BOLTON School found itself in the middle of one of nature’s spectacles — a honey bee swarm.

The school became a hive of activity in May after a new beekeeping club was set up to look after a colony of 20,000 bees.

The swarm happened this week when a virgin queen emerged — taking half the colony with her — and started looking for a new home.

Physics teacher Roger McMinn, a member of the school’s beekeeping club said: “It was a privilege to behold one of nature's spectacles, a honey bee swarm.

“While it did cause some inconvenience and concern for some, it provided a massive educational opportunity for staff and boys to learn about something quite unexpected in a routine day.”

He added: “We had previously tried to carry out swarm control procedures, but nature took its course and a virgin queen emerged taking half a colony with her.

“They spent the morning clustered around the queen in the boys' quad while scout bees looked for suitable accommodation further afield.

“It is important to realise that a swarm is very placid, their mission is to find a new home and food, they are not a danger to anyone.

“As we didn't want to lose our first Bolton School queen bee we attempted to set bait hives, but this failed.

“So we manually scooped them into a box and eventually returned them to their starting point in the roof hive.”

“After school we searched for our new queen, and miraculously found her, amongst 35,000 bees.

“We marked her and fed the colony.”

Follow the beekeeping adventures at Bolton School on Twitter @BoltonBees.


  • Swarming bees look spectacular, but they are usually not aggressive. However, it is best to keep children and pets safely indoors.
  • Do not try to scare the bees away by waving your arms wildly at them or throwing water at them as this is liable to aggravate them.
  • Swarms that have settled in the open, for example in a bush or hanging from a branch, usually move off to a permanent site within a few hours.
  • If the bees are easily accessible, a local beekeeper may be willing to remove the swarm.
  • A search on the internet can often locate a telephone number of a local beekeeping association and they may be able to tell you how to contact a local beekeeper, or the British Beekeeping Association may be able to help.
  • You could also contact your local council to recommend someone who can deal with swarms.