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Bees information

Bees are one of the most important species of insect on the planet. Without them the flowering plants in our homes and gardens would not get pollinated and our agricultural industry would be ruined.

Because they are so important, we as a council do not treat for bees.

What to do if you are concerned about bees

Firstly Ė donít panic!

There are nearly 300 different types of bee in the UK. Most species donít or canít sting. Bees only sting as a last means of self defence. When a worker honeybee stings, it dies, so why would it want to?

If bees are causing you concern then follow these steps.

Step 1. Work out what type of bee it is

Just because it flies and has stripes doesnít make it a risk to you or your family.

There are three main types of bee:

  • Bumblebees. There are over 20 different types in the UK.
  • Solitary bees of which there are over 200 different types in the UK.
  • Honeybees.

Take a close look at the bee you are concerned about. These websites provide help to identify which one of the three main types of bee you are dealing with.

Step 2. Understand the risk

Once youíve identified the type of bee, you can understand how it is likely to behave.

Bumblebees live in nests of up to a couple of hundred individuals. They will often form nests in bird boxes, compost heaps, air bricks and behind facia boards.

They are not at all aggressive and almost never sting unless seriously provoked. Therefore even if they are nesting near to your house they pose almost no threat. In fact they can be fascinating to watch.

Solitary bees live, as the name suggests, alone or in very small numbers. A number of species (mortar or masonry bees) will make their homes in brickwork.

Solitary bees either have no sting, or it is so weak that it cannot penetrate the skin. They pose no risk.

Honeybees will generally be seen individually or in groups moving from one flower head to another in the garden from where they return to their hive. They occasionally swarm which is when a new colony of bees is in the process of searching for new location to establish a nest. A swarm consists of many thousands of insects and will land on any surface, wall, hedgerow, washing line. A swarm, contrary to public perception, is a reasonably calm entity, although they can look and sound quite intimidating.

To help you identify the type of bee or wasp present, please refer to the Burton BKA swarm information in the related documents section at the bottom of this page.

Step 3. Take action to reduce the risk

Solitary bees pose no risk, so we would recommend that they be left alone. They will die off in late summer. If you want to stop them setting up home next year (for example in brickwork), then re-point the affected walls with a strong mortar or find some other way of sealing the surface.

We would recommend that unless they are causing great distress bumblebee nests should also be left alone.

If you cannot live with them then it is possible to move the nests to somewhere less intrusive. The following websites provide practical advice on moving bumblebee nests;

Bumblebees are a protected species and must not be killed or you may face prosecution.

If you donít want to move the nest then you can take lots of simple steps to ensure that you can live together:

  • Donít swat at or run from bees. Gently brush them away or wait for them to leave on their own.
  • Avoid sweet-smelling perfumes and colognes and brightly coloured clothing. Both make the bees think youíre a flower and they will be attracted to you.
  • Avoid wearing sandals or walking barefoot in the grass. Bees love clover and other low growing plants and you may step on one accidentally.
  • Open sugary and fizzy drinks will attract bees.
  • Cover outdoor rubbish bins with tightly fitting lids.
  • Use screens on doors and windows near to the bee nest.

Step 4. Ask a beekeeper for help

Local beekeepers will only come out and remove swarms of honeybees. They will not remove or treat for solitary bees or bumblebees.

If you have a swarm contact the Burton Beekeepers Association or Derbyshire Beekeepers Association.

Contact details

Environmental Health
South Derbyshire District Council
Civic Offices
Civic Way
DE11 0AH

Tel: 01283 595795
Fax: 01283 595855
Online: Make a general enquiry

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Related documents

The following document is in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)