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Hard Life

To collect a pound of honey a bee might have to fly a distance equivalent to twice round the world. This is likely to involve more than 10,000 flower visits on perhaps 500 foraging trips.
A worker honeybee in summer lives only 6 to 8 weeks from the time she hatches as an adult bee. Before that, it takes just 3 weeks for her to develop from an egg.

All facts for Swarms (Public)

Feral Honeybees and the Facts

Published 13.Sep.2008, 11:06am

What the public need to know about feral honeybees

European Honey Bee Apis mellifera sp

Feral honeybees, Facts;
European honeybees require protection from the elements, a store of food (40lbs+honey 5lbs+ pollen) to carry them through the winter period when between 6,000 and 12,000 workers together with the queen are present. They increase to 90,000 workers, a queen and some 200 drones by July.

Swarm in a Oak Tree
Swarm of honey bees

A swarm of honey bees has settled in somebodies garden tree, the owner of the tree called a beekeeper not a pest control company. Photograph by Gregory Boon © 2002

Shelter, where ever bees have lived they will always live, i.e. hive, skep, chimney flue, roof, soffit/ facia, behind tile hanging above ceilings in dormers etc. The only way to not have bees in residence is to prevent access, almost impossible or to fill the voids. Bees require 3 cubic feet of space (810 cu. Centimetres) If they have less space then the tendency to swarm is increased.

Feral Honeybees have filled the whole chimney void with comb
Chimney void full of comb

Feral Honey Bees have filled the whole chimney void with comb. Photograph by Gregory Boon © 2002

From 1994 in South East England conditions have changed, there are thousands of colonies fewer, the Environment is adversely affected, an Asiatic mite, varroa destructor is here, hundreds of bee keepers have given up. The mite sucks the hæmolymph from the bees and in doing so injects a paralysis virus causing the adult bees death, the mite breeding cycle causes loss of worker pupae and greatly increase the demise of hived and feral colonies, the remaining bees abscond to join healthy colonies infesting them.

Any colony present in a dwelling will therefore die out, often during late Winter or early Spring, all infected colonies will succumb within three years maximum. Only by continual swarming as at present will any bees survive outside the control of bee keepers.

Greg Boon on a ladder
A dangerous job without scaffolding

Removing an established honeybee colony from a chimney. Photograph by Gregory Boon © 2002

Removal of colonies from buildings is simple if done promptly when a swarm arrives, or with established colonies the best removal period is early April through to the middle of May, this is a period when the colony is expanding rapidly and honey present is minimal. (Climate change now brings this forward by two weeks in 2000 & in 2002 by five weeks)

Costs, expensive in terms of building work since wild bees live high, hollows in trees being the natural home. In walls and above ceilings the plaster is best removed and is the cheapest for reinstatement. Tile hanging in good order should not be disturbed, in poor order then complete retiling with fibre glass or rockwool inserted between the studs. Facias and soffitts require to be ventilated under current building regulations. Bees require only a quarter inch hole for access.
Chimneys, bees occupy only disused flues, they recognise used flues although the odd error can happen. In the case of flues there is no need to do anything other than smoke out an incoming swarm, after three days they will not leave. Established colonies are easily removed however the costs must include a scaffold for chimneys and similar high locations.

Poisoning is an option, however the costs are similar simply because a food substance, honey, is involved, all honey has to be removed and destroyed as it will be contaminated with pesticide which will end up in hives killing bees and in honey for human consumption. Bees are excellent thieves. Removal costs run between a £150 & £500 where scaffolding is involved. Because the bees will die and others will reoccupy my advice is to wait till bees die out and seal up entrances and any local access points. There is often honey left now upwards of 40-100lbs. This will eventually seep out as a wax moth undertaker arrives to consume the brood combs. The very strong but delicate engineering work done by the bees is quickly undone by the moth larvae, the result is pounds of honey cascading down the chimney or seeping through walls and ceilings and floors.

As with everything prevention is better than cure, the likelihood of bees taking up residence in your house is as good as you winning £5 million on the lottery jackpot unless there have been bees there before, even twenty years ago, then the odds reduce substantially. They increase where bees have previously resided.

What are the consequences of living with bees, realistically most of time you would not be bothered by them. Your home already contains many animals, plants and bacteria some of which you are aware and some you have not considered. Global warming, climate change and varroa has affected the bees and consequently how they will impinge on you. Bees resident at 2,5 metres high or less are likely to be bothersome when you are active within a three metre radius of their entrance, incidentally their entrances are always external and rarely more than one and then close to the nest. I am aware of two to three entrances as much as 2 metres apart and of one entrance two metres from the nest.

Where the nest is more than three metres high and two metres away from a window then there really is no problem in my view, the problem lies then with the attitude of the householder. The exception to this must be for the few people who are extremely allergic to bites and stings from any insects and who will suffer anaphylactic shock and will die as a result unless they receive a subcutaneous andrenlin injection to bring up their heartbeat to normal, these people now carry their own Epi-pen to self inject. The rest of you suffer reactions to stings in varying degrees but to a single or even ten stings there is normally nothing other than discomfort in the form of pain for up to five minutes and itching for perhaps two days. As a regularly stung bee keeper I suffer the pain for a few seconds or a half minute, no itching or irritation, if I receive two or three hundred stings within an hour or two then I might suffer some localised swelling. Bees do not normally sting aggressively except in defence of their immediate colony and if they do suddenly become aggressive then there is an underlying reason which often has to do with a foul smell, excessive heat, poison which affects their mobility senses or some similar disaster. Bees resident in roofs and chimney present no danger whatsoever until the builder is needed, bees dislike sweaty animals including humans and will sting them within close proximity of the nest. Beware! Bees in your garden present no danger at all, watch them visit the flowers collecting nectar, watch them clean pollen from their bodies and pack it into the pollen baskets on their hind legs, note the different colours of the pollen.

Solitary and bumble bees, most solitary bees do not sting or have an ineffective sting which will not penetrate your skin, bumble bees are far less likely to sting even than honeybees, you would have to squash them before they will sting. It is UNLAWFUL to poison any of these bees and there are 20 different bumbles and some 200 different solitaries. Any one successfully prosecuted can face up to a £25k fine in the Magistrates Court and unlimited fine in the Crown Court, in effect the level of fine imposed averages £1,6k for this offence presently.

