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Honeybees: A Hive of Activity

We wouldn’t be surprised if this weekend’s warm weather triggers honeybees to swarm.  A honeybee colony has one queen at the heart of the colony.  At this time of year, virgin queens emerge & they leave the established colony.  These new queens usually take part of the colony with them as they leave.  This is known as “swarming” and is timed with warm weather so this may occur over the next few days.

Honeybee Swarm

Ready for collection

When they huddle like this, they are resting, warming up or regrouping during displacement and they can take off as quickly as they arrived.  If you see a balled mass of honeybees they will be in a peaceful state.  Please do not disturb them.  If threatened or attacked, the colony will become aggressive and potentially become a public health risk; anyone nearby can get stung by literally thousands of honeybees.

If honeybees gather in a rugby ball type tightly-knit mass, outside and within arm’s reach (i.e. not at height), contact the Worcestershire Bee Keepers’ Association here.  They will locate a bee keeper to collect the swarm.  Sometimes a bee colony can be collected and given to a new bee keeper just setting up or an existing bee keeper who may have lost a hive over winter.

If the honeybees land in a confused gathering on your wall, roof, in your garden etc (not a tight-knit ball) then they are taking a bit of time out to gather their thoughts during relocation.  They will take off as quickly as they arrived.

If honeybees seek shelter in a working chimney this week, whatever the weather, light a fire light a fire for at least 4 hours and continue to do so for 3-5 days so that the smoke discourages them from staying.  If not a working chimney, observe them for at least 7 days and hope that the colony chooses to leave.  If after 7 days, they are still in the chimney then the queen is likely to stay in the chimney and thus, the colony.

If they settle into the fabric of a building, a bee keeper will be unable to collect them.  Honeybees can cause structural damage to property over time.  Typically, they gather in a “cloud-like” formation close to the nest entrance.  They are social bees made up of thousands of individuals in the colony.  Call us on 01386 41762 to arrange a site survey if you need us.  We offer no guarantee of accepting bee work but we will try to problem solve for you, where we can.

 

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Bee Season Has Started

Hinton Pest Control have received lots of enquiries about bees recently, which means that bee season has started.  There are millions of species of insects and in the sunshine, they are all out and about doing their thing but only a handful of them become a pest which require pest control intervention.  So let’s talk about a group of bees, known as solitary bees,

Andrena cineraria - Ash Mining Bee

Andrena cineraria – Ash Mining Bee

At this time of year, these enquiries are about solitary bees of which there are more than 200 recorded species including mason, leaf-cutters, mining and carpenter bees.  They are individual bees that can appear in numbers.  As the name suggests, these insects do not live in colonies.  Most solitary bees are useful pollinators.  When they visit a flower, pollen is transferred onto the hairs on their abdomen.  This pollen gets transferred to other flowers of the same species as the bee travels around.  Many flowers are dependent on insects for pollination and without this service, they cannot set seeds.  Solitary bees, like bumblebees, can fly in cool or drizzly weather, unlike honeybees that stay at home during inclement weather.  Solitary bees can be important pollinators of fruit trees and bushes, which flower in the spring when poor weather often occurs.

The majority of ground nesting bees actually dig their own burrows, the spoil forms little soil “volcanos” around the burrow entrance in many cases.   If your lawn is affected in this way, just go over the soil with a stiff brush and spread it over the lawn.  This won’t cause a problem for the bees; they will find the revised entrance, clean out any soil that got pushed in to the burrow and carry on with things.  They will only be with you for a few weeks and then you won’t see them again until next year in March / April.  Hinton Pest Control Ltd does not provide pest control for solitary bees.

An excavation made by an Ash Mining Bee.

An excavation made by an Ash Mining Bee.