Bees are generally not aggressive unless handled or their nests are disturbed. In most circumstances bees can be left well alone and do not need to be destroyed.

The British Beekeepers Association can help you find out what kind of insect you have and what to do about it.

Do you have a swarm of bees?
Find out more information on swarm collection on the British Beekeepers Association website.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has lots of useful information.

If you need pest control treatment urgently, you can contact a private contractor who is British Pest Control Association (BPCA) or National Pest Technicians Association (NPTA) approved.

Bumble Bees

Most people can recognise these large furry bees. Bumble and solitary bees are unlikely to sting unless they are handled or their nests disturbed. Bumble and solitary bees die out after summer and only the females survive by finding a suitable resting place, ready to start new colonies in the spring.

Bumble bees will often make a nest in holes in trees, or possibly by excavating in soft sandy earth. Some bees prefer to make their nests in suitable cavities in buildings, and will even excavate soft mortar from brickwork to make their individual nests. The nest is essentially a ball of grass and moss with wax cells inside it. The number of bees in the largest bumblebee nest does not exceed several dozen. Others will make their nests in sandy domestic lawns. They are sometimes mistaken for Honeybee swarms but bumble bees do not swarm. The beekeepers listed below are unable to help with Bumble Bees.

Solitary Bees

There are several families of bees which are solitary by nature, but the commonest group are frequently called mining bees. They closely resemble the honeybee, although the individual species differ in colouration. One of the best-known species is the tawny mining bee, which has a thorax and abdomen richly covered in dark tan coloured fur. Each individual bee will make a nest in a suitable position in the ground, often sandy domestic lawns. There may be individual nests grouped closely together, taking advantage of the ease of excavation in the light soil. They sometimes cause minor nuisance until they disappear in mid-summer. They cannot successfully sting humans. The beekeepers listed below are unable to help with Solitary Bees.

Mason Bees

Their colouration is very similar to the honeybee. They prefer to make their nests in suitable cavities in buildings and will even excavate soft mortar from brickwork to make their individual nests. Although harmless in all other respects, the damage to soft mortar in older properties may be quite severe over several seasons. Their stings are usually unable to penetrate human skin. The beekeepers listed below are unable to help with Mason Bees.

Honey Bees

Honey bees are the only type of bee that will swarm. A swarm is identifiable literally as a football sized (or sometimes larger) ball of bees.

A swarm will often move from place to place until they find a suitable nesting place. If a swarm has settled on a chimney it is advisable to light a smoky fire if you are able to do so to discourage them. If bees enter your property you should contact the council for urgent advice.

Where a swarm of honey bees has settled outside for more than about half an hour, you can contact a beekeeper who will often come and remove the swarm for you.

Details of local beekeepers, who will collect a swarm, can be found on the British Beekeepers Association website. You can contact a beekeeper who is closest to your area.

Last reviewed: October 23, 2023 by Qi

Next review due: April 23, 2024

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