Stay calm and call an expert around bee swarm, warns keeper

A bee-keeper with nerves of steel has urged people to call an expert if they discover a bee swarm over the coming weeks.
Stay calm and call an expert around bee swarm, warns keeper
A bee swarm which beekeeper Mark O'Donoghue removed a from a tree in Kinsale, Co Cork.
A bee swarm which beekeeper Mark O'Donoghue removed a from a tree in Kinsale, Co Cork.

A bee-keeper with nerves of steel has urged people to call an expert if they discover a bee swarm over the coming weeks.

Mark O’Donoghue, who displayed the composure of a bomb disposal expert to remove a swarm of up to 5,000 individual bees from a tree in Kinsale, said the swarm has now been rehomed safely, the bees are healthy, and have already produced a small amount of capped honey.

“I was delighted to get them," he said. "They are not aggressive when they are swarming but you do need to know what you’re doing.

“The lack of traffic for the last few weeks has been wonderful for insects and we hope it has a hugely beneficial impact on bees in the long-term.”

Mr O’Donoghue was called in to help when a resident near the Bulman in Kinsale spotted the swarm in a tree close to their home.

The bees had left their original hive to establish a new colony, and were resting in the tree while scout bees searched for the right location for their new home.

Mr O’Donoghue travelled from Cork city with a clippers and climbed a step-ladder to remove the swarm slowly and carefully from the tree. He did not wear protective clothing.

He then carried the large ball of bees, containing an estimated 6,000 individual insects, to a special box and drove them back to the city for rehoming.

“This is peak swarming season, especially with warm and sunny weather, we could see a lot of potential swarms develop,” he said.

“I’ve heard stories of people poking swarms with sticks and of turning water hoses on them. I would urge people to contact an expert who will be happy to take them away and develop them into new hives.

Bees are beneficial insects and should not be exterminated. Moreover, even though the bees are not aggressive during swarming, you run the risk of getting stung if you try to spray them.

“We will often come collect a swarm free of charge. The bees will eventually leave once they have identified a new permanent home, which could be in your roof. This leads to a far more difficult situation and could damage your home.”

Bees need expert handling, care and maintenance if they are to thrive but once a colony is established, each hive becomes self-sustaining, with a population of up to 80,000 bees, and with 1m bee trips required to produce 1lb of honey.

You can get details on your local beekeeper at irishbeekeeping.ie or on Mr O’Donoghue’s Facebook page, Bee Swarm Removal Cork.

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