Bees, Bumble Bees, Solitary Bees and Wasps
Published 10.Sep.2008, 9:06pm
From February the very large furry bees appear, you might notice the various colours and be amazed or you might well be alarmed by such animals which for a few people are scary. This is probably a reaction to a childhood encounter, threats by a cajoling mother, actually being stung or bitten by insects. Such phobias exist, often for the wrong reason, researching and finding out facts about the lifestyle and ecological importance of the insect that scares you will likely overcome your fear and indeed encourage you to see these insects in a different light.
I am plagued by telephone enquiries every Summer from well intentioned people asking the same or similar questions. Many questions can be answered by reference to a book, many can not, the following FAQ's are to assist you to understand, then make the appropriate enquiry to a beekeeper or entomologist without wasting yours or their time on lengthy explanations. I make reference to wasps as well.
Bees and Wasps are divided into three recognisable types;
A permanent highly organised and communicating social insect having a fertile egg laying queen, between 10k & 90k infertile but highly skilled & organised female workers and some rather lazy males called drones per colony. A great deal of information is readily available from the Internet, libraries, bee research Institutes and Universities in the UK and world wide with an International library in Wales http://www.ibra.org.uk/
2. Bumble bees
Firstly there are some three or four books published in the UK and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust http://www.bumblebeeconservation.org.uk/
Bumble bee queens, (Bombus sp) live just about twelve months, they emerge as virgin queens from nests underground and above ground between the end of July to the middle of August, it may now be earlier due to climate change, they build up body fat ready for five months of hibernation, the queens vary a little in size dependant on breed and the quantity of larval food consumed. The largest are equivalent to the size of your thumb from it's tip to the first joint, colours vary from all black, black with white or orange abdominal tip to brilliant rusty or yellow bands and multi coloured dull rusty to primrose yellow bands. Finding good illustrated coloured plates is, I must say difficult, so why not take a photograph of some bumble bees and submit them to the webmaster!
The queens emerge in Spring from hibernation, they first search out nectar bearing flowers from which they feed on nectar and pollen at the same time pollinating those flowers causing seed to be set. When nice and plump and feeling the time is right they search out a suitable nest site, a disused mouse nest underground, thick grass tufts over ground and warm roofs above ground, commonly they are to be found in compost heaps which provide moist warm environment suitable to their needs.
The queen builds a saucepan like cell of wax and lays several eggs in it, she feeds and cares for the larvae. As these worker bees emerge they take over nursing and feeding, foraging for pollen and nectar amongst the flowers in your garden.
Bumble bees are no threat whatsoever, if you have young children then they are an ideal social insect to watch and learn about. Peg out four sticks around the nest area to indicate the nest position, say two foot by two foot or for the children 60cm by 60cm, now look through your natural history books with the children to identify which specie you have. Take the children to the library to search through more books if yours do not have sufficient information. See what colour pollen the bees carry on their legs, ask the children if they can see the same colour pollen on the flowers in your garden. Use a clock or stop watch so the children can count how many bees leave the nest in a minute, how many return in a minute repeat this three times during the day, aggregate the sums and divide up to find the average. Bumble bees leave the nest for thirty to sixty minutes; see if you can calculate how many bees might be in the nest. Bumble bees never swarm like honeybees and rarely reach more than seventy bees in a colony, that said I found three nests in 2001 with over 500 bees and four pounds of honey.
If you need to remove the bumble bees from your house, compost heap or garden for some compelling reason and remember they die out in August / September, providing it can be accessed it is a simple matter to collect up the nest by a honeybee keeper. The nest must be carefully exposed all round until it is above it's surroundings, a small shovel, spade or adequately thin strong tool is needed to slide below the nest lifting it as a whole, a cardboard box laid on it's side with flaps open ready to receive the nest, slide the nest carefully into the box, stand the box where the nest was until dark when it can be closed up with all the bees inside, tape the box shut, punch small ventilation holes through the box. Take the box over two miles away and lodge in a sheltered place under a shed or some sort of protective cover. Bumble bees are endangered, it is illegal to kill the bees, anyone found to have poisoned them risks prosecution, the maximum fine in the Magistrates Court is £25k, unlimited in Crown Court, average fine imposed at present is £1,5k. You can purchase a proper bumble bee home for £25. Bee keepers will charge to remove these nests when absolutely necessary, average cost £45.
3. Solitary bees
There are over two hundred different types in the UK most do not sting, any that could do not because their stings are too weak to penetrate us. If your garden, house or outbuildings present the right accommodation requirements then you may be blessed with solitary bees, which come in all sizes and shapes and colours. The adult bees are visible only for 6-8 weeks during their breeding cycle which coincides with the flowering period of those flowers that produce pollen and nectar suitable for their particular needs. This flowering period often coincides with the honeybee swarming period thus causing confusion as to what bees they are. Although no danger exists it is a fact that some people are terrified because they do not understand the bees. To remove solitary bees to a different location is impossible and it is illegal to poison them just as with bumble bees. There is a method to relocate them if done at the right time, that is to deny them access to the nest site they emerged from with the use of a screen, use one of the artificial nest blocks that you can purchase or make, site this in front of the screen. When the bees have disappeared after a few weeks remove the nest block to a new location in the garden in a sunny South facing area. You may have to erect the screen in successive years as well as providing artificial nest sites. It would be easier to learn exactly which specie of bee you have, study its lifestyle in depth then ignore the problem you currently perceive.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I have bees coming in my house, what shall I do?
A. First identify them, consult natural history books, if necessary consult a bee keeper or entomologist.
Q. They are not wasps I know what wasps look like, and bumble bees are large, these are honeybees.
A. If they are in the ground or a compost heap and there are a number coming and going on a regular basis they are probably worker bumble bees which are a smaller version of the queen bumble bee. Bumble bees vary in size quite remarkably. To distinguish between a bee and a wasp look for the pollen baskets on their legs or for some solitary bees a big patch of pollen under their belly.
