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Bee’s can be easily mistaken for wasps but the colours of a wasp are iridescent yellow and black stripes where as the bee’s colours are duller. The bee’s body is more furry than the wasps and little yellow pollen sacs are usually visible on the hind limbs. There are many different kinds of bees:
Masonry / Sand Bees: These burrow into soft mortar or soil and lay a single egg at the end of each hole. They do not form large colonies. They cause relatively little damage and are unlikely to sting. They can be treated chemically – but can be left alone. Damaged mortar should be re-pointed.
Bumble Bees: These are reactively large (up to 30mm) but there can be a variety of sizes within a colony. They often nest below ground – using old mouse holes – but may use a bird box or shed – in compost bins or compost heaps etc. A nest may contain between 100 and 200 bees but there are usually about 50 - 80. They rarely sting – unless when severely provoked and are a beneficial insect. General advice should be to ‘leave them alone’.
Honeybees: These are important pollinators and should not be killed unless essential for public safety. They can form large nests within cavity walls, lofts, sheds hedges and trees etc. A colony can have up to 40,000 bees and a swarm can contain up to 20,000 bees
Honey and bumble bees cause no damage in the garden, they are vital pollinators for insect pollinated fruit and vegetables.
Wasps and bumble bees are seasonal insects insofar as when the first frost arrives the colonies die but honey bee colonies continue to live throughout the winter and if they are inhabiting your property advice and/or actions are recommended.
Once established in a property none of the above insects are likely to leave of their own volition i.e. they do not “go away”. Whilst all of these insects perform a valuable function to the overall ecology of our planet they can create a risk to the property or the house holders i.e. if they have inhabited a chimney or loft space.
Bees will not normally sting unless they perceive a severe threat to the colony. Once a bee has stung it dies.
Only Honeybees swarm. This is a natural process where a queen leaves a colony and her followers mass around her. It typically occurs during very hot weather at the beginning of summer (May-June). Swarms occur where a colony of bees produces more than one queen, the colony then splits and one of the queens leaves the hive along with her workers to find a suitable site to create a new colony.
If you have a swarm of bees on your property it is best and safest to leave them alone and seek some expert advice from a beekeeper or Pest Control or look at the following BBKA link for more information and advice http://www.bbka.org.uk/files/library/bees_in_buildings_1337961053.pdf.
If a swarm has settled for more than a couple of hours, and is in an accessible location, you can contact a beekeeper who will often come and remove the swarm for you. A list of local beekeepers can be found below or via the BBKA website at http://www.bbka.org.uk/help/do_you_have_a_swarm.php.
Beekeepers do not work for the Borough Council, and are not obliged to respond. Any arrangement you make with them is a private agreement. They may make a charge for their time and travelling expenses.
If the swarm is not easily accessible, or no beekeeper is available the Borough Council may be able to assist. The Authority is unable to ‘collect’ bees and can only use a chemical to destroy them. The council is reluctant to carry out control measures for bees on environmental grounds. We have a policy to only destroy bees in extreme circumstances and where they constitute a credible threat or danger and risk to public health. Our contact details are shown below.
Some people (about 3 in 100) are strongly allergic to bites and stings and can be very ill. Most people who have an allergic reaction have been stung before without an allergic reaction. Some people never have another allergic reaction again after their first. This is why they are almost impossible to predict.
The council has a list of local beekeepers who can provide help and advice but if you have access to the internet more information and contact details can be found at the BBKA (British Beekeepers Association) site at http://www.bbka.org.uk/help/do_you_have_a_swarm.php.
01782 620402 Home / 07879 258542 Mobile
01782 502495 Home / 07971 013787 Mobile
01782 537212 Home / 07875 296740 Mobile
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If you think that the details listed here are incorrect please contact us. If you would like to be added to this list, or would like your details removing let us know.
The Borough Council’s Pest Control Service can assist with the treatment of Bee problems.