What Do I Do If I Get Stung

Bees will not generally sting if unprovoked usually the bee has been trapped in hair or crushed. When close to a beehive avoid flapping your arms and moving rapidly, if the bees are antagonised, walk away through undergrowth or trees if possible. If stung remove the sting quickly as the sting still pumps venom for some time after the bee has left. 


The record number of sustained stings one person has had, and survived to count them is 2,243. Ouch!  

What Do I Do If I See A Swarm Of Bees

Don’t Panic, bees in a swarm are universally in a good mood. They cannot easily sting even if antagonised as they have gorged themselves with honey and cannot get their bodies into the best position to sting.  If the swarm is not causing a nuisance then leave it, gradually the bees will cluster in a bush or tree and remain there for up to three days.  During that time scouts will be sent out to look for a new home, the only problem may be they will choose your chimney so put your fire/ heating on low and enjoy their visit. If the swarm is a nuisance then the police usually keep a list of local beekeepers that can help.  

How Do Beekeepers Catch A Swarm

A swarm is actively looking for a home, so if the beekeeper puts a nice hive with perhaps some old honey comb in it close to where the swarm has settled, then it is easy to persuade them to take up residence.  Normally a few bees are dropped into the hive and they then ‘fan’ their scent to the other bees once it has been ‘approved’. It is a dramatic sight to see a swarm ‘marching’ into a new hive.

Bees already in residence perhaps in a chimney or old tree must be removed with their honeycomb containing the young grubs and the queen. If the bees cannot be reached then the beekeeper is helpless and the council or local pest control can destroy the colony.


Apart From Honey Are Bees Useful

Yes very, the pollination benefit of bees is calculated to help the economy by millions of pounds per annum.  Certain crops yield up to 25-40% more if efficiently pollinated and farmers in some areas of the world pay beekeepers to put hives into their fields and orchards.  In the USA alone bees pollinate about ten billion dollars worth of crops per year (1997).  In addition to pollination, bees produce wax for candles and Royal Jelly.  During the middle Ages one of the most important jobs in an Abbey was the Beekeeper, as a huge quantity of wax was constantly required for the ceremonial candles.

Is Beekeeping Hard Work

In terms of time… about 10-20 minutes per hive per week from mid April to August. In addition honey is extracted twice a year (UK).   However some visits can be longer dependant on the planned task or problem encountered.

The first record of people keeping bees was in Spain about 6000BC

How Much Will It Cost Me To Keep Bees

For the clothing and tools about £150 and a good second hand hive with bees about £60-£80.

For more information: See the sister FAQ for beginner beekeepers... Click Here


Will I Get Stung If I Keep Bees

Yes. A few people are allergic, but most will swell for a short time and then gradually become more immune.


A Beekeeper Uses Smoke To ‘Calm’ The Bees, How Does This Work

Fundamentally smoke interferes with the pheromone (smell) communication 'language' that the bees use to raise the 'We're under attack' alarm.

In addition, when smoke enters a hive bees immediately divert to eat* as much honey as possible as there is immediate danger from fire, something bees seem to be instinctively aware of.   So they start preparations to abandon the hive at a moment’s notice.  This diverts them whilst the beekeeper takes their home apart.  

*Not actually 'eat' but store the honey/nectar in their honey stomach that they can regurgitate from later.


How Does A Beekeeper Find The Queen

Colour Year Ending
Blue 0 or 5
White 1 or 6
Yellow 2 or 7
Red 3 or 8
Green 4 or 9

Some times with difficulty, she is normally close to the newly laid eggs and her long body and large legs makes her stand out.  Once found many beekeepers put a small dot of paint on the back of the queen bee that makes her much easier to find the next time.  The paint comes in five colours each colour representing the year.  As Queens do not live longer than five years, therefore five colours are sufficient.  


Modern Beehives Look Boring.  Why Don’t Many Beekeepers Use The Traditional Looking White Terraced Hive?

Although the old style hives look pleasant at the foot of the garden there is nearly twice as many components in their construction.  Internally the old hive is the same as a modern hive but is clumsier to use.  Incidentally the ‘old’ style is called a WBC hive after it’s inventor William Broughton Carr and the most popular standard ‘hobby’ hive in Britain is the ‘National’ hive.  


Opposite is a 'British National Hive'

The name 'super' is from the Latin for 'above'.



I Have Honey Bees inside a Wall/Roof How Can I Remove them Humanly

This is a question that comes up from time to time and here is a typical reply that I have given...

The bees cannot* be removed without gaining physical access to them, and 'making them swarm' (even if you could) would not get rid of them only reduce their numbers transiently.  They will swarm anyway most years, between May-July.  Swarms are not so much dangerous as dramatic.

You have three choices:

1) Remove the floor/ceiling and get a good beekeeper to assist.  The amount of hassle does not justify the gain of bees so expect to be charged.

2) Live with them they will make good neighbours, so long as the entrance is +2m above ground and the floor and ceiling are good i.e. they cannot bleed into the house.   They are not likely to be aggressive if undisturbed by significant vibration and they will keep all their honey well sealed so you will not get natural leakage.

3) Kill them; that would be a shame.

Do not expect them to survive for many years as the Varroa parasite will build up and eventually the will die out.

 *Not entirely true:  There is a complex way of removing them over time by installing an external hive over the entrances with another queen within it.  Gradually (months) the internal hive population will favour the external hive and the internal one will dwindle to nothing.  This is not an easy task for all sorts of reason not the least the position of the entrances and lack of beekeeping experience.  It is by no means a normal task for the average beekeeper and most will not even know about it.


I Have Bumblebees in My Shed/Compost heap what Can I Do

It is not possible to move that nest, they will die but did you know that bumblebees are under threat (even yours from you :-) .  They do struggle to find natural habits these days and are very non aggressive. If you can live with them until the Autumn they will naturally leave anyway and not use that nest again.  If you are reasonably careful you will be able to walk around them real close up, without them bothering you at all.

Beekeepers are not pest control officers so if you do really want them destroyed you will need to contact the council or professional pest control people who can charge up to £70+