A HUSBAND-and-wife beekeeping team answered an insect SOS from a shopping centre and collected four swarms of honey bees from the The Mall Blackburn’s car park.

The 60,000 bees had arrived either earlier that Wednesday or overnight and had settled on a smoking shelter on the roof of The Mall’s main car park in Blackburn town centre.

They were discovered by an employee who was shocked to come across the swarms, which prompted The Mall’s manager to call on Kath and Simon Cordingley, of the Bee Centre in Preston, for help.

Mrs Cordingley said: “A guy had gone out for a smoke and found he was surrounded by bees – not an everyday occurrence!”

She added: “They usually split off into two colonies, so half of the bees split off to build a new nest while the rest stayed behind and make a new queen.

“But in this case because the weather had suddenly turned wet and cold they weren’t able to do that, ” Mrs Cordingley said.

In total Mr and Mrs Cordingley collected between 40,000 and 60,000 bees from all four swarms, which they then took back to the centre in Preston.

Mrs Cordingley said: “They would have died if we had left them there overnight but they’re now in one of our quarantine apiaries.

“We’ve had them on a diet of sugar and water to give them the energy they need to build a new nest and start to forage for themselves again,” she added.

The Mall Blackburn operations manager Andrew Smith said: “The team were brilliant and very knowledgeable.

“They removed the bees quickly and efficiently and taught us lots of fascinating facts about them in the process.”

Mr and Mrs Cordingley have been keeping bees for 12 years and have run the centre in Preston for the past three years.

As well as rescuing bees, the husband and wife are involved in school visits, corporate away days as well as working with a Wigan-based company to produce beehives.

For more information, visit https://thebeecentre.org.