Up and down the country, honey bees are swarming following the recent spell of warm weather.

Despite being an un-nerving sight, swarming is actually a very normal part of the lifecycle of honeybees.

The bees are focused on finding a new nest, not on attacking humans.

Before they leave home they stock up on honey so are likely to be in quite a docile and pleasant state when at resting points between nests. However, when they are on the move, the colony is vulnerable, so more likely to attack.

Why does it happen at this time of year?

As the weather warms up, bee colonies expand as more workers are produced. As the crowded colony gets bigger and bigger it gets to the point when not all of the workers have access to the queen.

They are therefore no longer able to receive her pheromone signals and so for them it is as if she doesn't exist. This enacts the natural instinct within these workers to create a new honey bee queen.

Before the new queen emerges, the old queen takes off with part of her colony to establish a new nest.

What are they looking for?

Any kind of cavity is a potential space for a new nest. Hollows in trees and in rock faces anywhere from three to ten metres from the ground are ideal. The hollow must offer shelter from the elements and the entrance must be small enough for the bees to defend. Occasionally they will make a home in open spaces under an overhang.

What should I do?

If you encounter a swarm of bees, do not attempt to move them or interfere. If the swarm of bees is on your car, window or post box, they are just taking a rest and will soon move on to fulfill their nest-finding purpose.

Scout bees will have left the resting place to find a new nest and the rest of the swarm will be waiting for their return. This can sometimes take a couple of days: be patient and they will move on! The best thing to do is to stay away from the swarm and leave them to it.