Finding a beekeeper who is also a qualified builder is nowadays sadly very difficult.

Dependant upon the health & Varroa infestation level colonies might be starving or a strong colony could have stored anything up to 100lbs of honey. Because honeybees are classified as FOOD PRODUCING ANIMALS precautions must be taken to prevent any contaminated honey being carried away and stored in beehives for human consumption. A possible method to allow building works to progress alongside resident bees might be possible by putting up a temporary screen to cause the bees to fly up and over and away from the work site, such an obstruction needs to be in place for a week or two before it's full potential is realised. Protective clothing for the workmen is another option together with a smoker in operation. Anaesthetising the bees with CO² is another option, honeybees stand far higher levels of CO² than humans however the precautions needed to be taken have not nor will they be assessed by the writer. Chilling is a very successful method of controlling the bees and reducing those available for flying. The colony brood temperature has to be maintained at 90 Fahrenheit, bees are torpid at 40 Fahrenheit, they will cluster tight and raise the temperature by consuming food, oscillating the abdominal tergites, the resulting energy use gives off heat to raise the brood temperature, an air conditioning plant comes to mind.

Peter Hutton

Article by Peter Hutton. Photographs by Gregory Boon published with permission on
Copyright © 2002-8 by owners. All rights reserved.

Related pages: Swarm Collectors and FAQs


92 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

16.Sep.2008 7:48pm [ 1 ]

Note: There is a National swarm collectors listing if you are outside the Kent area.

Matt Holder
14.May.2009 12:00pm [ 2 ]

hello Sir, I am lucky enough to have bees living in a tree at the end of my garden, actually they're in a tree in the garden backing on to mine which is a pub garden. The tree is at the very back of the pubs property and the only entrance appears to be on the side facing away from their garden. Do you think this is a problem and that I should inform the landlord or do you think it will be o.k. for me to carry on enjoying them going about their buisness? I look forward to your reply, yours sincerely , Matt. Holder.

jayne Morrell
26.May.2009 5:05pm [ 3 ]

dear sir,we have a nest in our chimney at the top,the question i would like to ask is the bees keep falling down the chimney some appear half dead and some are still very active i have been catching them and releasing them back outside would this create a cycle ie back to the nest and then back down the chimney? why do they come down two floors when they can easily go up? i cant block the chimney off as we have a open fire,i dont want to kill them as i feel the give us so much, any sujestions please.

Sheena McDonald
3.Jun.2009 1:19am [ 4 ]

I have a colony that have taken up residence in my old shed they enter via the floor but i think the hive is about a foot off the floor - is it advisable to get it removed/collected by an experienced bee keeper? fiends have told me that it is better to have hive removed for the protection of the species due to disease if they swarm? They are the black honey bees - can you provide advice on what would be best for the bees?

Lorraine Twizell
10.Jun.2009 10:39pm [ 5 ]

Dear Sir. I have bees entering a field drain under my back lawn. I am concerned that there is a colony near by, but cannot work out where this could possibly be, unless it is in the pipe itself. The pipe is only about 3 inches in diameter and I am concerned after reading your article that they may swarm or sting if this space becomes too small. The entrance is only 6 feet away from my back door. Do you think I should be concerned? Should I have it removed?(if this is possible?) Do they nest in the ground? If they behave, they are welcome to stay. Your opinion would be appreciated. Thanks Lorraine Twizell

Pat Grimshaw
11.Jun.2009 8:08am [ 6 ]

I have bees constantly coming to an outside air vent which is situated on an outside wall in the drive but is near to the kithen I have up to now removed 7 large bees from my kitchen but can not find out where they are coming from probably under the floor boards I would guess ...please can you advise me on what action I should take as they are coming and going to this vent all day and I am really worried about this as they are so ner to the house.

robin williams
28.Jun.2009 2:29pm [ 7 ]

my next door nieghbour has installed 2 hives in her garden with bees, is this legal in a residential estate in somerset my son has an allergic reaction to bee stings ?

Peter Hutton
29.Jun.2009 6:50am [ 8 ]

Bees in a tree, this is the natural home of feral honeybees, no action is needed, the bees are not interested in the Pub's customers, wasps yes as they have a liking of beer (maltose). Take no action! Bees in the chimney, see above, natural home after trees, the pages above clarify the situation, the bees falling are most likely suffering from one or other of the killer viruses, there is no cure and the nuisance of crawling bees will continue until all have perished. By carefully sealing up all holes around a disused fireplace the problem will be solved in the short term, long a more costly remedy is needed. Email me for further advice. Bees in a shed, ask a local beekeeper to confirm what insect you have and offer suggestions for a remedy which might be to do nothing or might be to remove a colony of honeybees to a hive. A wasp nest could be dispatched after the third week in July when next year's queens have emerged and evacuated the nest. Field drain, honeybees do not live underground, especially in field drains, maybe wasps, which do live underground: Honey Bees are the only bees I know of that swarm which is their form of reproduction and now excessive as they fight to survive. Bees entering the house, these are bumble bees, I can not immediately offer you a reason or solution, if you wish to converse by email I will assist by asking pertinent questions which will indicate how to work out what is happening and how to resolve the problem. It may help to know that bumble bee colonie die out after the young queens have keft the nest which is normally in mid August but might be a whole month earlier this year in SE England.

Peter Hutton
29.Jun.2009 6:50am [ 9 ]

Bees in a tree, this is the natural home of feral honeybees, no action is needed, the bees are not interested in the Pub's customers, wasps yes as they have a liking of beer (maltose). Take no action! Bees in the chimney, see above, natural home after trees, the pages above clarify the situation, the bees falling are most likely suffering from one or other of the killer viruses, there is no cure and the nuisance of crawling bees will continue until all have perished. By carefully sealing up all holes around a disused fireplace the problem will be solved in the short term, long a more costly remedy is needed. Email me for further advice. Bees in a shed, ask a local beekeeper to confirm what insect you have and offer suggestions for a remedy which might be to do nothing or might be to remove a colony of honeybees to a hive. A wasp nest could be dispatched after the third week in July when next year's queens have emerged and evacuated the nest. Field drain, honeybees do not live underground, especially in field drains, maybe wasps, which do live underground: Honey Bees are the only bees I know of that swarm which is their form of reproduction and now excessive as they fight to survive. Bees entering the house, these are bumble bees, I can not immediately offer you a reason or solution, if you wish to converse by email I will assist by asking pertinent questions which will indicate how to work out what is happening and how to resolve the problem. It may help to know that bumble bee colonie die out after the young queens have keft the nest which is normally in mid August but might be a whole month earlier this year in SE England.

