Nuisance bees

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 bird box, 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.

Bees in the bird box

Most probably these are bumblebees. How lucky you are to have these nesting in your garden! The birds no longer need the nest box, and it is just the right size for bumblebees, and too small for honeybees. Just enjoy watching the bumblebees coming and going, busy pollinating the flowers in your garden.
Note: Our members do not remove bumblebee nests.

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

Bumblebees in compost heapThese 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.

Why do honeybees swarm?

Swarm on fence post

This swarm has landed on the top of a fence post.

Swarming is how one colony of honeybees increases to two colonies.

On a chosen day, usually around mid-day, during May/ June the bees “swarm”. A cloud of bees in their thousands leave home for the last time. The mother queen leaves with them as they seek their fortunes further afield. As mother queen has not used her wings, for flying purposes, for at least 12 months or indeed seen the light of day outside the hive during this time she is reluctant to fly very far, so she alights usually within a short distance of leaving home, and all of her daughters surround and protect her, while the “scout bees” search for a new home. This may be in a hollow tree, or sometimes the eaves or roof void of a house or the chimney.

It is at this stage that most non-beekeepers panic, as a cloud of bees invades their property.

What do they do?

A swarm entering a skep

A swarm entering a skep

Don’t panic! Swarming bees are intent on one thing only–looking for a new home and not seeking to sting anyone.  Within a few minutes the queen will have landed and the worker bees will follow her into their new home, or will form a protective ball around her, if she has settled upon a branch, wall etc.

A phone call to your local beekeeping association. is usually the next step as most beekeepers are on stand-by for swarms, and will either collect the swarm or advise upon any possible problem, e.g. where they have settled in a chimney.

A swarm being Hived.

A swarm being hived. The bees are shaken from the skep onto the sheet. They soon walk up into the dark entrance of the hive.

You could of course consider yourself extremely fortunate to have such a gift arrive on your property. Become a beekeeper and provide yourself, your family and friends with a welcome product–pure honey.

An added bonus, if you take this route, is that you will have joined the ranks of beekeepers, and from then on enjoy a hobby that will captivate you for the rest of your life.

Swarm help

A list of swarm collectors in North Wales is here. Beekeepers may make a charge to cover travelling expenses.

If you are in England, please see the BBKA Swarm Co-ordinators in England list: www.britishbee.org.uk/swarm_collection.php

Updated May 2017

37 Responses to Nuisance bees

  1. antony main says:

    hi i am about to move to a house in llangwm CORWEN i have a honey bees nest a the back of the garden can any body remove it for free or do i have to kill them

  2. Peter Harris says:

    Hello we have a bee swarm in a hedge in our garden in Llanrwst. It is not a problem, but is anyone interested in removing them. If no reply then we will let nature take its course.
    Thanks, PH

  3. Jayne Martin says:

    I seem to ave a bees nest in the bird box in my back garden. I have dogs which I am worried will get stung. Can anyone remove them plse? Thanks

    • secretary says:

      Hallo Jayne,
      This is most likely to be a bumblebee nest. (Bird boxes are too small for honeybees). Bumblebees do not sting and they are no danger to you or your dogs. Please see information on bumblebees on our website page Nuisance Bees.

  4. brian king says:

    hi , i have got bees in eves of my garage this year , found way in through small hole , roof is leaking badly and i cannot get on roof to repair due to bees ,roof is flat and underdrawn inside garage so they r in that space, any suggestions to remove them , my number is 07784589440

  5. Richard Endacott says:

    Within the last day or two bees appear to have established a home in the roof of our house just above our balcony. I have read on this page that people are usually encouraged to live with them but my wife has a strong phobia of bees and wasps and living with them is just not option for her. Can anyone help or advise how we can get the bees to move on. We would certainly prefer not to have to kill them.

    • secretary says:

      Please see the list of beekeepers on our Nuisance Bees page. One of them may be able to help you.

  6. Daniel Godden says:

    I have recently moved into a property in st asaph and i have noticed over a month now a good number of bees going in and out of my bungalow just near the roof its becoming a nuisance is there anyone who could give me some advice or removal as i have a 9 month old baby and don’t really want to risk having her out in the garden when so many are about.

    • secretary says:

      Please see our page Nuisance Bees. Scroll down and you will find a list of local beekeepers who can help you.

    • secretary says:

      Removing bees from a house roof is well nigh impossible. See our list of beekeepers under Swarm help. There’s one covering St. Asaph

  7. Daniel Godden says:

    Hi im in the st asaph area and i have a very large number of bees going into a hole in wood below my roof of my bungalow is there anyway to get them removed

  8. Stuart Shackleton says:

    Hi, I have bees entering the roof space of my bungalow in Llandudno. I have tried to block the entrances they have been using, but they keep finding new ones. Could somebody please advise me as to how I can discourage them from using my roof as their home.

  9. Mike says:

    I have a swarm of Bees taken residence in a bird house in my garden and I am worried they might sting my two dogs, they have been there for a month so I think they have decided to stay, I have checked them and they are not bumble bees, not wasps, if anyone can help I would be great full. I don’t want to kill them that would not be right. hopefully some one can take them and create a new hive for them.

    Mike

    My telephone is 01492 879867

    • secretary says:

      I suggest that if they’ve been there for a month without any problem they are OK to live with. Just enjoy watching them coming and going. They are unlikely to sting you or your dogs.

