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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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What Flying Insect Am I?

At this time of year, we are preparing ourselves for various insect seasons.  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.  An approximate timeline of these seasons may help you to identify which insect you have and their behaviour, which in itself can be reassuring.

Red Mason Bee

Red Mason Bee using an existing hole

March/April – We receive enquiries about solitary bee activity of which there are more than 200 recorded species.  They are individual bees that can appear in numbers.  These insects do not live in colonies, they will lay their eggs in an existing hole in a building and then they will backfill it with vegetation, leaving soon after.  As soon as the larvae emerge, they will eat their way out and as adults, they too will leave.  They do not sting.  Most Mason Bees nest in existing cavities which is why they take so easily to “bee hotels” that many people put up in their gardens.  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.

Bumble Bee | Hinton Pest Control

Bumblebee

April / May – We anticipate bumblebee enquiries.  Of the 250 known species, 25 are found in the UK but only 6 of these are a familiar sight in our gardens.  At Hinton Pest Control, we actively encourage people to live along side these beautiful and docile creatures who are temporary lodgers that do not cause any damage to a property.  They are social bees that have an average number of about 40-50 individuals in the colony.  Individuals will only sting as a last resort if they feel threatened and will die shortly afterwards.

 

Occasionally we relocate them if they have nested in a bird box but otherwise we leave them alone where possible.

Honey Bee | Hinton Pest Control

Honeybee

April/May/June – We anticipate honeybee enquiries.  We work closely with the Worcestershire Bee Keeper Association to collect displaced swarms but if they are in the fabric of the building, it is unlikely that a beekeeper can assist.  Honeybees can cause structural damage if they have been in situ for a while.  Typically, they will gather in a “cloud-like” formation close their entrance to the nest.  They are social bees that can be made up of thousands of individuals in the colony.  Individuals and other nearby individuals can sting if they feel threatened and will die shortly afterwards.  Honey Bees are tricky in pest control terms and although we offer no guarantee of accepting the work, we do try to problem solve for our clients.  A full survey is required before any treatment can be attempted.  Sometimes they are easily dealt with but sometimes it ends up as a two person job requiring a number of treatments plus the skills of builders to remove honeycomb & seal the treatment area.

 

Wasp | Hinton Pest Control

Vespula vulgaris

May/June/July/August/September – This is wasp/hornet season and all species of social wasp, they are treated as pests when they come into conflict with people.  These social wasps can contain a few hundred individuals (and sometimes a few thousand later on in the season) in the colony.  Wasps will sting and they can sting repeatedly but they don’t necessarily die.  Worker wasps die from starvation in the autumn/winter and new Queen Wasps go off to hibernate, leaving the nest empty.  The Queen Wasps will make a brand new nest in the spring and leave old nests uninhabited which will gradually crumble and disintegrate.   Hinton Pest Control Ltd routinely provides pest control treatment for nests where there is wasp activity.

Further Information about the above species can be found by clicking the following links:

Hinton Pest Control Ltd

Bumblebees:   http://hintonpestcontrol.co.uk/index.php/we-encourage-people-to-live-alongside-bumblees-where-possible/
Honeybee and Wasp Comparison:  http://hintonpestcontrol.co.uk/index.php/is-it-a-honeybee-or-a-wasp/
Hornets:  http://hintonpestcontrol.co.uk/index.php/hornet-sightings-create-a-buzz/

Bumblebee Conservation Trust

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

Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society

BWARS Beginners:  http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=content/beginners-bees-wasps-and-ants
BWARS Technical:  http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=content/bees-britain

Royal Entomological Society

General Insects:  http://www.royensoc.co.uk/insect_info/what_is_it.htm
Solitary Bees:  http://www.royensoc.co.uk/insect_info/what/solitary_bees.htm?hc_location=ufi
Bumblebees:  http://www.royensoc.co.uk/insect_info/what/bumblebees.htm

Worcestershire Bee Keepers Association
Honey Bees:  http://www.wbka.net/

Wild About Gardens
Solitary Bee Hotels:  http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/thingstodo/intwohours/build-a-bee-hotel.aspx