A swarm of bees recently brought a rush hour buzz to Greenwich, when it descended on the town as people were making their way home from work.

As a low distant hum turned into thousands of bees flying through the air, some people sheltered in doors while other stood amongst it, filming the event to post on social media.

Bee Control for Greenwich Traffic

Coming to rest on a set of traffic lights, rush hour traffic was controlled as motorists slowed and stopped to look at the swarm of bees. Despite reports of commuters and shoppers having bees on their clothes and in their hair, nobody was stung.

Local beekeepers, Phil and Tracy Clarkson from Brockley, who attended the scene, explained that although it is common for bees to swarm at this time of year, people being stung is very, very rare. Bees are generally very docile and calm whilst swarming – not like we see in horror films!

The beekeeper couple brought an end to the buzz by placing a mobile hive on top of their car and collecting a large proportion of the bees, saying they suspected they had come from nearby Greenwich Park.

Why did the Bees Visit Greenwich?

So why did the swarm of bees decide to visit Greenwich? The likelihood is that they had left their previous hive and were scouting for a new place to live. Once a hive reaches a certain capacity, it is normal for the existing queen to leave the hive with up to 60% of the colony.

Why do Bees Come to Rest?
After creating a nest, the queen tends to stay inside to look after the brood. Therefore, she is not a strong flyer and will need to rest, often on a branch, in a hedge…or, in this case, on a set of traffic lights. Worker bees surround the queen to protect her while scout bees fly off to find a new place for the colony to live. This can take just a matter of hours or it can take a few days.

How Can you Collect A Bee Swarm?
It should only ever be a skilled and trained beekeeper that attempts to collect a swarm. Whilst mobile hives do exist, bees can actually be collected in something as simple as a cardboard box and then transferred into a hive later. If the bees are on a branch that can be cut off, the trick is then to lower the bees into the container. However, this was not the case in Greenwich and Mr and Mrs Clarkson placed their mobile hive on top of their car, positioned below the traffic lights.

The key point it to get the queen in to the container. Once this happen, the rest of the bees will follow. This does not mean the swarm has to be disturbed, as the scout wasps will investigate the container and feed back to the colony that it is a suitable place, and then the queen will follow the rest of the colony in.

What if it was a Wasp Swarm?

Although you hear talk of wasp swarms, wasps do not swarm in the same way as bees. Wasps will only swarm if they are defending their nest. Sometime they can appear to swarm around food, but this is simply that word has got back to the nest that there is something tasty around, and the wasps come out in high numbers to feed and defend their find from other wasp colonies.

So although wasp swarms are highly dangerous as it is their mode of attack, wasps would not be moving through an area in the same way as the Greenwich bees.

London Bee and Wasp Control

Top Dog Pest Control provides bee and wasp control all throughout London, 7 days a week. However, these two services are very different.

At Top Dog Pest Control we very much support saving bees and promoting their positive effects on the environment. Consequently, where at all possible, we advise that bee nests should be left in place if they do not pose a safety problem around your London property. In cases where a nest does need removing, Top Dog Pest Control will work with local beekeepers to relocate the nest to avoid destroying it.

Wasp control is a different matter due to the risk posed by wasps. Much more aggressive in nature, wasps are a threat to the safety and well being of those around. Our experienced London wasp control technicians use fast-acting treatments to eradicate a wasp colony as quickly as possible. For more information, see our London Wasp Control page.

This article was written by Dean Mannion, Senior Pest Control Technician for Top Dog Pest Control who provide London bee control services. 

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