Harrier Pest Control
Honey Bees, Bumble Bees, Solitary Bees
Harrier Pest Control are often called out to deal with honeybees, bumblebees or solitary bees which have been mistaken for wasps.
There are three different types of bee that we are called out to deal with, honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees and it is important to distinguish which type of bee you are seeing as we try not to harm bees if it all possible and under no circumstances whatsoever will we harm solitary bees as they are stingless and can do you no harm whatsoever.
It’s important to be sure before you call us out, since we very rarely harm bees and we never harm solitary bees.
**THE TREE BUMBLEBEE. We now have a new and very aggressive bumblebee in the North West area. This bumblebee is as aggressive as wasps in the vicinity of its nest. Please visit our dedicated Tree Bumblebee page for further details.
**Bees, whether they are bumble bees, honey bees or solitary bees, are generally docile…although some are able to sting, they are unlikely to harm you.
With a worldwide concern for the welfare of bees, which are vital for plant pollination and the continuance of food growth, no professional pest controller will destroy bees without good reason.
How can you tell which is which?
Partly by the look, partly by the behaviour, partly by numbers and partly by time of year.
The bumble bee is the easiest bee to identify: fat and furry, this bee looks too big to be able to fly. You may see 10 or 20 bees going in and out of a crevice or hole. They don’t build a noticeable nest, a very insignificant affair when compared to a wasps’ nest.
Many people mistake the bumble bee for the honey bee which is much more wasp-like in appearance. The bumble bee is not the bee which makes the honey and hence is of no use to a beekeeper.
The bumble bee has a similar biology to the wasp in that only the queen survives the winter and starts nest construction in the spring. Bumble bee nests are smaller and contain far fewer individuals than a wasps’ nest. A large bumble bee nest might contain 300 individuals whereas a large wasps’ nest might contain 30,000.
Bumble bees can and do sting when they feel threatened and unlike the honey bee they do not die when they have stung and an individual bumble bee can in fact sting you repeatedly.
**Bumbles are generally docile and great for your garden, if you leave them alone they will ignore you and leave of their own accord at the end of the summer. They won’t return to the same spot next year.** See above.
Please don’t call a pest controller to destroy bumbles** See above, unless they have taken up residence somewhere truly dangerous, or you have pets which like to eat them. With the soaring cost of petrol and diesel, all our technicians will be obliged to make a call-out charge of £25 to cover the cost of coming to your home and they won’t destroy your bees unless they constitute a genuine danger.
The honey bee, as the name implies is the bee which makes the honey. The reason it makes honey is that unlike bumble bees and wasps the whole colony survives the winter and the honey is their winter food supply.
Because of this the honey bee will generally be the first bee that you will see in spring as they do not need time to make a nest.
Honey bees are frequently mistaken for wasps, however their behaviour is significantly different. If your property is visited by honey bees they will arrive in a swarm of hundreds, possibly thousands of bees.
You will often see them hanging in a bush or tree. The swarm is looking for somewhere to build a new home and may well move on after a few hours once their ‘scouts’ have located a potential home.
Harrier Pest Control are always happy to come and deal with a honey bee swarm for you; they will not be destroyed if we can avoid it, rather removed carefully and rehomed with a local beekeeper. The cost to remove a swarm is £75 as it must be immediately taken to a beekeeper and this takes a chunk out of our schedule.
If they move into a structure such as a chimney pot or an airbrick then there will probably be no option other than to destroy them however you need to call Harrier Pest Control quickly as once they have made honey, which happens very quickly, we cannot simply destroy them with insecticide as we risk killing wild bees or commercial hive bees due to their habit of ‘robbing out’ any unprotected honeycomb they find, and this could wipe out a beekeeper’s business.
While swarming, the bees are docile and won’t harm you if you leave them alone. Just keep children and any pets away until we can get to you.
If a swarm moves into part of your home and stays there, it may have to be destroyed for your safety and we will do this if we think it wise. If a swarm moves into a chimney pot then it may require scaffolding or a cherry picker.
If you suddenly start finding lots of ‘wasps’ in the house it will almost certainly be honey bees.
There are a whole group of bees which we collectively call ‘solitary bees’ which can be confusing as sometimes hundreds of them will be seen, often on walls in direct sunlight.
These include bees such as carpenter bees, sweat bees, mason bees, polyester bees, squash bees, dwarf carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, alkali bees, digger bees etc.
The reason they are called solitary bees is that they do not build a social nest like wasps, bumble bees and honey bees but rather each bee lays its eggs in an individual ‘nest’ which is in many cases simply a hole in mortar. You will frequently see them investigating airbricks and even weep-holes in plastic window frames.
Unfortunately many of these solitary bees do have a superficial resemblance to wasps and in the early spring when they emerge Harrier Pest Control field many phone calls from people who think that they have a wasps’ nest.
Solitary bees are completely harmless and do not have the ability to sting you. Therefore there is absolutely no reason to harm them for any reason whatsoever and Harrier Pest Control will not harm them under any circumstances, there is no possible reason to do so no matter where they may be. In fact, as there is no nest to destroy, it would not be possible anyway.
As a general rule any ‘wasps’ which you see before June are likely to be bees and any seen before late May will certainly be bees except in exceptional circumstances such as an early and prolonged warm period in spring. The earliest date on which Harrier Pest Control has ever come across a live wasps’ nest with workers flying is May 15th.
If Harrier Pest Control are called out to what turn out to be solitary bees we will be unable to carry out any treatment, it simply is not necessary, and there will be a £25 callout charge.
Hoovering up a bee colony