Swarm removal  - How do I know it's a honey bee?

Identifying Honeybees

honeybee for swarm

Honeybees are small and vary in colour from golden brown to almost black.

If you have honey bees in the structure of your property click here

If the insects are not honeybees, go to the information and advice below about what to do.

Does your swarm look like this?


If you are looking at these then please contact your local Swarm Collector below 

Find a local Swarm Collector

If you would like to report a swarm of bees then please contact one of the swarm coordinator's  below for your area who will pass your details to a swarm collector near to you.

Map of Swarm Co-ordinators
  • Calne, Marlborough and Devizes:  John Barber Tel 07818 066890 
  • Melksham Area:  Ruth Woodhouse 01225 705382  

  • Swindon Area:  Steve Greenaway Tel 07932172760 stephen@beenucs.co.uk

  • West Wiltshire:  Geraldine Lenert Tel 01380 870229  07486693273

  • Please try and have the following information to hand when you call, it will make the situation much easier to assess.

  • Location of the hive (i.e. in a tree, on a fence, side of house, etc…)
  • Approximate distance from the swarm to the ground
  • Size of the swarm (i.e. a tennis ball, football, bulging shopping bag, etc…)
  • The time and day when you first noticed the swarm and an estimate of the time it has been there
  • The address of the swarm. If it is not on your property, please provide the contact information of the owner, if possible
  • A telephone number for a contact person if subsequent calls are appropriate

 I don't think they are honeybees, what should I do?

If the insects are not honeybees, this part of the website shows you how to tell other insects apart and what to do after that.


Bumblebees are often confused with honeybees. However they are rounder, larger and furrier and come with a variety of coloured stripes across the end of their tails. Are they in a bird box, under the decking, in the compost?

Bumblebees are important pollinators. Leave the nests alone if possible. They will die out at the end of summer and will cause no further problems. Bumblebees rarely sting or attack people or animals and should therefore not be disturbed. There are 24 different types of native bumblebee, all of which vary in size and colour.

For more information about bumblebees go to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website, or the Buzz About Beeswebsite.

Solitary bees

Are there lots of small bees popping in and out of the wall or very small holes in the ground. Do they have a "reddy/brown" bottom? Are they almost black?

These are solitary bees, of which there are 225 species recorded in the UK and they post no threat or harm to you, your family or pets. Solitary bees are important pollinators and should be left alone. Their numbers will decrease over the summer and their nests should be left alone. For more information go to Wild About Gardens.


Is it bright yellow with black stripes? Very smooth, mainly yellow with black stripes? Is it in the roof of your house? Are they coming from a round nest in a tree? Is there a nest in the shed? Do they have a high pitched buzz? Are they after all things sweet? Then these are probably wasps.

For more information go to BWARS.

Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of wasps.


Are they very big with a loud buzz? Are they black and brown with a hint of orange? Living in the roof or shed? Do they have a very big curved tail? These are European Hornets and are valuable pollinators usually found in wooden areas.

For more information go to BWARS.

Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of hornets.