A swarm of bees was spotted by an eagle-eyed shopper in Stevenage town centre recently.

Russell Elmes spotted the swarm on a bollard behind 26 Market Place towards the end of last month.

He put out a call on Facebook for any local beekeepers to assist, but the bees had moved on by the time staff from Stevenage Borough Council visited the site.

Bee swarms form when colonies reproduce by the old queen leaving with some of her worker bees.

The Comet: The bollard with the bee swarm (left); and the bollard after the bees had left.The bollard with the bee swarm (left); and the bollard after the bees had left. (Image: Russell Elmes/Stevenage Borough Council)

They leave their original hive and hang in a cluster until the scout bees find a new home. Swarms can include many thousands of bees.

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According to the British Beekeepers Association, "most swarms occur on warm sunny days from May to the end of July usually between 11am - 4pm".

If you spot a swarm while out and about, the Association's advice is to report it to a local beekeeper who will try to collect the bees and take them to a hive.

You can find a beekeeper near you on their website, and the Hertfordshire Beekeepers Association can be contacted here.