Peter Hutton
29.Jun.2009 10:29pm [ 10 ]

Robin, the short answer to your question is yes, the keeping of honey bees in one's garden is a permitted activity. Two colonies is not an unreasonable number.

It is not unreasonable that you are apprehensive either since you know that bees are reputed to sting and you mention your son has an allergy to bee stings.

Now had you not seen the hives, would you be apprehensive? In all probabitiy there were bees in your garden before your neighbour had theirs nearby, no doubt you have flowers of one sort or another which are visited by bees, have they caused consternation? I doubt you even gave them any thought. Your neighbours bees will be flying out of the hives, up and away, up to three miles away to forage for nectar and pollen, the bees in your garden will come in from elsewhere.

Here in Kent and Sussex there are simply dozens of houses where bees live happily in house alongside the human residents with out incident, see feral honeybees and the facts above!

Now to the point, your sons allergy, is it a matter of severe or minor swelling due to leaky capillaries or is it difficult for him to breathe after being bitten by a horse fly, mosquito or sting from a wasp or bee. Does he carry an Epi pen which has been prescribed by a doctor. If so why has he not been desensitised? that is a simple procedure, I know from experience.

If your son has a prescribed epi pen then might I suggest your neighbour is made aware of the fact so that screen might be erected to increase the height gain for bees overflying your garden, a simple solution, an alternative is for the beehives to be sited in the roof of the bee keepers home or garage. If they contact me as both a beekeeper and builder I would suggest how this solution might be achieved.

5.Oct.2009 10:00pm [ 11 ]

We have honey bees in our chimney, they have been there for many years but we have only lived here for a year. I find them very interesting and have had fun showing our kids them through the summer busying about their jobs, but recently they are all over the ground in the garden, alot are dead but others are just crawling around. My children are always out playing without their shoes on and have been stung a few times by stepping on them. Every time i go outside i can count at least ten on the ground, is this because its getting colder or is there another reason? We would love an open fire in the chimney they are nesting but as they have been here for so long i feel i have no right to evict them. A few months ago they swarmed to a near by street and the police closed the street until pest control dealt with them. Is there a humane way they could be moved, although i know this is unlikely becasue of their location, they are apparantly within all the walls surrounding the chimney as well as the chimney itself.

Peter Hutton
8.Oct.2009 10:45pm [ 12 ]

Oscar, there are several possibilities in your case. If you email me directly I will ask for information from which I can give a definite answer, , in the meantime I will suggest a number of reasons for the symptoms you describe. Firstly the Varroa mite spreads viruses which paralyse the adult bees, deformities such as deformed wing virus leave bees unable to fly, paralysis viruses cause death within five to ten days, starvation is another problem and so on. External poisoning can occur as well and is more common than realised. It is a very sad situation.

Mandy Bowerman
11.May.2010 3:39pm [ 13 ]

Re Solitary bees and bumble bees . . You state "It is UNLAWFUL to poison any of these bees and there are 20 different bumbles and some 200 different solitaries. Any one successfully prosecuted can face up to a £25k fine in the Magistrates Court and unlimited fine in the Crown Court, in effect the level of fine imposed averages £1,6k for this offence presently." Following an issue raised with me I did some research on this issue and can find no law outlawing the poisoning of bees. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act they are not a protected species. Would you point me in the direction of the law that applies to your statement? Thanks.

Peter Hutton
15.May.2010 6:46am [ 14 ]

It is unlawful to use a poison not registered for purpose, therefore it is unlawful to poison species not listed in the registration documentation. Also a number of the bees mentioned are on the red list, that is an endangered species. Because of some anomalies that is a matter currently under review by the Registration authority H S & E in the case of non agricultural pesticides. Honey bees are an exception notwithstanding they are now in law "a food producing animal, any chemical including pesticide which you might apply to them must now have a "Maximum residue Level" set in the registration of the product. The MRL must show the maximum amount of residual pesticide allowed in honey, Furthermore honeybees communicate where a source of nectar, pollen, water, propolis, and honey may be found. The fact is that to clarify the situation, all bees should be protected in the same way as bats and badgers, that would simplify the situation. Losses of honeybees after this winter are at between 0% in 10% of colonies to 100% in 20% of colonies, over the Country I surmise the average to be around 40%. MOst of the 200 solitary types do not have stings, those that do are ineffective against humans in any case.

Valerie T
26.May.2010 8:20pm [ 15 ]

I am amazed by some of the comments you receive concerning these amazingly industrious creatures. For some years now I have been planting to attract bees to my garden with little significant success other than an occasional one or two. So imagine my delight to discover I now have them nesting in a bird box - joy oh joy. Does this mean that they will make an annual return - I sincerely hope so? I have no idea what breed they are other than they are not your typical bumble bee.

5.Jun.2010 7:46am [ 16 ]

I have bees entering my house by an airbrick. I was sitting on my patio and noticed them coming and going through this airbrick. If i put my ear to my sitting room floor I can hear them buzzing about under the floor boards near this entrance. I think they've been there for a few years. I am concerned that they might do damage to house by blocking up airbrick with their home. I have laminate floors in my house and dont really want to lift these up to get rid of them, only unless you think they could do damage to my house. is it ok to leave them or should i get pest control in?

