What can you tell me about Bees?

Bumble Bees

Bumble bees are the large, furry bees that you will see flying on their own in your garden.

Their colonies can be found in places such as compost heaps, banks under hedges and beneath garden decking. The nest is a ball of vegetation with wax cells inside it and usually contains no more than 150 bees.

Bumble bees are unlikely to sting unless you touch them or disturb their nest, in which case they will want to defend themselves from what they see as an attack.

After the summer, bumble bees die out and only the females survive by finding a suitable place to spend the winter so they can start new colonies in the spring.

If you see a swarm of bees in this country, you can be sure they are not bumble bees, as bumble bees do not swarm.

Honey bees

In this country, honey bees are the only type of bee that will swarm.

A swarm is a ball of bees, the size of a football or larger, that will move from place to place looking for a suitable place to nest. This can be a space such as a hollow in a tree or in a cavity in a building.

This usually happens during May, June and July.

Swarms can be found in trees, on buildings and around chimneys. If they are left alone they usually present no serious risk to humans or animals.

If a swarm settles and remains outside, you can contact a bee keeper who may be prepared to collect the swarm from you.

The simplest way to prevent a nest being established in buildings on your land is to make sure brickwork and pointing is in good condition, so there is no way for the bees to get into cavities of your buildings.

Masonry bees

Masonry bees, or mortar bees, are a similar colour to honey bees but they do not swarm.

Their natural habitat is in earth banks or soft exposed rocks, but they can tunnel into soft mortar joints of buildings, which is how they get their name.

Although they are harmless to human health as they cannot successfully sting humans, they can cause significant damage to a building over a number of years.

The best way of dealing with this is to make sure you keep the pointing and brickwork of your property well maintained and in good condition.