Q. I have honeybees in my compost bin what shall I do?
A. Honeybees are often found hanging their comb under the lids of compost bins provided the compost does not smell, a beekeeper should be called and can easily remove the bees together with the comb. If they are in the compost then they are bumble bees and should be left to the end of their days in September. Do not kill them, they are an endangered species, if necessary they can be relocated over three miles away, this could cost you between £45 and £75 pounds.
Q. I am a keen gardener, I need bees to pollinate my fruit, there is swarm of bees hanging in my apple tree, are they dangerous?
A. No they are not at all dangerous, swarming bees rarely sting as there are so many immature juveniles in a swarm, bees rarely sting without provocation anyway. Keep about a yard away from the swarm and inform a beekeeper who will collect them.
Q. I have just bought an old period house, I am horrified, I have just come home from work to find bees in the bedrooms and dining room. They are crawling all over the floor, up the curtains and at the windows please help me.
A. It sounds as if a swarm has gone into the chimney to form it's nest (Combs) as the flues are dusty and there is no comb to hold onto a lot of young bees have fallen down both the flue to be occupied and the adjacent flues. (Flues are the voids from fireplace to the top of the chimneystack.) They cannot take off vertically like a helicopter although they seem to hover like a jump jet. The flue is 9" square (225mm) once at the bottom they are like trapped potholes and must either climb back or feel air coming in from the fireplace or ventilator, they do the latter and emerge into the room. You have a simple solution, either open the windows and let them out or vacuum them up. Lay in a fire as soon as and fuel with as much grass cuttings as possible to create smoke this will drive the bees out. Where no fireplace exists remove the ventilator and pump in smoke with a beekeepers smoker to drive out the bees, this can take up to three hours and is best done on the day the bees go in, after the third day of occupation it is almost impossible to get the bees out, they have to be lifted out together with their comb from the chimney top thereafter.
Q. I have bees behind the tile hanging of my house, I had them poisoned last year but they have come back, what can I do to stop them.
A. Yes and so they will for ever, firstly the pest man did not do his job properly, he killed the bees OK but he left poisoned honey for other bees to steal, that caused the local bee keepers bees to die and poisoned the honey in his hive so he could not sell it. Perhaps he did not know his bees had been poisoned and sold the honey quite innocently. The solution is simple and does not require the bees to be killed. If the tiles are in sound order then remove the plaster from inside the wall, take out the honeycomb and stored in closed buckets, take out the bees on the brood combs and put in a hive which can be kept in your garden, this will deter other bees from living in your wall, more importantly, deny bees access to your walls by filling the voids with rockwool or fibreglass and seal up the access points used by the bees. An alternative is to cover the wall temporarily with a tarpaulin and hanging a bait hive in front of it into which the swarm will go, this needs to be in place from the beginning of April till the end of August. There will be a hire charge and a charge for taking away each swarm.
Q. Can I stop bees and wasps from occupying my roof.
A. No, not with any certainty, current building regulations require roofs to be ventilated and yet insulated, water tanks in your roof have to be covered and overflow pipes must have insect proof screens in them. Clearly contamination prevention was in the minds of the legislators, but not wasps or bees both of which need only a quarter inch (6mm) access hole to your roof. The builders would have obliged with this hole had not the legislators. 3mm 1/8 " mesh is required to prevent bees and wasps, flies as well entering your roof space. Beyond this there is little you can do other that becoming a beekeeper and having a hive in the garden. If builders need to repair your house the bees can be removed first.
Q. I have some bees in the eaves of my house, what should I do?
A. Identify exactly what they are, some bumble bees nest in the eaves, in 2001 three house in the same road had bumble bees in the eaves also there were over 800 bees present in each, they do no harm are very docile and come to an end about September time, leave them alone. Honeybees are different, they will store up to 150lbs of honey, if your house is a bungalow then certainly have them taken out and put in a hive, if a two storey or more high house then leave them unless you need building work done, this is the time to remove the bees at a sensible cost, scaffolding will be needed and so that cost is defrayed. If a chimney is to be rebuilt or demolished then that is the time to remove bees.
Q. I have some insects flying from my eaves, they must be bees because I have not seen them before.
A. You could be right, you could be wrong especially if it is June, wasps will have been there since May but so few you would have to be lucky to notice them, in June they build up numbers dramatically so you see them. You know they are bright yellow and black but honestly can you see the colours against the skyline when you are on the ground? I can see which they are as they fly differently to each other especially on landing. Bees have hind legs that hang down like the undercarriage of an aircraft, wasps do not, bees slow up and move side to side if there is congestion at the entrance, wasps do not they either plough straight in or go round for another try. Wasps are also slightly but discernibly smaller than bees.
Q. I have a swarm of bees in my hedge. Can you take them away?
A. Yes, but are they bees? Can you see the insects if not then they are probably European wasps. This applies in houses to wasps and bees as well. If the insects are visible but not the combs then they are likely to be bees, if the nest is seen with the insects coming out then suspect wasps.
Q. I have a swarm of bees gone into my chimney, if I leave them will they go away?
A. Unlikely, it is very rare for the bees to go unless they find they have made a serious mistake, such as moving into a roof space where the temperature rises too high for them to control, or a chimney where the reaction between lime and sulphuric acid from old soot is so active as to cause them to leave.
Q. What can I do, bees come every year into my house, I have them killed and in some years it happens three or four times, each time the pest man comes it costs £90.
A. Very simply deny the bees access by filling the voids with rockwool or fibreglass in the case of external walls and seal the entrances with a proprietary building mastic. In the case of chimneys insert stainless steel woven mesh of 3mm squares maximum size, no greater, no smaller, bed it into mortar under the pots, ventilation will continue but no insects will get through. Put a bird cage over the pots to prevent nests being built, ensure following owners are made aware as monoxide poisoning will result if a gas fire were fitted subsequently. This answer presumes honeybee occupation.
