Pest Controllers and Bees
The first thing many people do when they come across bees in their garden or home is to contact a pest controller. In the UK, pest controllers will generally 'treat' (a euphemism for kill) wasp nests, but if you have bees - especially honey bees, they will usually advise you to contact a bee keeper. Some pest controllers may even claim that the bees are a protected species and cannot be touched. In actual fact, in the UK bees have no greater legal protection than other wildlife. However, anyone poisoning a honey bee colony does carry a legal responsibility to ensure that no other bees can access the now poisoned stores of honey and honeycomb. Failure to do so can result in significant fines. For an example see here.
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So if you have a bee swarm what should you do?
Contact a bee swarm collector, see here for contact numbers. Some local collectors will collect your honey bee swarm free of charge and do so to help maintain the sadly depleted stocks of feral honey bees.
If you live in Gravesham or it's surrounding area*
(*Gravesend, Cobham, Higham, Luddesdown, Meopham, Shorne, Vigo, Culverstone Green, Northfleet, Chalk, Gadshill, Meopham Green, Sole Street, Thong, New Barn, Longfield, New Ash Green, Hartley, Dartford, Wrotham, North Kent, Istead Rise, Southfleet, Betsham, Hodsoll Street, Harvel)
Are you sure they're honey bees?
If it's a swarm then you've got honey bees . . .
If you have a honey bee swarm you are witnessing one of the wonders of the natural world, part of the reproductive cycle of the honey bee colony and an important part of putting food on our tables. To find out more see here.
If you are sure that you have a bee swarm then a call to one of the volunteer honey bee swarm collectors will often see the swarm removed free of charge. A list of contacts is provided at the end of this page.
Alternatively, you may have had honey bees for a while. If you have had them for more than two to three days then they are most probably setting up a permanent home in which case they are classified as an established colony.
If the colony is accessible (for instance inside a rabbit hutch or a gas meter box) then one of the volunteer swarm collectors will most probably still be happy to remove the bees for you. If the bees are not accessible (for instance in a chimney under floorboards or in a cavity wall), then specialist advice must be sought as masonry or wood work may be required to expose the colony so that the beekeeper can carry out their task.
Kent Bee Keepers Association (KBKA): Web: http://www.kentbee.com/kbka/info/swarms/
The KBKA maintains a list of swarm collectors throughout Kent. Collectors may require refunding of their travel costs or a contribution to association funds.
If you live outside the Gravesham area :
Use Your Postcode To Find A Swarm Collector:
This online map based facility allows you to enter your postcode and then shows which swarm collectors are close to you along with their contact details.