive. After roughly a year they are then ready to produce honey, he said.

Bees will follow the smell of their queen into one of Mr Thomas's boxes

Bees will follow the smell of their queen into one of Mr Thomas's boxes - Credit: DEDHAM VALE HONEY

Among the places that Mr Thomas has collected swarms from is Tiptree Tesco car park, the inside of compost bins and even from inside a disused water feature.

He said: "Sometimes I can go weeks without getting stung. But sometimes I'll get stung every day for a week."

To report a swarm you can contact Mr Thomas at info@dedhamvalehoney.co.uk.

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