Q. There are bees going into the wall of my house, I have young children for whose safety I am concerned, I need to get rid of them but do not want them killed. The bees go into different holes along the South facing wall.
A. First it would be illegal to kill these bees, secondly totally unnecessary as they do not sting and are no danger whatsoever nor do they damage your house. They are one of some fifty specie of solitary bee that construct cells within holes in brickwork, locks, hard sunny earth or sandstone banks. They provision the cells with nectar and pollen, lay an egg, seal the cell and depart. They may construct the cells in a tunnel one in front of the next, side by side or whatever. Despite being described as solitary many are gregarious reaching the high fifties or in the right spot the low hundreds. They are only around for a few weeks after which they depart.
You say you have children, here is a splendid opportunity both for you and the children, do make the most of it!
Look through your natural history books with your children, find as many pictures of bees as possible for the youngest, help the older to read the descriptions, ask them if any are the same as those in your wall. Take them to the public library, show them where to find the natural history section even the museum as well can help. Use the computer via the Internet to look up information. This applies to bumble bee nests as well. Mark out an area with sticks or chalk around the nest. Tell the children, "that is their space" have a time piece with a minute sweep hand, teach them to count how many bees "in" in a minute and "out" in a minute, do this at different times of the day, add up and subtract the differences. For the older children make a chart, work out averages and such like. Note the different pollen colours, observe flowers in your garden, in the park, what colour pollen do flowers have, the same or different? Can you see your bees working there, if not then where? There is so much for you and your children to learn TOGETHER.
This will overcome any phobias you might have. NEVER THREATEN YOUR CHILDREN BY SCARING THEM ABOUT BITING AND STINGING INSECTS AND ANIMALS or they will grow with unreal phobias, TEACH THEM WHICH INSECTS BITE AND STING, WHICH ANIMALS KICK AND BITE AND WHY THAT IS SO. If you don't know why because you were never taught then it is generally a defensive action or an action needed in their feeding or reproduction regime.
Remember, killing bees is selfish, unnecessary and ultimately will contribute to the general destruction of the planet and the future generations of yours and my offspring. Help the planet produce food for us all, keep the bees, turn your engines off when sitting waiting in traffic jams and at traffic lights, it will save you money and harm the planet ozone less.
106 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
Most interesting... I have a garden and have planted some fruit trees, is there a design for a box or home for bees that I can make...... I am not interested in honey, just helping and encouraging bees
Hi, We were working in the yard today, and accidentally "dug" up what looks to be 4 queen bumble bees hibernating. We want to save them, so we took a cup, filled it with the moist dirt we found them in, put them inside, covered them with leaves and a light layer of the same dirt they came from, and for now the cup is in the garage where it is cool. Should we do something different? I love watching them all in the summer! Please email me as soon as you can, and I thank you ahead of time.
Webmaster comments "Leave them outside under cover (dry place) and hope for the best".
I have just discovered a bumble bee going into a hole and under the base of the shed. I have read some articals about them and have now decided to plant the garden with more flowers to encourage them, is there anything else I can do for them? they are so beautiful.
Hi, I have a lot of different bees in my garden but one is causing a bit of a worry. It is a rather large bee with a white, pointy face and it seems to attack other bees and bumble bees and chase them away from the flowers. It hovers in the air behind a bee busy collecting honey and then suddenly it attacks. What is this bee?
Do Bumble bees, wasps and yellow jackets live underground? Last year I found a nest of bumble bees in the rear of my home. This year I noticed these funny holes of dirt near my shed. Is there were bumble bees or wasps or yellow jackets come out of when spring is here?
Have just moved a shed to dig up the remainder of some awful bamboo roots, and seem to have found an underground nest of bumble bees. I want to rotivate my garden soon to prepare for a lawn what should i do about the bumble bees as i did not know they were endangered until tonight and my neighbour informed me about the bumble bees. It is illegal to kill them so how can i move them on safely. I live in the countryside and i assume that they are getting pollen from the surrounding fields full of rape.Help!!! live in the south east of kent outside ashford kent.
Hi, I have a bird box next to my back door which bees have made their home. It’s becoming a problem as it’s on a very windy part of the garden and they are regularly blown on to the ground in our small garden and I have a 10 month son who loves anything new and we have had a few near missing with him trying to grab them. I understand moving them can be hard but with them being contained in a bird box is that going to make it easier? Does anyone know of a good bee keeper near Hythe who would come and re home them Many thanks in advance for your advice.
We have, what looks like worker honeybees, coming and going under our shed. In normal circumstances we would just live and let live but the shed is in dire need of repair as it is rapidly subsiding on one side. So much so that my husband keeps having to plane the door so that we can shut it. We are worried about what's underneath the shed, i.e. will they swarm, will they sting us if they are disturbed etc etc. Your advice as to the best plan of action will be very gladly received. Regards, Carol Cox
We have a bumble bees nest in our garden. Can you tell me why they crawl over the earth, moving leaves,earth and anything that gets in their way, but seem to go back to the nest with nothing. Are they getting something from the soil?
Carol, I doubt that the bees are honey bees, I suggest they are solitary bees which look similar, they will have dispersed by now having made little cells in the dry earth below the shed. They do not sting either.
Sylvia, I do not know the answer to your question, I would have thought that like wasps they were enlarging the hole in which their nest is and you observed the spoil being removed.
There is a very active colony of bumble bees situated in the void above my enclosed entrance porch. I have no problem with this apart from the unpleasant smell the nest produces. Every time the porch door is closed there is a loud hum from the bees in the roof. I shall monitor their behaviour. I wish them no harm, but would prefer them to be nesting in my garden or shed. When their activities cease, the nest will be removed and access blocked.....unless they force me to take action before.
