Swarm rescue

Honeybee swarm removal in three easy steps

STEP 1 - Check that you have Honeybees


We have the specialist equipment to safely remove honeybee swarms free of charge from many locations in North Canterbury.

Here are some facts about honeybees that will help you identify them:

  1. Honeybees have a distinctive barrel-shaped body and don’t have an obvious thin middle section between the thorax and abdomen like other insects.
  2. Honeybees are generally covered in small hairs that make them look fuzzy all over. These hairs allow pollen to be collected and transferred from flower to flower.
  3. Honeybees have a fuzzy orange and black coat.
  4. Honeybees are unlikely to make a hive in the ground (but compost heaps are a common location).
  5. Only honeybee swarm, and swarms are usually located 1-3 metres above the ground. There are examples of swarm clusters on our home page that show what a honeybee swarm looks like here
honeybee profile


There is often confusion between honeybees and wasps as they are of similar size. Wasp nest are destroyed, but honeybee hives are collected and removed. If you have wasps you will need to call a pest exterminator who has the special gear to deal with these nasty insects.

  1. Wasps have a very thin middle section and distinct thorax and abdomen.
  2. If the insects are coming and going from a hole in the ground then they are likely to be wasps.
  3. On occasion wasps will build their nests above ground, so it is important to take a look at the colour and body covering as safely as you can and compare to the pictures. Wasps have a smooth bright yellow and black body.
  4. Wasps can be present in large numbers on a food source, but do not swarm and cluster on a branch.

Wasps kill and collect insects to feed their young, but the adults drink nectar just like bees. Wasps kill honeybees and rob honey from hives.

german wasp or yellow jacket profile

bumble bees

We sometimes get calls about removing bumble bee nests; however, we don't remove bumble bee nests.

Bumble bees were introduced into New Zealand and live in small seasonal colonies of between 50 and 500 bees. The nests do not persist over winter and they are very unlikely to nest in the same place the next year.

In many cases it isn't necessary to remove the nest due to the placid nature of the bumble bee.

  1. Bumble bees do not swarm
  2. Bumble bee nests are started new each spring by a bumble bee queen that has hibernated through the winter.
  3. Bumble bees are much bigger and their shape and colouration is quite distinctive.

More information on Bumble Bees can be found at the NZ Bumble Bee Conservation Trust

bumble bee profile
Relative size difference between honeybees, wasps, and bumble bees

Relative size of a honeybee (left), a german wasp (centre), and a bumble bee (right)

STEP 2 - Contact us to arrange removal

If a swarm is in the air they can cover a great distance in a short time, so we can't attend until the swarm lands and clusters somewhere.

Please contact us as soon as you notice that the swarm has landed, rather than waiting for them to move on to a lovely permanent site for their hive, like in the eaves of your house, or shed. Once the swarm has moved into your house you have a trickier, stickier, and more expensive problem that usually requires some deconstruction.

Once they are clustered please don't try to knock the swarm down, or spray them with anything to get them to leave - they won't leave until their scouts tell them they have somewhere to go, so you will most likely just make the bees defensive. You may even get yourself stung. Much safer to contact us and leave the bees alone.

We will need the following information:

  1. Exact address of the property and your contact details
  2. Location of the swarm on the property, including height and any access issues (so we know what equipment will be required)
  3. A rough estimate of the size of the swarm, and how long they have been at the location

Our free honeybee swarm removal coverage area

Our free coverage area for swarm removals

Belfast - CHC
Casebrook - CHC
Harewood - CHC
Marshlands - CHC
Northcote - CHC
Northwood - CHC
Pines Beach
Prestons - CHC
Redwood - CHC

STEP 3 - Removing the honeybee swarm

As soon as we are onsite we will get to work using our specialised equipment to safely and carefully transfer the honeybees to a suitably sized hive box. We have equipment that can reach a swarm in a tree up to 4m from the ground, allowing us to quickly remove most swarms.

Safely transferring the honeybee swarm to a hive box for easier removal.

Does this happen often? Consider.... Prevention

Honeybees definitely appear to prefer specific geographical locations to gravitate to. We still don't understand why. It might be due to earth patterns we cannot see (ley lines or similar) or tree line patterns they can see from the sky. Whatever the cause you may witness recurring swarms on your property.

To minimise the chances of honeybees taking up residence in your house, and the associated cost of removal and repair, we recommend placing a swarm box as a lure on your property as a preventive measure.

Do you or your kids want to see whether you can attract a swarm of bees and watch their behaviour to learn more about these wonderful creatures?

Rent a swarm trap? See the swarm trapping page for more details.


If you need fast, friendly and professional honeybee removal, give us a call.
We have the necessary specialised equipment for a fuss free removal and can help answer any questions you may have.