Peter Hutton
7.Jun.2010 7:24am [ 17 ]

Leave them alone, neither block up the airflow or cauise any damage, get a local beekeeper to identify them or send me a digital photo by email. (

Mandy Bowerman
7.Jun.2010 9:17am [ 18 ]

Hi, Thank you for pointing me in the direction of the Red List (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species). I did a search of their database and there appear to be no bees on their list for the UK. Given the recent press coverage on bees being threatened I find it surprising that they are neither a protected species nor regarded as a threatened species by the IUCN. My bee keeping colleague believes that this may be because bee stocks in the UK are relatively high due to amateur bee keeping and that without them (the bee keepers) crop pollination in the UK would become an issue. Would you concur with this view? Incidentally, re pesticides, I understand from a pest controller that 'Ficam D' is licensed in the UK for killing bees - apparently it uses something call 'bendiocarb' which is also used in some B&Q own brand insecticides. He did say though that any responsible pest controller would first consult with a beekeeper to give their client the option of saving the bees before destroying them - so there's some hope there I guess.

8.Jun.2010 10:01am [ 19 ]

I have a bees nest in the roof cavity of my porch. The only access to the nest is via a very small hole on the outside. Will the bees or nest cause any damage to the wood or roof over time? The loft space is presumeably quite small so will they leave to look for a larger space to build a new nest?

Peter Hutton
15.Jun.2010 7:40am [ 20 ]

Mandy, I commend you on searching the red list, I have viewed it in the past, there are two Osmia listed and several others. It may be difficult to find, I have found that myself. Ficam D is registered to kill bees, but it does not have a Maximum Residue Level set for honey, food, Honeybees are Food Producing Animals, therefore anything product used to "treat" them has to have such an MRL or it is unlawful.

HS&E are currently asking product holdersd to reregister their products to amend the description from bees to honeybees, I am hoping that will have to set an MRL as well since this is the commonest poison to be found in UK honey.

Peter Hutton
15.Jun.2010 7:42am [ 21 ]

Lee, what sort of bee is in the space, send me a digital picture by email to so I can identify the problem and give you the correct advice.

Emma Banner
28.Jun.2010 5:01pm [ 22 ]

Hi Peter. I have honey bees that are nesting in the eaves of my house. My husband has checked the loft space and we can hear them, but they dont appear to be entering the house (at the moment anyway!). We dont mind having them here but are very concerned about whether they will cause any damage to our home. We have a 300 year old stone cottage with thick stone walls and any damage could be very costly. Just need your advice please. I would prefer to leave them alone, but if they are going to cause damage, will seek to get an expert to relocate them. I await your reply. Thanks. Emma

Peggy Tudor
30.Jun.2010 5:31pm [ 23 ]

Dear Sir, Bumble bees seem to be making a nest under our back door. As it is our main door, and it is very hot at the moment, we like to keep it open. However the bees seem very cross that we are around and are always hanging about the door. It leads straight into the kitchen- and the dog keeps trying to catch the bees. Will a bee sting hurt a dog?

daphne males
2.Jul.2010 9:47am [ 24 ]

I spoke briefly to you on the phone last week. Bees have nested in our very tall chimney, which was not a problem until last week when the hot weather melted the wax and hundreds of bees came into the house two floors below. They have made a dirty sticky mess of the carpet, wallpaper and window panes and I haven't got rid of them yet!. This is the second time in 12 years! (different but adjoining flues).

I am going to try to smoke them out as you suggested, but then will block the chimney with mesh, using a cherry picker. I would ideally like to do this before Christmas, as I am going to book a chery picker to install a wood burning stove anyway. When will the bees be dead?

Peter Hutton
10.Jul.2010 10:18pm [ 25 ]

Mrs. Tudor you are looking at the wrong page go to the Bumble bees, wasps & solitary bee pages. Email me direct for info. Mrs. Male also email mail me direct. Your bees will not die out before the Winter. contact me so that the bees can be removed when you have the cherry picker.

Brenda Legg
12.Jul.2010 5:07pm [ 26 ]

in my garden about 12 feet from the back door we have a group of small terracotter pots about 12 " x 9". Because of the size I was amazed to see that we have a bees nest in one of them which holds some companula flowers, but there is to me, a puzzle, these bees are carrying leaves underneath them, which makes me think they are not the usual honey bees.Can you tell me what you know about this sort of species? I was brought up in the country and am familiar with hives and have never seen leaf carrying ones before. Thankyou Brenda Legg

Terry Lomax
18.Jul.2010 12:53pm [ 27 ]

I have white tailed bumblebees under the bedroom of our bungalow that have entered through an airbrick. I don't want to kill them. Will they move on, or die out if I leave them alone. I will place a fine wire mesh over the opening once I know they are no longer there. Thanks. Terry

Peter Hutton
20.Jul.2010 10:00pm [ 28 ]

They are stingless leaf cutter bees, solitary bees, not at all like honeybees except they also collect nectar & pollen provison their offspring.

Peter Hutton
23.Jul.2010 7:19am [ 29 ]

They are true leaf cutter bees of the Megachile family

Amanda O'Keefe
9.Aug.2010 8:30pm [ 30 ]

Hello Peter, We have just discovered what we think are "bees" going in and out of our Fascia. We have a bungalow. We have two children aslo so my concern is their safety. They only seem to have appeared in the last two weeks. It is now 09th Aug 2010. So I am guessing they will soon depart from what I have been reading. Can you advise if they are safe, if they will do damage. Also, Can you advise if they are living in a hive in the Fascia? If so, do they plan to return to us year after year. Thank you most sincerely. Regards Amanda

Jackie Wattle
12.Aug.2010 10:54am [ 31 ]

Dear sir, whilst attempting to empty my mother-in-laws compost heap I discovered that bees seemed to have made a home of the bin.When I removed the plastic bunker type pod there was an increasingly loud buzzing and several bees appeared out of the holes in the mound.I rapidly replaced the pod but I am now concerned as to what to do next . Will they die in winter or should I find someone to remove them. I don't want them to come to harm. The Garden is small and the spot where the bin is is near door to the shed and house, overgrown recently as my mother-in-law is in hospital.

Helen Gooding
17.Aug.2010 11:12am [ 32 ]

Dear Peter, I work at a business centre and one of our tenants are complaining of bees nesting in an air brick close to their office. They have been there since June and our local Pest Control company have confirmed that they are honey bees. He is loathed to get rid of the nest due to his legal obligations and the importance of honey bees. Please will you advise what our options are and what, in your opinion, is the best thing for us to do.