I have a nest of bumble bees in my garden, they present no problem and are great to observe. They are the ones with a white bottom. As my knowledge of bees is very limited, I with to enquire if the back pair of legs on a bumble bee normally seem to have blobs of dull-looking tar on them. What I have seen before is the back legs covered with yellowish pollen. Thank you, RayH.
i have recenlt moved into a rented Victrorian cottage. in June we started to get a few bees in the house, i thought nothing of this and collected them in a glass looked t them for while and then let them outside. however on some occasions i came home to find up to 8 dead bees on the floor. I am now aware that there is a colony in the chimney of the house, this fact in itself does not bother me, in fact i am rather pleased due to the current plight of the honey bee (none i have et out so far appear to have any parasits) my main concern is that of the bees dying when entering the house, and therefore would like to have them removed. the information on this website has been very useful to me. could you please inform me of the avarge cost of the removal of bees from a chimney and the cost of fitting the mesh to ensure more do not return.
I have found a solitary bumble bee in my porch on the floor. I picked it up and put it on my vase of daffodils last night. This morning it is still there and very lethargic not moving much at all. I don't want to put it outside as it is raining heavily. What should I do with it?
hi i have what appears to be a honey bee nest in the ground under our fence, i am happy to leave them be but have concerns over my young children near them, specifically the baby who will be crawling soon. If one of them stands on a bee presumably it will sting? with this in mind would it be wise to move it?
I have recently dug up my back garden so i can plant more vegetables and flowers. Whilst adding manure and raking etc, i noticed that there were several honey bees hovering over the soil and every now and then go under the soil and then come back up. Can you tell me what they are doing and do i need to do anything?
The article on Bumble Bees states that they are an endangered species. This is incorrect. 4 species are classed as endangered in Ireland but none are in the UK. Therefore if any nest is proving to be a hazard to the public they can reluctantly be destroyed by a pest control company.
Honeybees do not live underground Bumble bees do . They can sting but rarely do. Put a screen around the entrance to the nest or an upturned bucket without a bottom so the bees fly out above ground and the baby can not crawl over the entrance.
The second enquiry is about solitary bees which are provisioning their offspring, if you read the article above you will see the answer that refers.
I have an old bird nest which some bumble bees, yellow jacket I believe have occupied and I have been pleasantly watching them fly in and out. Recently some slightly smaller but similar looking beers have appeared and are constantly swarming around in front of the nest. Are these worker bumble bees or are they attempting to hijack the nest? Also I discovered a large bumble bee with another smaller bee sat on it's back whilst it was crawling around on the floor. Is this a mating ritual?
I have a newly formed fairly large colony on Honeybees set up home behind the fascia board at roof level of my home. The position of their nest is not accessible. Is it necessary or adviseable to have them removed or is it Ok to leave them be (excuse the pun) and enjoy their prescence. Oddly I have spent the last 3 years filling the garden with bee and butterfly attractant plants. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I do believe that there really is no danger so long as you don't bother them, is that correct? The patio and seating area is around 30 feet away from them, must admit I do admire the little critters, shame we cannot get UK human workers to perform as well as the bees then there would be no recessions ever again.
Hello, hoping you can help me. I have noticed bee's coming in and out of a small hole by the side of my waste pipe on the outside of my house. I have rang the landlord and he has blocked the hole up without removing the bee's nest/hive. I now have bee's crawling about in my bathroom. Im just wondering if there is anything i can do to get rid of them. I fell into a hive when was younger and was stung alot and i am now petrified of them
We have bumble bees in the brick work of our house, we noticed that the corner of the house was damaged so called in a bricky to fix it, at which point when he started to remove one loose brick he said the bees were going mad - until this point we had no idea we had bees. obviously we want our brick work fixed as it looks damaged and know it is illegal to kill the bees and we wouldn't want too. I think we will need a bricky and bee specialist. I assume we can claim under house insurance, (the bricky said the brick work had been badly repaired before) we have been in the house 10 yrs and the crack has got worse so we only now decided to fix it..... could it be a huge nest/
I have seen small dark bees going in and out of my childrens wooden playhouse which has a gap of 4/5 inches all the way round the bottom between floor and the ground as it stands on some bricks. It is difficult actually impossible to see under where a nest if any is, as there are stones round the side (possibly an ideal nesting place) my concern is that the children playing above may disturb the nest i would hate for them to get stung should i keep them away from the playhouse?
Please email these questions directly to me as I rarely have time to read the comments section here by which time they are well out of date. In respect of the honeybee question, leave them be as to the bumble bee questions the same applies as they will be there only till Autumn when the colony dies and the nests are never reused.
I have found honey bees going into my brick ventilation there seems to be a queen I think its in my kitchen wall I have kitchen cupboards on the inside of it I am woerried they will get into my kitchen as I live alone Im afraid of that how can I get them out.
Eve their nest is normally the size of a tennis ball, the cavity acroos your wall gives a sufficient area for the nest, however there is a screen behind the inner ventilation grill on hte wall behind your cupboards such that they can not enter your kitchen nor will they as they simply want to bring up their young within the nest and enter and exit your house from the outside. They will disperse in late Audgust early September.
My neighbour in the flat downstairs reported "hornets" entering the eaves and informed our landlord. It turns out they were bumblebees - I can provide a photo if necessary. The landlord sent around a company "to take a look" and, despite my admonition to the landlord not to, they killed the swarm. Frankly, I'm disgusted and horrified as the bees posed no threat AFAICS. I see there has been some debate here as to fines and I want to know whether I can undertake a prosecution action against whomever was responsible. If anyone can advise authoritatively, I'd be grateful.
Hi, we had a really large swarm of bees arrive at our house on Tuesday morning. The swarm has now gone but there are around 20 bees hovering around near the facsia of our flat roofed kitchen extension with some of them crawling up inside the fascia. Should we just leave them or will they move on themselves? The nest isn't visable and I can't see a definate entrance. We live in a terraced house so the bees are hovering on the next door neighbours garden rather than ours. Please advise so that I can reasure my neighbour.
Hi, I have a nest of Bumble bees in my shed, right at the back below the shelves where I need to get to. as soon as I enter the shed one or two come out to check me out so I don't feel confident about rummaging around on the shelves.I can put up with it for this year, but cannot have them there again next. From your comments it seems they will die off soon, but will the queen still live & make a nest there again next year? Could I get one of those log homes for bees, & if so how would I get them to live there rather than in my shed?