  10. hannah Rawlins says:

    Hi we moved into our new house in Januray, and within the last couple of weekswe have noticed alot of bees going in and out of the vents into under the house, we can gain access to the back of the house with a hatch going underneath but the front of the house there is no access. they are not causeing much problem at the moment. but if swarm gets bigger would possibly like them relocating any suggestion. also there is a house a few doors away that sells local honey, not to sure if this is where they originated from or even if they have a bee hive. i live in prestatyn any advice please

  11. Minard B&J says:

    Bees in at our roof, for about 3 yrs but it needs to go to a new home not our roof. possible someone wants this bees, let us know please. thanks.

    • secretary says:

      Sorry, our members do not remove honeybees from a house roof. We always recommend that they are left alone.

  12. Tracey Moores says:

    Hi there. I’m looking for some bees for my friend who has some land near Bangor. He has a small orchard he planted himself. A small amount of woodland and an area of wild flowers and plants. He is very eager to get some bees for his land and is quite prepared to take on a swarm. Although he works as a vet in Manchester he is in Wales every weekend, from Friday through to Monday as he only works a three day week.
    Please would you ket me know if this is possible.

    Thankyou
    Mrs Tracey Moores

    • secretary says:

      Dear Tracey,
      Thanks for your message re beekeeping in Bangor.
      We suggest your friend attends our next (free) meeting with the bees at Tal y Cafn in the Conwy Valley on Saturday 28th June to see if he is happy around bees, or attends a Meet the Bees session at the National Beekeeping Centre HQ, Furnace Farm, also near Tal y Cafn.

      We can offer two proposals if he decides to proceed:
      1. A local beekeeper places a few of their hives at the orchard, and uses the site as an “out apiary”, with your friend assisting and learning from the beekeeper.
      2. Your friend attends a course run by the National Beekeeping Centre, at Henfaes near Bangor. See http://www.beeswales.co.uk and then buys the necessary equipment and bees, say £500 total. There may be one more intensive weekend course for beginners this summer. Date to be decided. Email holly@beeswales.co.uk
      The orchard will definitely benefit from beehives nearby, no doubt about that!
      Please let me have your friend’s email address, and I will add them to our email newsletter address list.

      Regards.
      peter mcfadden

  13. Derek h says:

    Hi, I live near Prestatyn. At the top of my garden I have a decking patio area complete with fixed seating and a fixed barbecue. A neighbour has just installed a bee hive about 8 foot away. As one who has a strong allergic reaction to bee stings, I have spent a lifetime trying to avoid them. Advice please.

    • secretary says:

      I’m sorry to hear that. We always urge beekeepers to be considerate towards neighbours. A polite word with them might help, especially as the beehive has only just been installed. They should be asked to relocate it.

  14. M.Williams says:

    Some bees have taken over my shed and I’m unsure of what to do. They seem to have made a snug home in some fleece stuff that is used to insulate tender shrubs and plants in the garden over winter. In the spring I folded this up and put it on the shelf in the shed and now the bees go in and out of the layers and I’m frightened to go in the shed to get anything in case they have a go at me. I never kill anything if I can help it so don’t want to use sprays or insect killers but I could do with getting in the shed for things.

    • secretary says:

      I think it is unlikely that the bees will have a go at you. They have chosen your shed as their home, and it would be a shame to disturb them. Best just to leave them alone.

      • M.Williams says:

        Thanks for your reply – I’ll leave them alone – might I get some honey at some point? Also, when the winter comes on will they just die off?

  15. Faye VanLandingham says:

    Sitting in the back garden and heard a sudden humming. Looked up to see thousands of multi-sized bees swarming. Was able to exit the garden without getting stung. Watched from a safe distance as they seemed to drift across a back pasture and out of site. Where did they come from and what precautions should I take to avoid getting stung?

    • secretary says:

      It’s quite a scary sight to see a swarm of bees in the air, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. They do not have a nest to protect and they are only concerned with finding a new home. They will settle on a tree branch after a few minutes, and form a tight cluster, about the size of a small rugby ball. If you see this you should alert a beekeeper, who will collect the swarm. The swarm will be sending out scout bees, looking for a suitable home, an old chimney, an empty beehive, roof of a house etc. They will stay in a cluster for maybe a day or so, then they will fly to the the new home.

  16. Terry Price says:

    Hi was cutting my hedge when i noticed 15 to 20 Honey Bees ,near my bedroom window,i cant see any holes anywhere,but they are there again today ,is there any way i can spray them or enything else i can do to get shut of them ???

  17. Eugene Stevenson says:

    Hi Folks,
    I understand that if they go, we go. Because of this I’m prepared to put up with the noise that the new residents of my roof make. However, the entrance via our soffit boards is just above our bathroom window which is an issue. Another issue is the fact that last night we left the spare bedroom window open and awoke to find nearly two dozen bees dead on the carpet and window sill. This we can’t live with, any advice please?
    Cheers,

  18. Ceri hughes says:

    Hi, I have a static caravan in Bala. We have a swarm of bees under our caravan. The problem is that they’re entering under our entrance door/kitchen window. It’s becoming problematic because they’re coming into the caravan. Is it possible for someone to come and remove them?

    • secretary says:

      Please see our website page Nuisance Bees which contains a list of beekeepers who may be able to help you.

  19. Susan Taylor says:

    HI, just walked the dog by Clwydgate near Ruthin and saw what looked like a swarm of bees.

    • secretary says:

      Hello Susan,
      Will you contact beekeeper Fiona Bell 0781 30887797, who may be able to help. It’s very late in the year for swarms of honeybees.

  20. Susan Taylor says:

    Please note the number you have supplied for Fiona Bell is incorrect.

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