Bees are important and vital insects and are not normally classed as pests. In either case, they will only sting people if strongly provoked.
Because of their beneficial role, every effort will be made to avoid carrying out control treatments against bees. Treatment with pesticides will only be considered as a last resort if the bees pose a risk to health and safety.
There are over 200 types of Bees in the UK, including 25 types of bumblebees!
Bumblebees are quite large and aren’t easily confused with any other bee. They are rounder, larger and appear to be furry and have vivid yellow and black stripes across the width of their bodies. Bumblebees generally build their nests in grass or hedgerows and generally do not sting but may do if they are provoked. They are becoming a rare species, and are very important to food and crop production as they help pollination.
Bumblebees are social insects and live in a colony with a queen and her daughters (the workers). They have an annual lifecycle, with new nests being started each spring by queens. A bumblebee nest is only active for 6-8 weeks.
Solitary/ Masonry Bees
As the name suggests, these bees are solitary insects and you will rarely find them occurring in large numbers. Masonry bees look very much like the honey bee but are generally hairier and are slightly smaller than honey bees. Like all bees, they are important pollinators of plants, but unlike honey bees and bumble bees, they have no workers and have no shared nest.
Masonry bees generally nest in holes in brickwork. Although they are solitary, the masonry bees excavate their chambers close together giving the impression of being a colony of bees and occupying the same habitat.
Honeybees are plump little insects with hairy bodies and fat legs. They have a brown and yellow striped pattern and are much less vivid in colour compared to wasps. Honeybees feed on nectar and pollen and usually nest in holes in trees, building or on the ground. If you see a large ball of insects either flying or clustered in a hedge or tree, they are very likely to be honeybees. Like wasps, honeybees can also sting, but bees are unable to remove their stinger. When they fly away, they leave it behind and the bee eventually dies.
The most common scenario in which people become concerned over honeybee activity is when they swarm. They swarm as part of their reproductive cycle and will only stay in one place for a short time. However, if a swarm has taken up residence in a building or void, it is time critical to have the bees collected or persuaded to move on using non-pesticidal smoke. If bees have been in residence for over 48 hours, chances are they have already started to build comb and the queens egg laying will have resumed. Honeybees are the only insects in the world that produce food for humans!
If possible, the nest can be relocated. If you have a swarm of honeybees, contact a local beekeeper from the British Bee Keepers Association. In most cases, they will come and collect the swarm free of charge.
How to get rid of bees
Unfortunately bees aren’t protected and can be treated, however the are endangered so we always recommend exploring other avenues before considering eradication. Although AG Pest Management will not offer an eradication service unless the bees are posing a threat to public health.
Leave them bee
Bees don’t cause any problems to your property and you are not in danger of being stung if they are left alone and unprovoked. After the summer season, most bees will go away and not return to the nesting site the following year. Usually by the time you notice a colony, its activity will be about to decline naturally. Generally, colonies form in the spring and decline by late July if not sooner. If at all possible, leave the bee nests alone to thrive as their presence is beneficial for gardeners and their crops.
Is treatment of bees necessary?
Because of the beneficial role bees play in pollinating plants, every effort should be made to avoid carrying out treatments to control bees.
Our advice to you would be to leave them alone. Bees don’t cause any problems to your property and you are not in any danger of being stung if they are left alone and not provoked.
If a nest is outside or underground then there shouldn’t be a reason to move it. However, sometimes bees can take up residence in a less than ideal spot. You can contact a local beekeeper to relocate the nest for you. If you suspect you have honeybees, then you can contact the local Bee Keepers Association who will collect the swarm.
Risks from treating nests
If non target honey bees find a nest which has previously been treated with a pesticide, they may come into contact with the insecticide applied and may carry away contaminated honey. This can lead to the contamination of honey intended for food use and the destruction of hives.
For more information on why most pest control companies won’t treat bees, please visit the BPCA website to read their leaflet.