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The Buzz On: Bees’ Nests

Nothing puts a dampener on a lovely summer picnic like wasps annoying you – and sadly, thanks to their annoying doppelgangers, bees are often tarred with the same brush. If you have a wasps’ nest, it can be exterminated - your local pest control specialist will probably be able to help. If you have a bees’ nest on your property, it may be a good idea for you to seek professional advice.

Last week, we looked at the two types of bees that live in colonies: honeybees and bumblebees. While both types of bee can sting, they tend to be fairly docile; honeybees only tend to sting if they are protecting their colony and queen, and generally the only time you will be stung by a bumblebee is if you stand on one. However, you may wish to have them removed. Here’s what you need to know.

Honeybees tend to swarm in late spring/early summer. Generally, the queen bee produces a pheromone (known as “queen substance”) which makes the female bees infertile. But as the queen gets old or weak, the pheromone levels reduce, meaning that new queens are reared. When a new queen is reared, the old queen will leave the hive with some of the colony; this is known as a swarm.

The swarm usually forms a cluster on a tree branch until a scout bee can find a suitable new home such as a hollow tree or the eaves of a house.

If you have a swarm or nest of honeybees on your property, try to find a local beekeeper – they will usually happily take them off your hands. It is important to do this as soon as you can; swarms can move on quickly, and once bees have nested, they can cause damage to your property.

Bumblebees and tree bees (which are similar to bumblebees) are very difficult to move successfully. Attempts to move bumblebee colonies usually result in the colony being damaged beyond recovery. Bumblebees are an important part of your environment and are busily making your garden bloom.

Unless you have any serious concerns (such as a bee sting allergy, or the nest is preventing you from using your garden or accessing a space that you need), it is best to leave a bumblebee nest alone.

At the end of the summer, the colony will split up; at this point, you can seal the hole to prevent a new colony from returning next year.

If you are concerned or unsure what lives in a nest in your garden, call your local pest control specialist for more advice. In the meantime, if you are aware of a nest in your garden, make sure any traders working on your property are aware so that they can avoid disturbing them.

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