East Cambridgeshire District Council provides no treatment for bees. Bumblebees are valuable pollinators, are becoming rare, and should be conserved. They often nest in holes in the ground. A colony will die out in the autumn and are unlikely to reappear in the same place the following Spring.

A beekeeper will not provide assistance for the removal of insects other than honeybees. It is therefore important to establish the identity of the insects before seeking assistance. A helpful guide to distinguish between honeybees, bumblebees, other types of bee and wasps is available at the British Beekeepers Association website (external link).

Honeybees are small (13 mm x 3 mm), light brown to black; wasps are similar in size but clearly striped yellow and black; bumblebees vary in size from 13-25 mm x 5-10 mm, are furry and may have white, buff, orange or red posteriors and carry one or two yellow stripes.

A swarm of honeybees numbers thousands of bees and forms a tight cluster hanging somewhere like on a tree, shrub or wall. Its size varies from that of a tennis ball to that of a rugby ball or larger. Large numbers of bees flying in and out of an opening or feeding on flowers does not constitute a swarm. Bumblebees and wasps do not swarm.

The location of a swarm of honeybees will determine whether or not it can be collected by a beekeeper. They cannot remove an established colony from within walls, roof, chimney or hollow trees, but may be willing to take an accessible swarm if it is not too high from the ground. Swarms often move on to a permanent nest site after only a few hours, so please check from time to time that a beekeeper is still required.

About 350 beekeepers are members of the Cambridgeshire Beekeepers Association (CBKA). Many of these people may be willing to collect accessible swarms of honeybees from their own locality. The association maintains a list of members willing to collect and hive swarms. The list is held by the BBKA, District Council Offices and by local Police Stations. To request the assistance of a beekeeper call one of the contacts below. If you know a local beekeeper, please contact that person first as the swarm may have come from one of that person’s hives.

There is no obligation on CBKA to provide this service, it is entirely voluntary. Many members, for whom beekeeping is a hobby, are in full time employment and may be able to attend only in the evenings or at weekends. The beekeeper may ask for a contribution towards the cost of travel for attending. The rectification of any damage caused by the collection of the bees is the responsibility of the person seeking assistance.


East Cambridgeshire District Council 01353 665555

Or visit your Voluntary Area Beekeepers Association (external link).