We have a stable and a bumble bee nest it is disturbing our horse when he comes into the stable and when we are in the stable bees fly around us constantly they are bumble bees, will they go away after august and do they return at all to the same nest?
We came across a bees nest in our hedge we want removed how do i remove the bees so we can continue ??
J the bumbles will be gone shortly and they do not reuse a formrer nest. Kathy, if you can see the nest and not the insects then they are wasps. If you can see the insects and not the nest then they are are honeybees, call a bee keeper.
I have discovered a wasps' nest inside my Daphne bush, identified by a beekeeper as such, when I called him in thinking I had bees. Is there any reason why i shouldn't leave the wasps alone - I rarely see one out and about? Will this change in August? I would rather leave them alone, and divert them with saucer of jam in the garden if they seem to want to come in the house. The nest is about 22ft from the back door. The Daphne leaves look healthier than for many years, so the wasps have been eating aphids, presumably.
Hi Peter, I'm in the middle of fixing up my back garden and came across a large number of what look like solitary bees or maybe they're Carder bumblebees (they have a rusty coloured fuzzy thorax), could there be both? They are under an old plastic coal bunker that had the bottom cut out of it so it could be used as a make shift compost bin. It was never aerated properly so it still has a lot of uncomposited twigs, leaves and grass at the bottom of it. When it was pulled back to be removed along with it's contents we got a great surprise as a large number of the bees mentioned above flew out, obviously rightly upset at the disturbance! I'm actually organizing my garden so as to attract these lovely creatures but this colony is 'very' close to the house. The container was hastily returned to cover the area and gradually everything quietened back down but I do need these little lads and lasses to move on from here. If the container is removed and the area left uncovered, will they just gradually disperse? I have no problem waiting until September for the current season of bumblebees to be over but if these are solitary bees will they hibernate in the same soil over the Winter? This area is due to be completely covered with weed suppressant and gravel. Please tell me they abandon the nest completely. I don't want them finding a horrible surprise in the Spring!! I genuinely don't wish to harm them so any suggestions you may have will be gratefully received. Carol
The wasp nest in the bush is a relatively docile European wasp,(Vespa dolich median) like hornets, also docile, there are never more than 500 prsent at any time, they are also the first to produce queen wasps for next year's generation. They have or are currently abandoning their nests and they disperse, the workers are the size of our queen wasps and the queen looks like a worker hornet.
Dear Sir, I have a beekeeper quite close to my house and every summer when the bees are out pollen hunting they drop or discard some of the pollen on their way back to the hive and in so doing cover my car, my wife's washing and also the windows of my house incurring a considerable cost to me. Please advise what action I should take. P.S. I am an ardent nature lover.
I have just found three cylindrical ?nests hanging from the roof inside my shed.They look like suspended acorns,are 3-4 inches across,the largest,2inches the smallest,they look like grey plastic(two)one is yellow.
Guinness, those are wasp stater nests abandonded earlier in the year. Brian glad to hear you have understood. Mr. Graham, defeacation is an act of nature for all living matter including Homo sapiens. A tip in respect of the washing, allow the washing to dry then give a sharp shake, pollen and other matter will generally fly off without staining. Bees are not the only insects responsible, birds are just as effective with greater mess, especially herons and seagulls. Another tip is to provide airial cover above the washing line.
I am a chimney sweep and have been asked to sweep a chimney that the customer states has a bees nest inside. They think its a bumble bee nest, but are not certain. From research on the internet It seems likely that the bees are either masonary or bumble bees, but could be honey bees. Could you advise me of the legal implications of sweeping the chimney and damaging the nest or harming the bees, and also could you advise me of the likely effectiveness of sweeping the chimney with a standard brush. Thanks.
I believe we have a bee nest in the stone wall , the insects are dark coloured and small (no bright yellow) about the size of a wasp or possibly smaller. They were all over the flowers in the sunshine yesterday in large numbers but as soon as the sun went down they disappeared inside even though it was still light. Will they be there all summer or will they leave soon and should I take any action my only concern is a narrow entrance to the property and there are a large number of them are a concern when entering and leaving. would appreciate any advice we live in Brenchley Kent.
Hi, over the last few weeks we have noticed a very large fat bee which we think is a bumble bee going under our outdoor stone porch. Is it likely that a nest is being built and will it cause problems for us as we have to use this porch to gain access into our house? We are quite willing just to leave it alone to get on with things but don't want to risk our 2 year old granddaughter being stung. We would be grateful for any comments.
Hi, I have just had identified a nest of white-tailed bumble bees. The nest is in my garage in an old holdall. Though they are not causing any problems at present I shall be clearing out my garage in the next couple of months. What is the best way to get them removed or should I leave them until September? We have found a dead queen next to the holdall, but the nest is fully active. We have watched and timed the number of bees coming and going they calculations were 20 first minute leaving, 8 returning, the next period there were 16 arriving and 15 leaving then the last was 17 arriving and 19 leaving. The holdall is a standard large sports holdall measuring about 3 foot long by 1 1/2 foot wide by 2 feet deep, the noise from the bag sounds horrendous at times.
Hello, I'm Sarah, a couple of days ago, me and my partner were driving through a country lane when in the distance we could see what seemed to be a black cloud, as we approached we realised it was a huge swarm of bees, there must have been at least 2000 of them, we quickly closed our windows!!!, we drove through them. we found this event rarther bizzare, it was almost like something out a horror film, we had to warn a couple of bikers further up the road.
Help, I've noticed for the second time a bumble bee going under the door of my outbuilding. When I check to see where it has gone I cant find it. This building is due for clearing in the summer and I concerned as I do not want to disturbed this nest or hive if there is one, however, I have only ever seen one bee? I dont really know very much about them. Any information would be greatly appreciated especially about where they like to set up home. This building is full of rubbish stuff?
