If you have bees on your premises it is important to identify them correctly in order to determine who to approach for help. 

As well as honey bees there are around 24 species of bumblebee and over 240 species of solitary bee in the UK. 

To find out what type of bees you have please use the pictures below. 

If you are still unsure what type of bee you have then click here to go to the Beedentify website for additional help. 

BBKA volunteer members can only help if they are honey bees.


Bumblebees are often confused with honeybees. However they are rounder, larger and furrier and come with a variety of coloured stripes across the end of their tails. They are often found in a bird box, under the decking or in the compost and they are important pollinators.   Leave the nests alone if possible. They will die out at the end of summer and will cause no further problems. Bumblebees rarely sting or attack people or animals and should therefore not be disturbed.

If you have bees in the soffits, gutters, air vents or in your brickwork they are almost always a type of bumblebee and can be left alone. They will leave in late autumn and then you can fill the access points up to stop them returning.  A piece of net curtain hung at windows will deter the bees from coming into the house through an open window.

There are 24 different types of native bumblebee, all of which vary in size and colour. For more information about bumblebees go to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website or the Buzz About Bees website.

BBKA volunteer beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of bumblebees.

Solitary bees

Are there lots of small bees popping in and out of the wall or very small holes in the ground?
Do they have a 'reddy/brown' bottom?
Are they almost black?

These are solitary bees, of which there are over 240 species recorded in the UK.  As their name suggests, solitary bees do not live in colonies. Each female makes her own nest but they can nest close together in large numbers. They pose no threat or harm to you, your family or pets. Solitary bees are important pollinators and should be left alone. Their numbers will decrease over the summer and their nests should be left alone. If they are in your lawn or building, they may look worrying but they cause no damage.  Again, most species only fly for a few weeks, so will probably disappear again within a month.  Please leave them alone if you can. 

For more information go to The Wildlife Trusts.

Solitary Bees 
Identify Solitary Bees in the UK 

BBKA volunteer beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of solitary bees.

Honey Bees

Honey bees are small and vary in colour from golden brown to almost black. 
They have large hairy eyes, a furry chest or thorax and distinctive bent antennae.

When honey bees have settled in a swarm they will form a distrinctive cluster.

If you are sure they are honey bees please click here for our swarm collector map which allows you to type in your postcode to find a nearby beekeeper who may be willing to collect the swarm.  Our volunteer swarm collectors can also provide appropriate help and advice regarding swarms of honey bees.

Please note, however, that beekeepers are not normally able to collect honey bees from roof voids, cavity walls and chimneys.  Please click here for separate information regarding 'Bees in Buildings'.

Please see our swarm information page for further photographs of honey bee swarms.


Are they bright yellow with black stripes?
Very smooth, mainly yellow with black stripes?
Are they in the roof of your house?
Are they coming from a round nest? 
Is there a nest in the shed?
Do they have a high pitched buzz?
Are they after all things sweet?

These are wasps.     For more information go to BWARS.

BBKA volunteer beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of wasps.

Bee Mimicking Hoverfly

There are flies that people mistake for bees and that it not surprising because nature has designed them like that to ward off their predators.  How to tell the difference:  Bees have two pairs of wings and flies only have one.  Bees have long antennae and flies have short antennae.  Bees have hairy eyes and flies have very large eyes. 

Most, like the one above, have eyes that cover the whole of the front of their head and two small feathery antennae stick out just below them and definitely just one pair or long wings.

BBKA volunteer beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of the bee mimicking hoverfly.

European Hornets

Are they very big with a loud buzz?
Are they black and brown with a hint of orange?
Are they living in the roof or shed?
Do they have a very big curved tail?
Do they have brown legs?

These are European Hornets and are valuable pollinators usually found in wooded areas.   For more information go to The Wildlife Trusts.

BBKA volunteer beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of hornets.

Asian Hornets

Are they dark brown or black with a velvety body?
The queen is up to 30mm long and the worker up to 25mm long (smaller than the European counterpart).
Are the legs yellow at the ends?

These are Asian Hornets which is an invasive non-native species from Asia. As a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other beneficial species, the Asian Hornet can cause significant losses to bee colonies, other native species and potentially whole ecosystems.

Please do not disturb an active Asian Hornet nest.

If you find an Asian Hornet then you must report it.    For more information click here.

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