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Beekeeper called to Hadleigh school to rescue swarm of 20,000 honey bees

PUBLISHED: 16:38 08 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:13 08 May 2018

The swarm was found just outside Beaumont Primary School in Hadleigh. Picture: DANIEL THOMAS

The swarm was found just outside Beaumont Primary School in Hadleigh. Picture: DANIEL THOMAS

Archant

A swarm of unexpected guests created quite a buzz at a Hadleigh school this morning, prompting a rather unusual rescue mission.

Bees are generally only aggressive when they have eggs or food to protect. Picture: DANIEL THOMASBees are generally only aggressive when they have eggs or food to protect. Picture: DANIEL THOMAS

Parents walking their children to Beaumont Community Primary School received a shock when they stumbled upon a swarm of 15,000 to 20,000 honey bees hanging from a tree just outside the premises.

After alerting the school to the low-hanging hazard, concerned parents contacted a local beekeeper who offered to rehome the swarm with his own hives in Boxted.

Daniel Thomas, whose company Dedham Vale Honey owns 20 hives in Essex, set out to rescue the bees in time for the children’s morning break – despite arriving home from a month’s holiday in Thailand just hours before.

He said it was important to rehome the bees before they had a chance to make a home at the school.

Mr Thomas coaxed the swarm into a makeshift hive and transported them to their new home in Boxted. Picture: DANIEL THOMASMr Thomas coaxed the swarm into a makeshift hive and transported them to their new home in Boxted. Picture: DANIEL THOMAS

Mr Thomas said: “If they went into the school and started making a home and then they got defensive and started stinging children, a pest control company would be called to kill them.

“When bees are swarming like that they are looking for a home, so really you don’t have to do a great deal. You just give them what they are looking for.

“I took a box, like an empty hive, cut the little branch that the bees were on and lowered it down.

“Hopefully they will say this it it – this is perfect.”

The bees were rehomed in Boxted, just outside of Colchester. Picture: DANIEL THOMASThe bees were rehomed in Boxted, just outside of Colchester. Picture: DANIEL THOMAS

Contrary to popular belief, bees are actually least aggressive when they are swarming – as they don’t have eggs or food to protect.

Mr Thomas said he does wear a suit to rescue swarms, but doesn’t tend to get stung.

“When bees are swarming they are at their most placid anyway,” he said. “I put the suit on mainly to protect my face. They get on my hands and don’t sting me.

“When they are swarming they have nothing to protect. That is when they look the scariest to people who don’t know about them. In reality they won’t sting.”

Dedham Vale Honey owns 20 hives across Essex. Picture: DANIEL THOMASDedham Vale Honey owns 20 hives across Essex. Picture: DANIEL THOMAS

After coaxing the bees into the makeshift hive, Mr Thomas drove them back across the border to the settle alongside his other colonies in Boxted.

He added: “You basically give them the hive and you hope that they see they are home – if they do, they won’t leave.

“Once they have eggs and young that is a done deal. They are free to do what they want now, but you just hope that they will be happy with what you have given them.”

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