What's the buzz? 60,000 bees removed from CPFT building

Experts safely remove colony after 12 hours of painstaking - and painful - work

What's the buzz? 60,000 bees removed from CPFT building
20 September 2018


When staff at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust reported seeing bees flying into the roof of a building they never could have guessed they were working within a few feet of a colony of more than 60,000.

After a couple of roof panels were removed from Beechcroft in the grounds of Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge, the full extent of the enormous colony of bees was revealed.

As honey oozed from the between gaps in the brick and plasterwork, it took a specialist team more than 12 hours to safely remove the colony from Beechcroft, where several mental health teams who work for mental health and community care provider CPFT are based. The building is not open to patients.

The bees weren’t entirely happy to leave the home they had lived in for several years – and the team from the Tree Bee Society was stung several times in the course of its work.

Garry Locke, Estates and Facilities Project Manager at CPFT, said: “We were amazed when we saw how many bees were in the loft space of the porch of Beechcroft. We thought there might be a few because staff had reported seeing them flying in and out, but to see the size of the colony was incredible.

“We knew we wanted to move them safely and after speaking with my colleagues from Serco – which looks after the maintenance of our buildings – we decided to call in the Tree Bee Society. Once they got to work, and to find out there were 60,000 there and to see all the honey, was amazing.”

Abigail Reade, Director of The Tree Bee Society, a not-for-profit organisation which specialises in conserving honey and bumble bees, said: “It was a bit of surprise for the staff to know they were working so close to such a large colony.

“Staff had seen a few of the bees entering the roof space of the porch and when we removed a couple of the panels, there they all were. (pictured right) 

“We estimate when we see a colony of this size it contains between 50,000 and 60,000 bees – and this was certainly on the larger size. They had probably lived there for a number of years, and there was honey everywhere.”

Abigail, together with fellow directors Andy and Gail, set to work and carefully removed all the bees and the surrounding honeycomb.

It was painstaking work which took 12 hours to complete It was also painful work as the three experts got stung several times even though they were dressed head-to-toe in bee-keeping suits.

Abigail said: “It did take some time to move them from Beechcroft to a special bee hive which is about 3ft square in size that we carry with us, but that is usual for this kind of work.

“There was one queen bee at the centre of the colony and although we didn’t see her, we knew we’d finally got her when the majority of the bees started to follow her into the hive.

“We did get stung a few times and although we are used to it, it is still very painful. We’ve got full bee-keeping suits on, but a few can still find their way through a gap and sting us.

“We always aim to get every bee, we never leave any behind. When we were done, we closed the hive and took them back to our base in Burscough, West Lancashire, and they will live very happily in our field.”

Mark Eastell, Grounds Supervising Officer with Serco ASP, said: “We deal with all kinds of things looking after the buildings for CPFT, but it’s the first time we have seen a colony of 60,000 bees. It was an incredible sight, and it is great to know the bees have a great new home which is a bit more suitable than the porch at Beechcroft.”

To see a video of the Beechcroft bees on The Tree Bee Society’s Facebook page click here:


About Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) is a health and social care organisation, providing integrated community, mental health and learning disability services, across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and children’s community services in Peterborough. We support a population of just under a million people and employ nearly 4,000 staff. Our largest bases are at the Cavell Centre, Peterborough, and Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge, but our staff are based in over 90 locations. We are a University of Cambridge Teaching Trust and member of Cambridge University Health Partners, working together with the University of Cambridge Clinical School.

For more information please contact:

Andy Burrows
Media and Marketing Manager
E andy.burrows@cpft.nhs.uk
T 01223 219467



Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

IIP-logo-reversed Mindful-employer NHS-Employers-web Triangle-of-Care-member Twitter Logo Youtube Logo Facebook Logo Instagram Logo Wordpress Logo