Peter I would love to relocate the bees to your farm, sadly though I am in the Midlands, (just south of Leicester). I have decided to leave them where they are in the garage, given me an excuse with the good lady wife for not clearing the garage out at this time. However I have a slightly larger problem with another nest of bee's, these too are White Tailed Bumble bees. At first we thought nothing of them crawling into the airbrick in the cavity wall, assuming they would nest in the cavity. Today I observed the cat showing a great interest at the radiator pipe inthe living room. On removing the cat I have discovered that the nest is actually under the floorboards, i have blocked the hole next to the radiator so they cannot emerge into the living room from there. Now comes the but, I telephoned a local bee man on a number that the council gave me, he has informed me that because they are bumble bees they are a protected species, so I cannot do anything to remove the nest at the moment, if they swarm into my living room then they can be deemed a pest but once again because they are Bumble bees nothing to do with the council pest control. He then dropped the bombshell of informing me that there would most probably be 4 new queens in the nest as that is all the workers are tending (the new queens for next year), that when they come to leave the nest to hibernate they would most probably do so under the floorboards as it would be easier for them. Now though they would not nest in the same place next year, they could nest under the same floorboards but in a different area some five foot from where the current nest is now. Can you confirm if this is true? I do hope you say that they will go else where.
Hi Shirley, it is late in the season for a bumble bee queen to start a nest, there seasonal nest ends in August or September, this year that may be as a much a month or six weeks earlier. If necessary thety can be moved.
I have bees in my shed. They seem to come and go against the wall and then disappear. I need to go in my shed each day as I have a water but there that i hold pure water in that I have to make and store each day for my business. I have come to a good solution. I now make my water at night and also siphon of the water from the water butt each evening. This way I don't get in the way of the bees as they seem to be asleep at night.
Dear Paul, It is good that you have found a solution to your problem that works for you and your bees.
It is probably bumble bees that you have and this year they are having a hard time finding sufficient nectar and pollen due to drought conditions. I have found that many colonies are producing next years queens already because of the unusual weather and cold nights which are almost Autumnal.
You will probably notice a decline in their numbers from now on and my guess is that there will be none left before the end of July. If you remember you might email me then to say if I was correct or not!
Hi, I have found a bees nest at my moms house in Birmingham, they are the most beautiful bees I have ever seen, they are huge and they are bright orange/red. My family wants to kill them but I think that would be such a shame, are they doing any harm in the brickwork? It's a semi detached house.
I saw a gigantic Queen Bee land in conservatory this afternoon and buzzed frantically around then went up into roof of conservatory behind sunblinds and hasnt reappeared so far why would it do this?
I am doing some winter tidying up of the garden and have just discovered what appears to be a nest of bumble bees in my compost heap. There was a loud buzzing noise and 3-4 bumble bees flew out and another 4 were crawling around on the heap. I thought January would be free of bumble bee nests? Or could I just have 8-9 queen bees all hibernating in the same place?
I have found three very large fluffy orange bees in my kitchen over the last couple of days that I think have emerged from a hole next to a heating pipe coming through the ceiling. Each bee has exited as soon as I have opened the kitchen window. I am assuming they are in the cavity. Any idea what type of bee we have and can you recommend how/if we can relocate them? I have a strong phobia of buzzy insects and this is really putting me on edge.
Hi, our elderly neighbour has had approximately 15 bumble bees in her living room over the last 3-4 days, they are only being found in the living room and occasionally in the adjacent kitchen. 4 one day, 3 the next, then 4 again the day after. There are no windows or doors open, there are no open air vents or holes where pipes come into the house. She has a gas fire which is fitted to the wall in the living room. We have looked around for where they could be coming in but cannot find anywhere. The only place we could think of was that they could possibly be coming in through her fire and from the flue and chimney behind it. Would this be likely or not? she is thinking of calling in a bee expert/remover but this will obviously cost her money and as she is a pensioner and her hubby is blind and disabled, we would like to help her out if we can, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. It is more a case of finding out where they are coming into the property from that is a problem. Many thanks.
If you have a query about bees, wasps etc. email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org also where possile attach some fotos of the insects and their location.
I rarely look at this page so unless you use the quick link at the top of the page or copy and paste this email address it is unlikely you will hear from me!!!
Hi I have found a HUGE bee in my bathroom and it doesn't look like anything similar to these images... sure it was black and yellow but it was fatter.. We have a garden but we don't grow flowers and it's May and bad weather. We've had guests over and we thought they maybe opened a window, i don't know. Our friends have had some in their rooms too. What are these? we live in central london.
Thank you for a wonderfully informative site. Knowing that they are just temporary residents, I am now no longer concerned about the white-tailed bumbles that have set up home in a small roof cavity above my front door. (Although I shall be sealing it off once they've gone!)
Thank you for a wonderfully informative site. Knowing that they are only temporary residents, I am no longer worried about the white-tailed bumble bees That have set up home in a small cavity above my front door.
Thank you for a very useful faq page. It would seem that we have bumble bees in our eaves. Neither my husband nor I want to harm them in any way (quite the reverse, we both love bees) but were concerned in case they could cause unseen damage. Having read your page, we can now relax, completely enjoy their presence and introduce our grandaughter to the life of bees. Thanks again
I was just wondering if you could Answer me a question. I saw a huge bumble bee about 4 weeks ago happily sat on my sons bed! He or she had come through the open window. I was startled by the size so I closed the door for it 2 make its own way out. I mentioned it 2 my husband and he said it will be gone by the time my son got back from his dads a few days l8r. Well 2night I was sat in my sons room! 4 weeks on now and a very poorly looking bumble bee was crawling across the bed! It must have been the same bee. It has the same markings but looked very poorly and wasn't bothered when I scooped him up and put him outside. I can't believe it. Is this normal? Have you ever heard anything like this before? I read that they only live a day or so without food. How could it have lasted so long? I'm intregued please let me no what you think!
