Bumble bees are the most common type of bee that you are likely to get around your property. There are many varieties of bumble bees that are found in this country, the three above being some of the more common ones. The more common bumble bees are covered in hair and they have quite wide bands of colour compared to honey bees or wasps. They are also quite a bit fatter as well. Bumble bee nests can often be found in the roof eaves, in log piles, bird boxes or under decking. Typically, there can be anywhere between 50 to 300 bees in the nest. There can be a lot of activity outside the nests when a good number of the male bees fly around waiting for a new queen to emerge. The male bees cannot sting and they are certainly not interested in you. The best thing to do is just leave them alone and let them get on with their business. After about 4 or 5 weeks, the bees will fly off somewhere else and at the end of the season the queen will leave the nest to find somewhere to hibernate. This is the time to get in and block up the entrance hole so the nesting site can't be used the following year. Bumble bees are great pollinators and we would urge you to do everything you can not to disturb them, as moving the nest is not easily done without destroying the colony.
Honey bees are quite a lot slimmer than bumble bees and the stripes are quite narrow and muted in comparison. Whilst honey bees do have hair on their thorax, the abdomen is quite smooth. Note the honey bee's legs are black which clearly sets them apart from the yellow legs of the wasp.
Honey bees swarm in large numbers (10,000+) and will usually be found hanging from the branch of a tree, in a hedge or sometimes will settle on cars or in other unusual places. Whilst these swarms generally attract a lot of attention, they rarely present a problem and in most cases will move on in a small number of hours ( a couple of days max.). Swarms have a low chance of survival in the wild and that is why we beekeepers are prepared to come and collect them and give them a new home. If you are convinced you have a swarm of honey bees then please call our SWARM OFFICER who will contact a local beekeeper to come and collect them.
Please make sure that you dont disturb the swarm, and whatever you do please DO NOT spray the bees with water. This will make them impossible to collect and you could have bees crawling around your lawn for days. It is possible that the swarm will choose to move on before they can be collected. When this happens all of the bees will take flight. If this happens move slowly away from the area and let them do their thing.
Wasps are readily identifiable by their bright yellow and black colouring. Note the yellow legs. The colouring on the abdomen also has a pattern to it compared to the plain stripes on the bees. Wasps also have thinner, longer wings.
Wasps are very good at killing off garden pests but will chew wood and other materials to make their nest which can cause damage to property. Wasps will eventually abandon their nest, but if they cannot be left alone then you will need to call a Pest Controller. Local Authority approved pest controllers can be found on the internet, local directories or on our LINKS page.
A number of members of the South East Herts Beekeepers Association are willing to collect honey bee swarms from private and public property on the proviso we have the owner's permission to do so.
Swarms have a habit of settling in a variety of unusual and inaccessible places and as such collection will only be attempted if it is safe to do so.
Our beekeepers will give their time free of charge on a "best endeavours" basis. They are all volunteers and most of them have day jobs to do and will not necessarily be immediately available, but we will try to get to you as soon as possible.
We would ask that you help us by making sure that you only call our SWARM OFFICER once you have carried out a simple check to determine what type of bees you have. This is important because we can only collect honey bees and are not in a position to remove bumble bees or wasps. Whilst we cannot collect bumble bees or wasps, we have provided some advice further down this page which we hope you will find useful.
What type of Bees or Wasps do I have ?
Below there are some pictures of different types of bees and wasps that can help you identify what kind you may have on your property