Ali Olkun
19.Aug.2010 1:43am [ 33 ]

Dear sir, i have a bee hive forming in my roof. the entrance is just above the window (exterior side) in the bathroom. Im worried that the colony will grow and recently saw some bees inside the house. I have 2 kids and don't want them to be harmed nor do i want to kill the bees. Catch 22. any help or tips to safely move the bees

Marianne Wilson
29.Sep.2010 3:00pm [ 34 ]

Dear Peter, we have wild bees nesting in the chimney of our house here in Spain. In the summer there was a lot of activity around the chimney every day. Now, there are days when we rarely see a bee, but some days there are hundreds flying around the top of the chimney. In a few weeks time we will need to light the fire. We don't really want to kill the bees. Will the heat of the fire drive them out? If so, when would be the best time to do it? Now, or later when it's cooler?The chimney sits on the outside of the house and we can break in to it. What shall we do with the nest?

Catherine Watson
11.Jan.2011 7:38pm [ 35 ]

Dear Peter, We have a feral colony of bees in the wall of our church, accessed by a small hole near the roof. I understand the colony has been there for many years. Repair work is needed on the roof and we have been asked to ensure that the workers will not be in any danger from the bees whilst using power tools etc. above the opening in the wall. It would be very difficult to remove the colony and we do not want to use poison. What can we do, please?

Mel Liow
10.Apr.2011 8:57pm [ 36 ]

Dear Sir, We have a bees nest in our chimney and each day last spring/summer we'd come home to 4-5 bees in the house. Most of them would be half dead whilst others were quite active but we'd put all of them outside. By the summer they stopped coming down the chimney but this week have started coming down again. They appear to be swamming mid way around the chimney and we can see them entering between the bricks outside. The fire place is no longer in use and we were hoping to have it sealed as during winter we still have dust coming down. Can you advise us whether to have the nest removed, or whether it would be ok to seal our chimney so the bees can remain put - or will this cause structural damage to the chimney? Also is there anything we can do in the interim to prevent/deter the bees from coming down the chimney. I read somewhere that they are attracted to the lights in the house thus fly down the chimney and it was advised to scrunch up newspaper and put it up the chimney to block out the light. Please could you advise. Many thanks

18.Apr.2011 7:11pm [ 37 ]

Hi i dont know if you can help me. I keep finding half dead bees in my flat. They are roughly in the same corner of the room all the time, it has only been over the past week. First it was one bee and a wasp in the same day, then another one bee and today i have found two bees. They are black in body with a small peice of yellow at the bottom and what looks like a small sting. I am absolutely petrified of both bees and wasps. Firstly what type of bees are they and secondly what can i do to prevent them coming into the flat as i dont know where they are coming from?? Please help. Thanks, Steph

Peter Hutton
22.Apr.2011 7:56am [ 38 ]

Stephanie, firstly calm yourself, these insects are not so bad as you think. Send me a digital foto by email. I often do not read these messages until a long time after they are written so please everyone if you really want me to answer your query, SEND ME AN EMAIL + FOTO

22.Apr.2011 6:06pm [ 39 ]

We had been troubled by what we thought was a wasps nest just above the back door entrance to the house for the last 2 years. It has resulted in regular stings as they enter into the back lobby when the door is open and get into the closed light shade. This year when they re-appeared we got on to the council to have it removed, we discovered it is feral bees not wasps - though there were also wasps (Queen) in the vicinity - and the Rentokill expert could not treat them. We would like to get them removed humanely before they rebuild again for the summer - can you suggest anyone local to Tonbridge. Thanks in advance.

Peter Hutton
4.May.2011 8:11am [ 40 ]

I am in Tonbridge, ring my mobile 07941 375589, I am deaf so do not always hear it ring and will not always return calls immediately.

Preferably email me

7.May.2011 6:55pm [ 41 ]

Hi I have just noticed lots of bees flying about outside my bedroom window. They appear to be looking to nest in my roof tiles. It is very near my window which means I don't want to open it! I think they are honeybees. What should I do? Thanks I live in ton bridge too.

Peter Hutton
7.May.2011 9:51pm [ 42 ]

I also am in Tonbridge, I can provide a bait hive for the bees to live in, ring me on my mobile 07941 375589.

8.May.2011 10:13am [ 43 ]

Hi Peter my partner thinks they are wasps! Thanks for your reply but we don't need the bait hive. Regards, hannah.

24.May.2011 1:37pm [ 44 ]

Hi Peter, We have just discovered Bees in our loft space, They are making a lot of noise throughout the night, and are disturbing the sleep of myself, my husband and my young daughter. How do I go about getting these removed? (I do have a sibling who is allergic and has to carry an Epi-pen, so consequently am concerned that the allergy may be present in my children) I am based in Gillingham. Many Thanks

Maurice Yeoman
24.May.2011 10:22pm [ 45 ]

Hi Peter. In Hildenborough. I believe that we have honey bees in the roof space too. Lots of coming and going from a few roof tiles during the day and into the evening. We are just about to move into the property after months of flood-damage repairs. If the nest is in the location of an old nest (that was found by the builders in february) then it would be very close to a window. I will try to email a picture of the old nest that was removed to give you an idea of size - far bigger than a football. I think that I would like them removed, in spite of suggestions that we could leave them, and would appreciate your advice. Many thanks, M Yeoman

Peter Hutton
26.May.2011 9:04pm [ 46 ]

Rebecca, you describe wasps rather than bees, wasps collect rotten wood and chew it up during the night adding saliva they then extrude the paper mache into the nest which is quite a lot of noise.

3.Jul.2011 8:29am [ 47 ]

Yesterday a very large swarm of bees has moved into my disused chimney. I am not against them as such but am concerned about when the colony collapses and the effects of the honey and influx of other bugs etc when it does. Both fireplaces are fully blocked with no apparent air vents so gaining access to the base is an issue. I have tried pouring a cup of jeyes fluid down the chimney (twice) and whilst they got a bit angry and part of the pack swarmed on the outside of the chimney as soon as the smell reduced they returned inside. I don't want to kill them but the local bee collector co-ordinator doesn't sound optimistic of finding a collector who will help due 2 the mess and difficulty and is almost recomemding letting them stay. I know they build very fast so any guidance is much appreciated. Also i'm due 2 have a roofer work on the chimney and roof in a few weeks!

