Every summer, we receive frequent phone calls from householders concerned about nuisance bees:
“We’ve got a swarm of bees in the garden, bees in the chimney or roof, bees in the shed, bees in the compost heap, bees in the lawn, bees burrowing into the house walls. We are worried that the grandchildren, the neighbours or the dog might get stung”.
Our advice is always the same: Live with the bees if you can, and be glad that they have chosen your garden. We need more bees, and they are very unlikely to sting.
Swarm of bees
Beekeepers are always keen to collect swarms of bees, in May or June, if they are clustered on a branch within safe reach of the ground. Contact Conwy BKA for swarm collection in Conwy County. A charge may be made to cover travelling expenses.
Bees in the chimney or roof
These probably are honeybees. If they have only just arrived in the chimney (May or June) you might be able to drive them away by lighting a fire in the fireplace. If they have been there more than a day, they will have started to make honeycomb and they will be impossible to remove alive. We know of houses that have had honeybees in the roof for decades without any problems. We always encourage householders to live with them.
Our members do not climb onto roofs in search of bees.
Bees in the shed
These may be honeybees, but are more likely to be wasps. Wasps make a paper nest, with the entrance at the bottom. Honeybees make parallel beeswax combs, and you will see the bees on the combs. Wasps can be a nuisance, but they help the gardener by eating aphids. The nest can be destroyed with a wasp spray, obtainable from any hardware shop. Wait until evening, when the wasps are in the nest. Squirt the spray into the entrance. Next day, remove the dead nest.
Bees in the compost heap
These are probably bumble bees. We need more bumble bees. They are very important pollinators of fruit and vegetables. They work at lower temperatures than honeybees, and they should never be destroyed. If necessary, make a new compost heap elsewhere. Only the queen lives through the winter. Click here for more information on bumblebees.
Bees in the lawn
These are probably solitary miner bees. Click here for information.
Bees burrowing into the house walls
These are probably masonry bees. Click here for information.
Click here for information on other types of bees and wasps and hornets.
Peter McFadden, May 2011
Tel: 01492 650851