A huge swarm of 20,000 bees who set up camp outside The Malls in Basingstoke have been rehomed by a kind-hearted security guard.

Onlookers were surprised to see the colony of honeybees settle on the edge of a brick wall outside the shopping centre, which has been closed during the lockdown.

And in a twist of good fortune, it just so happened security guard Graham Akerman happens to be a bee keeper - and he knew exactly what to do with the new residents.

Basingstoke Gazette:

On Sunday, May 17, Graham popped on his protective beekeeping suit and carefully set about transporting the bees back to his Basingstoke home, where he keeps his own colonies of honeybees.

He told the Gazette: “The trick is to find the queen bee first. Once you have her, the others will follow. I put her carefully in a box and the rest started to move too."

Despite removing the home of an estimated 20,000 bees, Graham wasn’t stung once. “If you are careful and take your time, you will be fine. We get at least one swarm here in this spot each year.

“I’m lucky as I can take them in at mine, though after this I won't have the capacity.

“However, if they return I can pick up the phone to the Basingstoke Bee-keeping Association to see if anyone else can help.”

Basingstoke Gazette:

Graham, who has been practising bee-keeping for three years, said it is a fascinating past-time: “Bees all act differently have have different traits. Some are more calmer than others. Others are more aggressive. If you are calm, they will be calm."

Unfortunately, a couple of bees died in the process.

He said: “It’s sadly quite normal. It’s the exhaustion they feel after flying around looking for a new home.”

Graham said bees often return to this area once a year and he thinks it could be due to the fact the spot is bathed in sunlight.

Swarms start when half of the bees in a colony leave with the old queen in search for a new home while the remaining bees raises a new queen.

Before leaving the colony, the swarming bees fill their stomachs with honey and are fairly docile. This would explain why the group, who temporarily were outside The Malls, did not cause any problems with passersby.

Brian Bush, of the Mid Bucks Beekeepers Association, told The Bucks Herald: "A swam of up to 30,000 bees is quite a frightening sight when they descend.

"After a few minutes, they will collect into a ball around their queen and may hang in a bush or tree for a few minutes or hours - occasionally they will be there a couple of days. Swarms have a much greater survival rate if they are collected and housed by a beekeeper."

May is peak swarming season for honeybees, according to experts.

The Basingstoke and District Beekeepers' Association receives a small grant from the council to provide a honeybee removal service. If you believe you have found a swarm of honeybees, contact 07580528482.