Peter Hutton
8.Jul.2011 4:55am [ 48 ]

Well Richard, you would have done well had you used the link at the top of this page to email me directly on the 3rd of July, the bees could have easily been removed then, they can be removed now but the costs will have risen slightly.

If you are watching for a reply then email me directly.

Jim Taylor
21.Aug.2011 5:32pm [ 49 ]

Hi Peter we seem to have honey bees living underground in our front garden they arrived last year and swarmed on a tree nearby then landed in the garden and went underground I thought they would die but they are now very active,is this normal?

Sue Watson
18.Sep.2011 9:58am [ 50 ]

Hello Peter, Some 7 or 8 years ago what I believe to be feral bees moved into our house behind the sofit above the front door, accessing through a hole left when the overflow pipe from cold water tank was re-positioned. We have lived happily with them ever since as a local beekeeper assured us that they were bees and would probably die out with a cold winter - but they have survived the last two severe winters! There are considerable numbers, sometimes on sunny afternoons it looks like a small swarm as they gather to return through their access hole. This year they do not look very healthy and there are lots of apparently dying (and dead bees) on the ground outside our front door and we sometimes find a few indoors. Our problem is that callers are beginning to complain, on the assumption they are wasps; if they complain to me then I explain they are bees but we are starting to find notes through the door mentioning the dreaded Health and Safety. Is there anything I should be doing or just carry on living with them? Any idea if I would need to declare the bees presence if I were to put this house up for sale? I live in the rural Canterbury area.

Peter Hutton
15.Apr.2012 10:15pm [ 51 ]

If you have a query about bees, wasps etc. email me direct at also where possible 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!!!

28.May.2012 10:36pm [ 52 ]

Hi i had seen a few bumble bees early may in my lounge and since then saw the odd few and on saturday came back to bees brown with black stripes crawling up the window etc. I have kids can i leave them until they leave or will more come out? Will they come back next year?

Alison Goring
4.Jun.2012 12:39pm [ 53 ]

I was informed by my neighbour this morning that she had seen bees going into my roof through a small gap between the brick work on the side of my house. They saw a few yesterday but now quite a few. I am concerned about the damage they may be doing and how to get rid of them. I have been quoted £150 for removal. Please help

Alan armstrong
18.Jun.2012 10:57pm [ 54 ]

Hi. For the past couple of weeks i have noticed numerous bees entering the air vent just below my front room window. Its now at the point when every time i'm in the front garden there is always some kind of activity. Now the kids have spotted in they are fascinated, but I've told them not to interfere with it. However, just today i was sitting in the front room next to wall where the air vent is situated i could actually here the buzzing. Presumably this is only going to get worse. Can you offer me advice on what i can do? My local council will not touch them as there is no health and safety risk. Thanks Alan

22.Jun.2012 7:58pm [ 55 ]

Hi please could you tell me the legal requirements that bee hives have to be kept away from any equestrian yard. Just that i have had 3 horses stung this month, one having a severe reaction to the sting resulting in enormous swelling to throat, neck and top of shoulder. these bees are kept in a wood behind my stables/sand school. I had no acknowledgment of any bees were going to be kept behind me. I will know in the next 24 hours if the horse will be OK after been stung. Thank you for your help.

Peter Hutton
26.Jun.2012 5:54pm [ 56 ]

Stephanie Atkinson, I have not seen an email from you, today is the 26th June

Please contact me directly by email and I will advise you. My wife's horses grazed right up to my hives without incident as did my sister in laws horses when they were kept on my fields.

Last year four horses were adversely affected by honeybee stings, one might have died from anaphylactic shock, one drowned and two were put down, that was reported in Horse and Hound, I do not know the exact facts and doubt the accuracy of the report, the horse owner was also the owner of the bees.

Until last year I have not found any evidence of horses dying as a result of bee stings in England, there have been many reported cases in the USA and one in Ireland I believe.

Have you requested a Veterinary report on the horse/horses also you should request an allergy test as soon as is practicable.

If you have a query about bees, wasps etc. email me direct at also where possible 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!!!

Peter Hutton

Kim Winfield
6.Aug.2012 8:58am [ 57 ]

We have bees entering a concrete base under a shed/decking area. There is no access to be able to remove them and sealing them in with concrete doesn't appeal to us! any suggestions.

jane thomas
12.Sep.2012 11:43am [ 58 ]

Could Peter Hutton contact me as I have bees in my unused chimney and need advice - thanks

Teresa Hunt
29.Oct.2012 2:34pm [ 59 ]

We have a holiday home in France, where our neighbour used to keep bees. He has since retired and we find that for the last 4 years a colony of bees has set up home in our chimney. We don't use it and my husband has sealed up the bottom to stop the bees coming into the living room. No one wants to try to remove the bees, are we best just to let them go and will they eventually go away on their own. My main concern is anything which might drop down into the bottom of the chimney and seep into the house while we are away.

Stuart Nagle
13.Jul.2013 11:27am [ 60 ]

Sir... My neighbour has a tree in his garden, at which bee's seem to gather each evening, from about 8.15pm through to as its getting dark and appear to be settling in groups on the leafy braches as opposed to getting together in a swarm... I have been sitting out in the garden a lot in the recent warm weather and find this fascinating... and unusual, it's almost as if they 'roost' here in tree each night. Is this behaviour unusual and what kind of bee's do you think they are. I have observed their flying and they are definitely bee's of some type. I would be grateful for your wisdom and look forward to a response to my email address please.

Note from Admin: The is a comments page, other visitors will not be able to reply directly.

Peter Hutton
16.Jul.2013 10:47pm [ 61 ]

Stuart, your enquiry is fascinating, however without seeing a foto I have no idea but can hazard a guess from memory.

Honeybees consult their form of estate agents when seeking a new home for a swarm, prior to the swarm arriving a few bees squat overnight for a few days to warn off other bees. Maybe your tree has a suitable hollow and these bees will eventually move in too. Your email address did not appear so I can not reply directly.

