Swarm of Bees in your garden or house?

The first thing is to determine whether they are honey bees, wasps or some other type of bee. Check out the bee identification guide on our web site:

http://www.sheffieldbeekeepers.org.uk/bee-identification/

WASPS & HORNETS

Hopefully our guide will enable you to quickly identify wasps or hornets. If you have any of these and they are a severe nuisance or hazard then you may have to contact the Council’s Environmental Health Department or a private pest control company. Beekeepers do not deal with these.

BUMBLE BEES

http://bumblebeeconservation.org/
http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/identification/

Bumble bee colonies are much smaller than honey bee ones – a few hundred at the most, and a bird box is just about right for them. They will just mind their own business if left alone and should be no more a hazard than if they were in your neighbour’s garden, for instance.

There is however a tree bumble bee that has been making its way northwards and may have reached Sheffield by now. It is very sensitive to noise and vibration and apparently very defensive so it can be a hazard in heavily trafficked areas or if the colony is nesting on a shed wall and the door is banged when opened & closed.

Bumble bees are important pollinators too, so worth celebrating them as honoured guests!

200 SPECIES OF BEES

There are more than 200 species of bees in the UK – all but the bumble bee and honey bee are solitary bees in that the queen will build a nest with all necessary provisions and leave the eggs to develop without her. Many of these bees look similar to each other and the easiest way to tell them apart is from the numbers of bees and their behaviour. Solitary bees will often nest in the same vicinity as each other – but you will not see more than 20-50 bees together. Their common names will be a clue to where you might find them – carpenter bees (in logs & tree stumps), masonry (or mason) bees in mortar joints of stone or brick walls, mining (or miner) bees in the ground. All these bees are important pollinators and will rarely sting.

http://www.royensoc.co.uk/insect_info/what/solitary_bees.htm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Hymenoptera
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mason_bee
http://www.moraybeedinosaurs.co.uk/solitary.html

DAMAGE TO YOUR HOME

If you’re worried about damage to your home take a look at this web site:

http://www.spab.org.uk/advice/technical-qas/technical-qa-17-masonry-bees/

It’s from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings; if they are not overly concerned then it’s a pretty safe bet your house will be fine.

Sheffield Beekeepers do not deal with any of the bees above.

HONEY BEES

Honey bees are what beekeepers deal with, and they come in colonies of more than 10,000 bees (clustered together about the shape & size of a rugby ball!) so you’d definitively know if you have a swarm of honey bees. A full colony will number 50—60,000 bees and will take up residence in a cavity of between 30 and 50 litres (about the size of the blue plastic recycling box in use in Sheffield).

We can collect honey bees but only if they are readily accessible and it is safe to do so. This usually rules out working high up or in loft spaces. We are all amateur beekeepers and our standard insurance does not cover us for work at high level. If

  • you are sure they are honey bees and
  • they are easily accessible and
  • they can be accessed safely

then we might be able to help. If you consider them a hazard or severe nuisance then the Council’s Environmental Health Department may be able to help but they do charge.

If you are certain they are honey bees and we can get access to them safely and readily then we can ask one of our members to call by but you may be charged for a wasted journey if they are not honey bees or access to them is difficult. The easiest way to find a swarm collector near you is to use the BBKA web site and input your postcode:
http://www.bbka.org.uk/help/do_you_have_a_swarm.php

If you need further information please write to info@sheffieldbeekeepers.org.uk and make sure you give us your full postal address, including postcode, and telephone number so that we can see if it is feasible for one of our members to call and see the bees. If you can take a good quality photo and send it with your email that would be useful too.