Shock at huge cloud of home-hunting bees

Beekeeper and swarm collector Eddy Gadd with a demonstration hive and a jar of honey. Photo: S2360613-130TW
Beekeeper and swarm collector Eddy Gadd with a demonstration hive and a jar of honey. Photo: S2360613-130TW
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Pet supplies shop owner Carmen Cousins found herself in the middle of a huge cloud of honey bees when there was a swarm in Long Sutton.

Carmen (34) walked along her driveway to her car in Market Street and says she didn’t see the bees until she started reversing out at about 1.50pm on Wednesday.

She said: “I just sat in my car – the bees were all over. They were all over my car, they were in the road, it was a huge, huge swarm.

“People were walking by brushing bees off themselves.”

Carmen says the cloud of bees was about six square metres and put their number at “thousands”.

“It wasn’t just a thin stream of them,” she said. “They were covering half of my driveway and half of my next door neighbour’s garden – and she’s got a huge garden.”

Carmen, who runs Crystal Pet Supplies with her sister, Lyn Spendla, took pictures of the bees and posted them on Facebook – and quickly heard from friends who saw a similar cloud of bees at Sutton Bridge.

Swarming is the natural process by which honey bees increase their numbers and, left alone, the bees are quite harmless as they are focused on only one thing – finding a new home.

If they settle in a “ball” they can be collected by a beekeeper and given a new home in a hive.

Many new beekeepers start out with a swarm of honey bees that have been collected, but swarming honey bees should only ever be collected by an experienced beekeeper who knows how to handle them.

A swarm typically contains the old queen bee and 20,000 worker bees who fly off when the old hive has raised new queens.

Eddy Gadd, from The Lincolnshire Beekeepers’ Association, said: “That’s the way they multiply – they go off as a viable unit.

“They wouldn’t really be causing a nuisance – they would just be flying around looking for another home.

“Their real home is a hollow tree, but they could go into somebody’s roof because there’s not that many hollow trees in Lincolnshire.”

Mr Gadd, who runs Big Tree Honey Farm at Marsh Drove, Surfleet Marsh, is one of the association’s swarm collectors for this area.

He says you can get two or three swarms from one colony, but colonies can be managed so they don’t swarm.