2.Aug.2013 11:36pm [ 62 ]

Dear sir , i need advice, for the past couple of months i have had what looks like wild bees going in and out of an airbrick in exterior wall, this has not really worried me however i am concerned that they may cause damage in the wall cavity.. i am puzzled because i noticed the past two weeks that all activity has stopped and there are no bees coming and going, could you please advise on what has happened..have the bees died?

Peter Hutton
5.Aug.2013 8:52pm [ 63 ]

Jean I suspect you had Bumble bees whose life cycle has finished. look at the information on the adjacent page to this the answers are there.

6.Jan.2014 8:23pm [ 64 ]

Hi. I have got some honey bees in a disused flue at my house which has 2 air bricks one at the bottom and one at the top for air flow. They use the top brick and have been in and out all summer. Just recently I've seen a lot of dead bees on the floor but I went to have a look in the air brick and there was still a lot of activity inside the flue. Should I just leave them alone or get someone to get rid of them or may they just go by themselves as I don't want to kill them.

Peter Hutton
20.Mar.2014 9:11pm [ 65 ]

Anyone requiring advice on honeybees should email me direct either using the automatic link at the top of this page or type in and send to me. I will reply just as fast as I can. That may be the same day or the next,

Dionne Evans
28.Apr.2014 10:57pm [ 66 ]

Hi Peter. Yesterday and again today I noticed a large bumble bee crawling into the gap between a plastic air vent and the soffit near my gutters. Reading your comments now is the time of year they start building their nests. Can I expext a massive invasion? Am I best to get someone in now to relocate them before they get too comfortable? I have no concerns with bees but my 5 year old daughter may not be impressed if she has to do run the gauntlet past a huge nest to get to our garden. Any advice much appreciated. Thanks

6.May.2014 5:05pm [ 67 ]

Hi, I have small bumblebees, with what looks like a white/greyish bottom, going into the loft of my bungalow. The problem is they are above my bedroom and they are very very noisy at night. Is this usual, I thought they would be silent during the night. I hear buzzing and other noises. I don't want to kill them, but I do need my sleep ! Any suggestions would be most welcome. Many thanks.

Greg Smith
7.May.2014 10:14am [ 68 ]

Hi Peter We recently moved into a Georgian house and have discovered that there is an established honey bee colony in a chimney stack attached to the living room fireplace. The fire was regularly lit throughout winter - you can now see lots of bees around the top of the fairly high stack and the occasional dying bee in the living room. I don't want to harm the bees, but I would rather that they "moved on". Can you suggest a solution? Perhaps now that they are active I should light a fire and smoke them out? Alternatively I would happily pay for the right person to come along a remove them if you can suggest someone. We live near Rye, East Sussex. Thanks

Peter Hutton
9.May.2014 7:25am [ 69 ]

The bees will be in an unused flue adjacent to the unoccupied flue down which they fall. I thought this is covered in the above information. Email me direct and send some fotos, I will advise you of any bee keepers I know in the area. You need to put smoke up all the flues using a bee keepers smoker to ID the occupied flue. If people do not email me they can not expect me to answer their questions

16.May.2014 8:49pm [ 70 ]

Hi, I have bees in my loft for the second year running and they do not bother me at all in fact I quite like the thought of them in residence. I have a large wild flower garden so cant complain if they like to live here. ! I did contact a bee keeper last year just out of interest and he told me to keep eye out for swarming but this didn't happen. I think bees are so marvellous and apart from hearing buzzing if its quiet at night we hardly know they are there. One thing that does interest me is what happens to all the honey do they feed the queen on this ? so none is left at end of summer.

Peter Hutton
18.May.2014 6:21am [ 71 ]

Miranda I can only reiterate HONEY is the bee's food for the WINTER period when there are no flowers to feed the bees with pollen (protein) and nectar (carbohydrate) to convert to honey. Protein is for cell building and carbohydrate is for energy (motive power).

ANY ONE REQUIRING AN ANSWER FROM ME MUST USE SEND AN EMAIL AND FOTO, you can use the email link on this page (Top) or


18.May.2014 9:37am [ 72 ]

Hello, yesterday for the first time we notice what we assume to be honey bees entering our roof via the tiles or eaves. They are above the bedroom just over 6 ft away from the bedroom window. I am worried because I have a dog who likes to lie in the sun in the back garden beneath this part and although I love them they tend to fly really low near our back door. The part of the roof they are in is inaccessible via the loft, will they do any damage and should I get them removed? I would not want to kill them. We live near Tonbridge in Kent. Many thanks.

Jane Smith
18.May.2014 11:58am [ 73 ]

We have bees in a bird box on the front wall of our house, south facing, about 6 feet along from the window and next to a climbing rose. We need access to the rose to tie it up and to cut the roses.

As the box is so small ( I read they need 3 cubic feet) are they likely to swarm soon?

Should we do anything, or just leave alone?

Bill gray
4.Jun.2014 1:39pm [ 74 ]

Is it possible to use the honey that feral bees produce

julie beevis
28.Jun.2014 9:04pm [ 75 ]

Hi .I have recently[LAST 7 DAYS]heard funny noises at the bottom of my disused chimney flue .There is a small vent,when it is open there is a buzzy /fluttery noise.When i shut it it seems not to happen so much. I have had a lot of bees in my garden as I have bright flowering tropical plants and i have even taken close up photos of them laiden down with pollen[will try and attach a photo].I regulally get wasp nests.aLSO I remeber seeing a bee go in and out of an old screw hole. Your help and advice would be appreciafed.Julie

Liane Thomas
7.Jul.2014 10:15am [ 76 ]

Hi Peter, I have tried using the link but it wont send sorry.

