Usually found by observing the activity and noise of a large number of honey bees at a small entrance, particularly on warm sunny days. Colonies are usually seen in elevated positions, in trees, walls and roofs of buildings although entrances have been found in unlikely places such as hollow statues, compost bins, bird boxes and graveyard crypts, so rule nothing out.

From a distance, the colony can sometimes be confused with those of wasps, in cases where the wasps are very active. Some bumble bees are also cavity dwellers and will nest in small ground cavities which can also look like honey bee colony entrances however the bees are larger and there is a relative lack of numbers.