A Bee or Not a Bee?…… THAT is the question.
As the weather has improved lately the Pest phone has been ringing off the hook with good folk that are worried that they have a swarm of Wasps around their gutters at roof height. Upon arrival I have the pleasure of announcing to these gentle folk that they aren’t blighted by Wasps but they are infact blessed with bees. This is what I want to try and help with. I want to share a little knowledge that might help identify those buzzy things and allay your fears if I can.
Firstly, it is a common misconception that nothing can be done with bees and that they are protected. This is NOT the case. They are endangered and they are of huge importance but they are NOT protected. As such, if they are presenting a danger, necessary action can be taken. It isn’t taken lightly and it isn’t something that we like to do but sometimes a badly located bumblebee nest has to be treated.
Now then, If you have a large number of buzzing insects hanging around your gutters looking like they’re not actually doing much other than flying around aimlessly then there’s a good chance that you have bumblebees (picture 1).
Bumblebees:- Big, fluffy bees that come in a variety of colours but tend to all be the same big fluffy shape. At roof height these guys will present you no problems. They exploit gaps under roof tiles or in brickwork to access either loft space or wall cavities where they then build their nest. On a hot sunny day their movements can seem frantic or frenzied but rest assured, there is nothing wrong with them, it’s perfectly normal. These guys will not attack unless you get very close and they feel threatened. They will only sting you if it is life or death as if they sting, they die. They will not damage your house but WILL do wonders for your garden! After 6-8 weeks they will disappear of their own accord and life will return to normal. In the meantime, grab a beer or a g&t, sit in the garden and be mesmerised by their movements.
Mason bees (Image 2).
These are small solitary bees with a little red fur that tend to live in cracks in masonry or in rockeries. Their sting is not strong enough to penetrate human skin and is not barbed. These guys build a tiny nest, normally at the end of a tube that they have dug into the mortar between bricks and hatch just one or two young. Once their young have hatched, that’s it, they move on.
Honey bees (Image 3).
These guys are the honey makers. They flit from plant to plant collecting pollen, taking it back to their hive and make honey from it. If you see these guys they are normally either in a big ball (swarm) which is how they travel and beekeepers will collect these or individually foraging for pollen to take back to an established hive. If you see a swarm, stay away from it as while they are swarming these guys are on high alert. A member of the British beekeepers association will want to collect the swarm wherever possible and you can contact them by clicking this link : https://www.bbka.org.uk/help/do_you_have_a_swarm.php
If you do have honeybees in your home, they will build honeycomb and produce honey so it is in your interest to have these guys collected and rehomed by a beekeeper wherever possible.
All three of the above species are of HUGE benefit to local ecology so wherever possible we will try to persuade you to spare them.
Wasps (Image 4).
Evil with wings. Nasty, aggressive, will attack and sting you for no reason other than they are passing. The ruiners of many a picnic. These horrible beasts do have a purpose in life in that they are nature’s very own pest controllers but they are just so aggressive. Easily identified by their bright yellow markings we will happily take care of as many of these as you find. They chew wood (roof rafters, fences etc) to build their nests and they have been known to chew their way through plasterboard in order to gain access to the rest of the house. Generally unpleasant but easily treated. We treat Wasp’s nests for just £50.