We have been in our house in rural north Devon for the past year. This summer, so recently, we were finding a few dead bees in our son's bedroom on the window sill. We assumed they were coming in through the window. I don't believe this any more. About three week ago a massive swarm descended on our chimney (having never seen/heard such a sight it was very impressive) . We rang a few people for advice, and as stated by at least one of them the swarm slit and now the only evidence is a few bees flying around the opening. At least I hope it split! It is as you have stated it is an unused flue that leads to a blocked fire place into my children's room. They are aged 2 and 4. Since then we are finding dead bees on a daily or twice basis they are generally in a confined area of about 12" square. However, they are not always dead and in the case of this morning after checking in the general area my littlest was stung on the foot. I have no idea where they are coming in from, but there are big gaps in the floor boards and I did read in one post that someone suggested that they not only had bees in the chimney but in the walls as well.

I would greatly appreciate some long term advice and maybe some short term ideas. My only real objection is having them enter the kids bedroom. But is there more we need to consider. We were going to carpet that room. Do you think this will help? My other concern is that our aga flue is in the same chimney will the heat from this (when we light it later in the year) harm the bees?

Anything you have to offer will be a bonus, thank you for your time


Geeta Vyas
14.Apr.2015 12:10pm [ 77 ]

We have had bees/wasps ( not sure which one) nesting in our chimney for approx 3 years. Every Mar/April we start getting 4 to 6 dropping down the chimney trying to move towards the window. Now I can hear a clear buzzing noise in the chimney too. Not sure how we can rid of these? Please advise. Thanks Geeta

Debi Bareham
11.May.2016 6:50pm [ 78 ]

Hi, we have had quite a few bees entering into the side of a wooden door, although it is quite unnerving for me to walk past them I do not want to kill them. My question is….they seem to have blocked off the 3 entrances they were using, bees have been returning to the nest and are not able to get in. I wondered why they are doing this. Thank you for reading

Diane mackenzie
29.May.2016 3:53pm [ 79 ]

I have just found bees in my compost, my problem is we wish to dig it out and rotate it. As I like bees in the garden Im at a quandry as to what to do. Leave them or remove. Would they leave on their own after a year or stay.

S Fathers
6.Jun.2016 10:09am [ 80 ]

We have bees up under some roof tiles, which we've been happy to leave. However this morning there were hundreds dead on the floor below. Why would this have happened? should the rest of the bees be ok? Should we taken any action? Many thanks.

peter hutton
10.Jun.2016 9:33pm [ 81 ]

S Fathers, send 300 to the National Bee unit at Sand Hutton, York for analysis Dianne dif the compost away from around the nest, slide the nest into a box leave until dark then close the box move the nest away 2 or 3 kilometres and leave in a sheltered dry palce out of reach of badgers. Debi they are solitary bees, they need a proper nest site consisting of several size holes. you can buy one at your garden centre. They will only be there for a few days and do not sting.

Arlene Kersley
11.Jun.2016 2:44pm [ 82 ]

We live in an old elm clad house that is single skin, i.e. no cavity. We are also in the middle of the woods. I have had swarms of honey bees in the past in the cladding and loft and have lived with it. This year they are in the void above a dormer window in our bedroom and are incredibly noisy. What can we do? I am also worried about the honey attracting other vermin and mold.

Brendan Martin
11.Jun.2016 6:21pm [ 83 ]

10 days ago a swarm of honeybees set up home under my conservatory (entering through air bricks). Main problem is for most of the day there are at least a couple of hundred bees hovering around the entry air brick. Can I do anything, if not what's the likely outcome, will they die or leave?

27.Jun.2016 1:04pm [ 84 ]

Hi, Our chimney sweep told us last summer that there was a bee nest in our neighbour's chimney (terraced house). We found the odd honey bee in one bedroom with disused fireplace, and liberated it. This summer there are bees emerging from the disused fireplace all the time: up to 100 a day I'd estimate. I use this room to work in and it's disruptive to keep catching the bees and putting them out the window. We're getting builders in soon to convert attic and don't want hold-ups, or to harm the bees. How can we get them to go and live elsewhere? Thanks.

Trevor Cook
28.Jun.2016 12:40pm [ 85 ]

We have a swam of bees is a tree just behind my shop. They arrived yesterday and are still hanging in the tree. Is there anybody that would like to collect them?

Peter Hutton
14.Jul.2016 6:08am [ 86 ]

I do not have time to monitor the questions you write here! If you have not read and understood my comprehensive article, then send an email to include photographs of the insects and their location.

Mike Bispham
18.Mar.2017 11:23am [ 87 ]

If I may update the points made here; there are now a good many feral colonies in some places, which are not merely surviving but thriving. Away from the beekeepers, nature has been quietly performing its magic, resulting in good levels of resistance to varroa. The best thing to do with a wild bee colony is leave it alone. Natural selection will, if beekeepers will only let it, fix the problem of varroa. And wild bees are needed - they've always been a part of our natural ecology, and with other pollinators so badly depressed, are vital to the task of maintaining wildflower and tree seed levels. Without renewing the seedbank, the ecology will steadily collapse. Please visit my website for more information about feral bees and the local ecology, and traditional methods of beekeeping husbandry, designed to aid, rather than hinder, the rise of varroa resistance.

Simon Wilks
18.Mar.2017 6:57pm [ 88 ]

I would, in the interests of balance, point to this study that strongly suggests feral colonies, at least in the UK, are doing no better than untreated, managed colonies and are probably all escapees from managed colonies in the first place.

Peter Hutton
22.May.2017 7:45am [ 89 ]

Dear Mike Bispham, I would like to read your website reference were you to publish it? Dear Simon Wilks, I was interested to read the references you referred to, having kept bees for over 57 years I was aware of many of the author's (some now dead) papers. I uphold some of what you say as correct but there are aspects where you are wrong, viz the conditions under which some feral colonies survive under varroa infestations yet their outgoing swarms do not!

ann stark
26.Jun.2017 12:04pm [ 90 ]

I have enjoyed a large amount of bees coming and going into the workshop roof - they've now all disappeared What could have caused this - any ideas Ann

Peter Hutton
28.Jun.2017 7:46am [ 91 ]

Possibly a swarm of honeybees sent your address by their honeybee estate agency as a possible new home. They voted to go elsewhere!

Chrissie Duguid
22.May.2018 4:02pm [ 92 ]

Hi...Quick question .for the last 4 years I have had a colony of what I think are honey bees in my shed roof...I am not one bit bothered by this, in fact I like it..The question is, do they return each year or are they there all the time Thank you

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