Thank you I have been able to find out what to do about the bees that have taken up residence in my chimney. Pam
Hi I am increasingly seeing very large bees (I think), not lots the odd one here and there. they have what seems to be a two part body, very darkish and around an inch and a half in length. they do resemble a very large wasp, but without the traditional wasp markings. They are flying around in a docile manner, not anxious at all. I am in the Kent area, but this is the first time I or friends have seen them this large. Does anyone know what these are, if in fact they are bees?
Andy your description could describe a European hornet Vespa crabo, email me a foto email@example.com
Thanks to all the above readers who have found these pages useful. Anyone requiring a reply should copy and paste this email address or use the quick link at the top of the page. I rarely have time to read the comments by which time your problem will be long past.
We recently bought a house to renovate. The builders have started to remove the internal walls and reported that there is honey running down the cavities and nests are visible. Some are empty and smell fusty, but others they have had to leave for now as they are active. I'm estimating that 4-5 nests have been found. The house is an old timber framed one and has many gaps inside & out. When we first acquired the house I was shovelling large buckets of dead bees, wasps, hornets and ladybirds up from near the windows. (there are so many that the carpet is not visible for some 10" from the windows which are the width of the with facing rooms). Initially I thought that these had built up over time but now realise that this quantity builds up over a few weeks in the summer. I am talking to a friend who keeps bees, hoping that he will be able to give them a new safe home. When all building work is finished we would like to re- establish a colony here, but outside the house next time. In the meantime we need to clean up the honey and prevent the building from attracting the bees back - what should be treat the timbers with?
I have a flat roof extension on the back of my house. For several weeks now i have noticed little bees (baby bees???) going into the same gap in the roof. There doesnt appear to be large numbers of bees, its just that every now and then if I happen to see a bee by my back door it eventually flies and enters the roof. What should I do? Im quite happy to just leave them but am interested to know if and when they will leave so that I can block the holes up! Thankyou
Karla send me some fotos of the bees and where they enter the flat roof! my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and there is a link at top of this page.
Found a bee mooching about my work top yesterday. It looks like a large wasp but darker colour. Seems very lathergic . What should i do with it? I have put it outside but its cold today and it looks half dead. HELP
Clearing out my garage I have found that some bumble bees are creating a nest in the garage. I need to move them, and have seen the info above. Do I have to take them 2 miles away, or could I move the nest to a bumble bee house in the garden?
You must move the bees out of their present forage area, leave them in sheltered for about four days, then you can bring them back to your bee house for the rest of their season.
Let me know how this has worked please?
i have got some bumble bees moved into my very large rabbit hutch,no rabbit in it,i did want to dismantle and sell it but i am getting more joy from watching the bees go in and out of it.i am worried about my dog tho as she tends to chase them and sometimes ends up stung and so needs an antihistamine. lol
Some White bottomed bumble bees have taken over a bird box with a camera. They are humming constantly and a few are running around on the surface but no more than three or four at most. The structure looks like strands going crisscross. The nest pulsates but I can only see the surface. Will they vacate the nest later this year so that I can inspect their work. I love them using my nest box as there are about 50 in our grounds. Any ideas on the structure and variety of bee?
I have just seen 3 bees (possibly bumble bees) enter a hole in the mortar between the bricks on the side of my house. The inside of the hole looks like it is lined with a type of fluff (?). Will they be nesting and what can I do to get rid of them?
Sandie your bees are likely to be Bombus hypnorum the tree bee.
Julie you can not get rid of them, for God's sake are you unaware of the benefit they bring to you in pollination alone.
They will be gone in late August if they do not starve sooner due to the disastrous weather we are now having, you might understand when your food bill doubles later this year due to the shortages of home grown food. Start growing vegetables now!
I have white bottomed bumble bees in the eaves/loft above my bed so it is ear plugs until September!
Christel, if your bees are Bombus hypnorum then I would expect them to be gone sooner based on observations 2 years ago and enquiries I made of an expert on B bees based on those observations. the tree bee can go through two generations in the same year which suggests your bees will have passed through their life cycle well before September. possibly the end of July
Oh thank you for the information. I googled the bombus hypnorum and it is exactly so. Using infra red they appear to have high vis jackets on. I'm particularly pleased to report that we live on the Shropshire/Welsh border so they have spread across the country. Thanks Sandie
I have a raffia bird box hanging from a tree in the garden that is now occupied by bees - I think they are bumble bees. Inside the nest I had previously put bird lint - it is still there and the bees seem to be multiplying. I like bees so this is not a problem - I was wondering if this is normal behaviour. By the way - it all started with one huge bumble bee sitting in there during May. Any information you can give would be helpful. Thanks Eileen
19.6.13. I am intrigued I have been painting a house in the middle of the west sussex countryside. Wasp nests around the soffits of the house (got stung by a wasp the other day!!!). But numerous bumblebees, I assume they are bumble bees, some with whit on their tails, and very dark and others orange. Also going under the ground floor soffits. Today on the corner of the roof, there was lots of activity, with about 10 - 15 bigger bees in a frenzy....not settling just buzzing around the entrance to presumably a nest. Then going down to the ground floor soffits and also buzzing around there, attacking other bees, there were some small dead bees on the ground. Then to my amazement a presumably queen, a very big bumble bee about 2" long was trying to get into the soffit under the ground floor but had smaller bees on her back, black in nature. She looked like a big bumble bee the others on her back were more orange. I wondered whether this could be a cuckoo bumble bee queen, trying to get into one of the nests. I have been trying to look up what this could have been, but it would be most helpful if you can give me an answer.Thank you.
Good morning. l have bubble bees in my loft, going in from the outside under the eves . please advice. Jan.
I think I have masonry bees by my back door. We live in harmony as I drink tea sat on the back step and they go into the holes in the sandstone mortar 12" from my nose. What I'd like to query (and can't find the answer to) is whether they feed their young on dead flies as that's what they seem to go out and hunt for. Can you confirm if masonry bees exhibit this behaviour?
