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  • Writer's pictureAndy Chittenden

Bumble bees and honey bees as pests?

We don’t often think of bees as being a nuisance as they are normally welcomed into the garden by most people. As a pest control company we receive many calls about bees of all species especially when they are a nuisance during the late spring and summer when they have taken up living in your house or garden close to your front or back door.

The tree bumble bee is a common problem in and around Dacorum; a native species of Europe have made themselves very comfortable in the England in the last 14 years. They are like many bumble bee species which live in small colonies of between 100 and 400 and will only cause concern if they are disturbed when they can be quite defensive. Tree bumble bees will happily take up home in nest boxes or in the roof of houses. As with any bee species where possible we will remove them unharmed from your property and relocate them to a safe location. The colony will cause no harm to the structure of your house, but can be a nuisance stopping you opening windows or restricting the use of the garden. If possible it’s best to let them stay and watch them come and go in their bumbling flight. At times a cloud of bees can be seen where drone bees (males) can be seen hanging around outside a colony waiting for the new queens to emerge.

Honey bees are a different matter, as a beekeeper I find them fascinating. But with colonies of up to 60,000 or more bees, which can be very defensive its best to call us for advice. Honey bees swarm once or more times a year depending on the strength of the main hive, initially collecting in a rugby ball sized ball near to the main colony before moving on to a chosen location. Call us if you see this as this is the best time to collect them. Many thousands of bees may arrive at your home, and decide that you roof, wall, chimney or shed is the perfect spot to start a new colony. Whilst they are swarming they are at their calmest, but once settled can be defensive. It is best to act immediately for once they are settled in there is very little that will move them on. Often serious steps have to be taken to remove bee colonies that have taken up residence, and it can involve building work and be costly. Bees can store between 60 and 100 lbs of honey a season and a large amount of wax comb, which is fine if it is in a beekeepers hive, but stored in your ceiling or chimney is far from funny. Honey dripping down walls or ceilings is a nuisance to say the least. Great care must be taken to deal with wild honey bees as there is a serious risk to other honey bees and this should only be done by a professional who knows the risks and the law. A large fine to the pest controller and householder may result if the law is broken.

There are 249 other types of bee in the UK including 24 bumble bees, 225 solitary bees. We receive calls for advice on mason bees, leaf cutter bees, mining bees and many more and we will try our best to identify them for you and give you free advice on how best to deal with them, often the solution is simple. We will always try to avoid killing them and we will try to relocate them where possible.

Next month we will be looking at the edible dormouse (Glis Glis) as a pest particularly in the Boxmoor and Felden areas and how you can avoid them and the process of dealing with them. Call us for free advice on any pest issue if you need to, see our advert for details.

Andy - First Choice Pest Control Ltd

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