Dublin Beekeeping Services

Honeybee & Swarm Removal Service

Swarms & People

Photo of a honey bee swarm
Honey bee swarm

People who are not familiar with honey bees often have a fear of them. Swarming bees are generally not inclined to sting provided they are left alone – but the following precautions should be taken:

  • Keep children and pets well away from the swarm.
  • After the swarm has clustered and most of the bees have stopped flying, it is normally safe to be outside the house.
  • Arrange to have the swarm removed.
  • Wear footwear to protect your feet in case bees have settled on the ground.
  • Interfering with the swarm will make it more difficult for a beekeeper to deal with the bees.
  • When you see a swarm do not panic and do not attempt to move the swarm on, by hosing it, spraying them with poison, throwing stones at it, smoking the bees or taking any action to try and make the swarm move, as that will simply cause them to fly again and will reform the cluster nearby. This action will only aggravate the bees and encourage them to sting in defence.
  1. How does a beekeeper go about capturing a swarm of honey bees?
    A swarm is looking for a new nesting site. A beekeeper can capture a swarm by placing a suitable container, such as an empty beehive, on the ground below the swarm and dislodging the bees into the hive. If for some reason the queen does not go into the new hive, the bees will abandon it and form a cluster where she lands. If the bees are scent-fanning at the entrance of the hive, it is a signal that the queen is inside and the rest of the flying bees march into their new home. The bees can then be moved to the beekeeper's apiary.
  2. What type of nesting sites will honey bees seek?
    Honey bees are cavity nesters and will seek a cavity of at least 15 litres of storage space. Hollow trees are their traditional nesting sites, but any dry cavity such as hollow walls, attic spaces, porch canopies and in other "man-made" sites if they can find a suitably entrance.
  3. What can be done if a honey bee swarm establishes itself in an undesirable place?
    Honey bees are beneficial pollinators and should be left alone and appreciated unless their nest is in conflict with human activity. If honey bees nest in the walls of a home, they should be removed, it is advisable to open the area and remove the honey and combs as it is an attraction for any other swarms that are in the area and are looking for a home, as the smell of wax is like a smell of home-sweet-home to them. Wax may melt and honey drip from the combs. After removal, the cavity should be filled, as the nest door will be attractive to future swarms. Nests should be removed promptly from problem sites as after several months, they may have stored a considerable amount of honey.
  4. Why are we observing fewer honey bees and swarms than in previous years?
    In the 1998, varroa mites that parasitize honey bees were introduced into Ireland. They have spread throughout the country and have eliminated all wild or feral colonies. In addition, the number of colonies managed by beekeepers has declined during the past decade. Any swarm that leaves a hive and manages to get itsself established in a hollow tree or roof cavity will only have a life expectancy of 12 to 18 months, before it will die off, due to varroa mite predation. The only honeybees that can survive now are in hives that are managed and safeguarded by beekeepers.

Photo of an established swarm in a garage
Established swarm in a garage

It is easy to think that a lot of bees attracted to the nectar in the flowers of a tree or shrub are a swarm. However, a swarm of bees when at rest will usually form a cluster larger than a big grapefruit and more typically the size of a football or even larger. The pictures below show bumble bees, wasps, solitary bees and honey bees to help identification.

Photo of honey bee on a bramble
Honey bee on a bramble


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