Devon swarm collection service and bee-friendly beekeeping groups

This service is provided by

Friends of the Bees

making Britain a better place for pollinators.

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Bee Swarm Collectors
South Devon and Torbay

For bee swarms in or near Totnes, Newton Abbot, Bovey Tracey, Chudleigh, Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, South Brent, Ivybridge or Dartmouth or elsewhere in Teignbridge and the South Hams:
call Phil on 07891 554 012 or Jo on 07914 922 554

NO CHARGE for domestic premises

Swarms in Torbay (Torquay, Paignton and Brixham)
call Gerry on 07802 851152

If you see a swarm of honeybees anywhere in South Devon, call the most appropriate number and one of our team will collect and safely house it. For other locations in Devon, see the list of numbers on the right of this page.

PLEASE NOTE: we are beekeepers, NOT pest controllers.
We DO NOT KILL BEES, but do our best to re-house them in a safe place.

*** NB: WE WILL STILL COLLECT SWARMS DURING LOCKDOWN, AS THIS IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND ANIMAL WELFARE. We will take all necessary precautions to avoid any possibility of infection. ***


Britain is facing an imminent invasion of the Asian yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina. This voracious predator could cause irreparable damage to our bees, including ALL WILD BEE SPECIES, as well as butterflies, moths, dragonflies, hoverflies and many other insects.

If this hornet is allowed to invade our countryside, we face a devastating loss of pollinators, that will also have a terrible effect on the food of many birds and bats. They are already in the Channel Islands and several nests have been found in England during the last few years. So far, we have managed to find and destroy all known nests found on the mainland, but beekeepers in Jersay are struggling to control this pest that is threatening to destroy their hives.

WE NEED YOUR HELP if we are to succeed in repelling this invasive insect.

How to identify the Asian Hornet (opens a new window) NB: this is the official Jersey government site, so only use their reporting process if you are on Jersey!

PLEASE LEARN how to distinguish the Asian hornet from our (harmless) native European hornet and other insects that are not a threat to bees.

DO NOT attempt to disturb a nest, as Asian Hornets will defend their nest area aggressively. Nests are usually found high in trees but can sometimes be found in buildings, shrubs and occasionally even in or close to the ground.

If you think you have seen an Asian hornet (download and check here first), you should report it immediately.

If you are in South Devon, please call me (Phil) on 07891 554 012
and I will help you with identification.

If possible, PLEASE TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH of the suspect insect. (Individual hornets are very unlikely to sting when away from their nests and not physically threatened, so are generally regarded as safe to approach closely for a photograph.)

If you are able to help with identification and/or nest tracking in your local area, please send me a text and you will be able to join the South Devon Asian Hornet Action Team WhatsApp group.

You can DOWNLOAD THIS POSTER, print and display it on noticeboards.

South Devon Asian Hornet Action Team

contact Jo Lapthorn 01548 560165 or Phil Chandler 07891 554 012
For other areas, check this map

Bee Swarm Advice

If you see a swarm of honeybees, don't panic! When bees swarm, they are simply looking for a new place to live, and are very unlikely to sting you. You may see them clustering on the branch of a tree, or sometimes under eaves or on a fencepost, in Devon and Cornwall, any time between early April and late July, but most often in May and June.

If you see a bee swarm in a reasonably accessible place and want it removed, call the local swarm line and we will put you in touch with a beekeeper who can safely take the swarm. This is a free service to householders, although we do appreciate a donation to Friends of the Bees to help us maintain this facility.

If any structural work is involved in removing bees, or they have made a nest in a wall or other part of a building, or bees have already made a nest in your attic or other enclosed space, an assessment will be made before any work commences and you will be asked to agree terms for removal.

Bumblebees DO NOT SWARM and live in relatively small groups. If you find a bumblebee nest, if at all possible, leave them alone. They are not likely to sting anyone unless they are disturbed, and then they will defend their nests, but will stop if you move away.See this web page for more advice. Please note: beekeepers will not usually be willing to remove wasps or bumblebees. If you call out a beekeeper and you are found to have wasps rather than honeybees, they may make a charge for their time.

Wasps have distinct yellow and black stripes, and do not form swarm clusters. Wasp and hornet nests are similar to each other, having a light brown, papery appearance. Honeybees do not make paper nests!

Honeybees are generally darker than wasps, with black, brown and sometimes orange stripes. When they swarm, they all fly together for a while, and then form dense clusters, often on tree branches or shrubs. This is the point at which we can collect them.

This page will help you identify the most common species in the area.

Approved Devon Swarm Collectors

South Devon (except Torbay)
call Phil 07891 554 012
or Jo 07914 922 554

Torbay (Torquay, Paignton and Brixham) call Gerry on 07802 851152

Exeter and the Exe Valley
call Chris on 07967 829888

Plymouth area
call Liam on 07804 149307

This service is carried out by experienced beekeepers and is free of charge for domestic premises, if the swarm is outdoors and accessible without special equipment.

If the swarm is inaccessible, or inside a building or a chimney, please discuss the circumstances with us before we visit. There is a call-out charge of £25 for ALL NON-HONEYBEE removals and for swarm removals where the swarm has moved on before we arrive and we have not been notified.

If the bees are NOT honeybees (e.g. bumblebees, mason bees) it is not usually possible to relocate the nest safely. In an emergency situation, we may be able to remove them, but there will be a charge of at least £35 and most likely upwards of £50 depending on the amount of work involved.

We charge a call out fee of £45 for commercial premises. Removal work will be charged at £25 per hour.

Before calling us, please check here that you have honeybees!