You have had a very privileged experience. I have never seen a Pysithrus (cuckoo)queen, the size 2" seems overlong but is the length of a hornet queen. The attacking bees were Bombus hypnorum I guess. The best book I can recommend is Field Guide to the Bumblebees of GB & Eire by Edwards & Jenner ISBN 0-9549713-0-2
The alternative outcome that you saw was the anarchy that follows the natural collapse of both bumble bees and wasp colonies when the young queens leave the nest, I saw just yesterday, such an occurrence of a dying queen and some workers.
I live in a bungalow and I have a bees nest just under the roof tiles as far as I can see, should I leave them alone? is it safe? or should I get some one to remove them? I don't mind them being their they are not bothering us and we don't seem to bother the bees, please advice very grateful for any, thank you.
Thank you for this wonderful array of information. I was brought up to respect all stripey-buzzing things and not flap around them. This has left me with a fascination and love for bees and a desire to build bee houses everywhere there's an appropriate space (within reason, of course). Unfortunately, I am well aware that not everyone shares my appreciation of our cute and busy little friends so I hope you won't mind if I put a link to this page on facebook?
I think we have bumble bees nesting behind the soffits of our house.look round and fluffy with white bums. My question is how many bees could I expect to have in the nest, theres alot of activity today as its a lovely warm day and there busy busy with all the flowers in my garden?
I have bumble bees nesting behind the roof tiles, and although the roof is lined they are getting through to the loft area, my husband sometimes manages to catch them in a container and release them back outside, but sometimes we have found dead one in loft. Can this nest be removed or is it best to have it removed in September. Please can you advise us
I have a bumble bee nest at the side of my house underneath a pile of rockwool we had just stored. Around our home there are a lot of flowering bushes, we are very happy to have them nest on our property, knowing the problems bees are facing at present. I feel that they are so able to adapt very easily. I love having them buzzing around.
Recently we have noticed bees entering our neighbours wall via scaffold holes. This is not a problem and indeed interesting. However over the past 10 days we have noticed the same bees congregating at the corner of our eaves they do seem to enter through a small hole but in general the bees just seem to fly around the hole continuously. They are increasing in numbers. This does not bother us but we are interested in why they act In this unusual manner. We think the bees are bumble bees. The 2 nests do not seem to mix?
I have bees going into a hole in my flat roof by my front door. I don't want to get stung or my children. Do I have to get someone out which could be expensive. It was occupied by wasps a few years ago and I wish I had plastered up the hole after I had the pest man out. Please could you help?
Hi, I'm a lease holder in a block of flats and look forward to seeing the mortar bees flying out and returning during the summer months.. But havering council have wrapped our block of flats up as having window replacements and cavity walls filled. But the bees have no escape.. They are dying .. The drilling has probably killed the majority, but the few that are waking and flying are unable to escape the blue netting that the council have put up. Is this right ? As I know we must look after our wildlife, especially our bees... It's so sad to see them not being able to find their way home or just falling on the scaffolding planks not able to escape . The past 5 years it has been awesome to see them all flying back home at 9 pm.. And this year.. Nothing. Is there a bee protection law? Please help? Thank you .
Sharen,the nest will abandoned, you can remove or leave it as you wish. It will not be reused. Linda I am glad you appreciate the bees, some people do not. Brian I expect in both cases you are seeing the Bombus hypnorum (tree bee) which as a newcomer is gaining a large market share lately. Their colonies are shorter lived than our other species, the bees floating about are drones waiting to pounce on the emerging virgins. Helen send me pictures by email so I can id the bees you have then I can give you the correct advice. Tonie glad to be of help.
We have recently rented a house and found we have a bees nest in the roof by our young sons window. As the nest was there before we moved in, we think it should be the landlords duty of care to remove but they don't think so. There doesn't seem to be many bees with only a max. of 5 going in and out at any one time, they are too high up for me to identify but one i saw lounging on the grass looks fat and fuzzy, would this suggest the more docile bumble bee and therefore would it be best to just leave them?
I have a bee hive in ior garden which i think has bumble bees. It is in an old bird box which we uncovered whilst gardening. The problem is we have a 20 month old toddler who also likes to use the garden. We would like to get this removed if possible as although they are harmless the risk is still there. Do you know any numbers for a local bee keeper/s who can help to remove? We are in Deal, Kent.
Andy, bumble bees, best left to themselves. Yes your landlord has a duty of care despite they think otherwise.
You can not give instructions to undertake work on their property unless authorised. Were they honeybees then I would advise you contact the Council housing officer who has powers in conjunction with the EHO to issue a compliance notice.
Terry, I suggest you look at the Branches page on this website, I am sure there is a local bee keeper willing to take charge of the bees for some remuneration, your fears are irrational, but then you are a parent as am I but then I taught my children how to live with hazards and teach my grandchildren likewise as do their well rounded parents.
Hi Peter,I have white bottom bees living in a bird box close to the back door. I don't bother them and they don't bother me. However they also nested there last year, so I'm wondering what they are, as your site suggests they wouldn't nest in the same place twice?
Hi Karen, I like any naturalist can be proved wrong from time to time, this is clearly one of those occasions.
When the bumble nest is finished with then a crew of cleaners move in to demolish and clear away much of the debris.
It is possible that a mouse then moved in leaving things just for the next occupation by more bumble bees
Hi , recently we've had a nest of bees in a bird box in the end of the garden , it's been great to watch but the past couple of days they've lefted , we open the bird box to investigate there handy work but to our surprise the queen bee remains ! Will she stay here all year ? Or die in winter ? Will her friends come back ? We did box back up & put back in same place , thanks for help x
Hi there. Can you advise? I either have Bee's or Wasps flying up towards my roof and to next door's roof actually. They are flying into cracks in the brickwork or some are flying into a gap between bricks and my roof covering. Can you advise me further please? I cannot quite tell what they are from standing from the ground. What do I need to do? There is about ten to twenty of them. Thank you so much.