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There's been a few posts lately on our local Facebook group about who to get in to remove bees and wasps, and generally people seem pretty uninformed about bees and wasps. So I thought I'd put together my take on what is/isn't a problem.
First wasps. Now these generally aren't a problem to us humans until late Autumn when the workers start to starve and are a nuisance round your glass of beer or soft drink. They are literally dying for something sweet. Currently, the workers have their work cut out hunting small prey to take back to their nests to take much notice of us.
Where people do get concerned is if they find a wasp nest in their shed, garage, loft and the like. Getting a pest control company out is going to cost you at least £60 to £80, so my advice would be if you don't go in your loft that often or it's in a shed where they aren't particularly bothering you, just leave it and save your cash. At the end of the Summer season the nest dies and wasps never re-use old nests. Then, over Winter or early Spring, you can safely get rid of somewhat fragile paper nest yourself.
Just one point to keep in mind is that if the nest is in a 'good' location (good for wasps that is) then you might want to think about sealing off where the wasps are currently getting in.
There are other sorts of wasps to the ones you generally see who build nests, such as solitary wasps, parasitic wasps and the like, but unless you are specifically looking for them, you are unlikely ever to even spot them and they are rarely if ever a problem to us
Bumble bees are never much of a problem to us. Depending on the species, they live in small colonies of 50 to 200 workers. Often their hives are under hedges in a small hole in the ground such as an old mouse nest. They are very unlikely to nest anywhere actually inside your house. Leave them to get on with what they do best - pollinating.
Masonry Bees are solitary bees and although they can live in small cracks between your bricks they don't cause extensive damage. They just want a small cosy place to live, so unless your brick work is in such a state that it is about to fall down anyway, leave well alone and just enjoy observing these fascinating creatures.
Honey Bees live in very big colonies of 20,000 to 50,000 workers but unless you are a bee keeper you are not likely to see a honey bees living as a colony in your garden. What people do spot on occasions are honey bee swarms. A swarm comprises an old queen plus about 15,000 to 20,000 workers who have gifted the existing hive to a new queen and now need to find a new home for themselves.
Never call a pest control company about honey bees! It will cost you and they are not pests.
So you have two options. First, call your local branch of the British Beekeepers Association and they will more than likely be more than glad to send someone out to collect. A bee colony is valuable and it is always a bonus to get a ready-made one for free. The second option would be to just to leave them. Swarms are very placid and generally won't sting even if disturbed a little. They have no honey to protect, are very vulnerable . I collected one a couple of weeks ago with just a beekeepers veil over my head (I didn't want risk a sting to the face) and didn't get attacked at all. Left alone, after a couple of days, a swarm will find a new home in the hollow of an old tree somewhere and re-locate to there and you'll not see them again.
Thak you for the information Michael. I must admit that I don't like wasps but do have plants to encourage bees into my garden. So many of our bee species have died so try and care for the ones still here.
I am now a widow and live with my memories.
I have a colony of bumble bees living in the fence gap between the patio and shed - during winter, the board over the fence was blown up and out and in spring I decided to put it back ... I was aware of bumble bees buzzing around the patio at the time but didn't think about it thinking they were visiting the flowers, until they were all investigating the fence where I had just refitted the board. Board off and they resumed their trips in and out of the fence - well, that'll teach me for not doing the task earlier in the year. Having the board off isn't too big an issue but it does keep the fence dry (probably why the bees have nested under the part of the fence with the rest of the board is still on top.
Thank you for the information, Michael. Last year I had a bees nest and a wasps nest in the roof of the workshop. I did get a local man in to remove them, as they terrified me. I am hoping that they will not return, as you indicated.
I must admit I'm not the greatest fan of wasps. I certainly have had more wasp stings than bee stings, even though I keep bees. That said, I know they do a great job catching garden pests - it is estimated that each summer, social wasps in the UK capture an estimated 14 million kilogrammes of insect prey, such as caterpillars and greenfly.
I do think wasps look a bit evil compared to bumble bees which look soft and furry, which of course in reality they are not.
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