Swarm chasers battle to deal with sudden surge of bees

Beekeeper James Croft, from Sprowston, who says there has been an increase in swarms due to the hot

Beekeeper James Croft, from Sprowston, who says there has been an increase in swarms due to the hot weather. NOTE: People are not advised to approach swarms without the appropriate clothing, Mr Croft knows his swarm's behaviour well. - Credit: Danielle Booden

The sudden change from cool to warm weather has turned Norwich into "swarm central", with beekeepers reporting a surge in numbers of bees.

A trampoline, supermarket car park and school grounds are among the places honeybees have been setting up temporary hives.

Beekeepers said they had been busy handling calls as new queen bees took over colonies and searched for places to nest.

Sprowston beekeeper James Croft is among those who are listed on the British Beekeepers Association [BBKA] to receive calls to move swarms. 

Beekeeper James Croft, from Sprowston, who says there has been an increase in swarms due to the hot

Beekeeper James Croft, from Sprowston, who says there has been an increase in swarms due to the hot weather - Credit: Danielle Booden

He has recently been called to Waitrose in Cringleford to intervene with a swarm, as well as the Clare School twice within 10 days.

Mr Croft said: "Without our intervention hives would have died from starvation."

Beekeeper James Croft, from Sprowston, who says there has been an increase in swarms due to the hot

Beekeeper James Croft, from Sprowston, who says there has been an increase in swarms due to the hot weather. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Croft also received a call from a Sprowston father of three who had reported a swarm of bees hanging from a trampoline in his garden.

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"Since the weather has changed, I have been getting around five phone calls a day," Mr Croft said.

Swarm catchers said it was important to ensure they were honeybees, with Mr Croft saying many people confused them for bumblebees.

Beekeeper James Croft, from Sprowston, who says there has been an increase in swarms due to the hot

Beekeeper James Croft, from Sprowston, with his equipment for removing honeybee swarms in his local area - Credit: Danielle Booden

Sally Broughton, a UEA lecturer, reported a swarm last weekend on the corner of Peckover and Pettus roads near Eaton Park.

Dr Broughton said: "I immediately found the BBKA website, which has tons of information on how to identify if they are honey bees and a really cool swarm catcher map that helps you find beekeepers nearby. It was very easy." 

Swarm catcher John Squires and his wife Victoria were called on Saturday afternoon with a swarm trap used to lure the colony in.

The Squires returned on Sunday morning with a ladder and full kit to complete the job.

John and Victoria Squires in full kit to catch the swarm near Eaton Park on Sunday during the Bank Holiday weekend

John and Victoria Squires are pictured in full kit to catch the swarm near Eaton Park on Sunday during the Bank Holiday weekend - Credit: Submitted

"It was all really cool to see it all happen and nice to know the bees are in a safe home now," Dr Broughton said.

Mrs Squires added: "It was like swarm central last weekend with the weather changing. The bees suddenly wanted to get out as they were feeling crowded.

"It's like going from winter to summer without the spring in between so they freaked and decided to move."

How to report swarms

The British Beekeepers Association website has a link to a swarm map which includes contact numbers for the nearest swarm catcher in each area of the UK. 

Norwich City Council offer advice and assist in identifying bees on its website

Beekeeper James Croft, from Sprowston, who says there has been an increase in swarms due to the hot

Beekeeper James Croft, from Sprowston, who says there has been an increase in swarms due to the hot weather. NOTE: People are not advised to approach swarms without the appropriate clothing, Mr Croft (pictured) knows his swarm's behaviour well. - Credit: Danielle Booden

If bees cannot be safely removed and present a risk or disturbance to a property owner, the only option may be to have the colony destroyed by professional pest control personnel with council and private agencies tasked with this last resort option.

The BBKA can be contacted on 02476 696679 for further assistance on this.

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