What bee is this?

In summer we get many calls and questions from people with bees in their buildings, outbuildings and bird boxes. Often these turn out to be bumblebees.

Step 1 - Identification

As well as honeybees 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 see the pictures below.

Honeybees

There can be variation in the colour of the main body or abdomen of honeybees, from honey coloured Italian bees to very dark native Black honeybees but all will form a distinctive cluster when they have settled as a swarm. Honeybees have large hairy eyes, a furry chest or thorax and distinctive bent antennae. 

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 This is a swarm of honeybees gathered on a wall. There are more pictures of swarms here honeybee swarms



If you are sure they are honeybees then again follow the link at the bottom of the the BBKA website swarm page http://www.bbka.org.uk/swarm.  This allows you to type in your postcode and find a nearby beekeeper, who may be willing to collect the swarm.
Beekeepers are not normally able to collect honeybees from roof voids, cavity walls and chimneys.

Other bees 


If they are not honeybees (Apis mellifera), unfortunately beekeepers do not normally remove them. This is because of the low chance of a success and the capacity of our members to respond to the very large volume of non-honey bee calls.  If wasps or hornets and they are in a dangerous position you may wish to contact a pest control company as beekeepers will not remove them.




Bumblebees and Solitary Bees

If the bees are not honeybees please leave them alone. All bees are valuable pollinators and many are becoming endangered. Bumblebee nests will normally die out in Autumn. Most bumblebees live in small colonies, are not aggressive, do not sting unless provoked and so present a low risk. If you have a bumblebee nest with an entrance that is causing problems, it is sometimes possible to redirect their flight path.

Tree bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum) may be more sensitive to vibrations and are on occasion a little feisty. Tree bumblebees have a distinctive white rump and ginger furry back and often like to nest in bird boxes. However they usually only fly for a few weeks so should be left alone.

Bumblebee Conservation Trust have a free 3D augmented reality app to help you identify 8 common bumblebees: Click here to download app for iphone: https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/3d-app-brings-uk-bumblebees-to-life-on-your-phone/

And Click here for Google Play app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bbct.bumblebee&hl=ens

 
Red-Tailed Bumblebee worker with pollen


 Red-tailed Bumblebee male

Buff-tailed Bumblebee queen 

Tree Bumblebee

Common Carder Bumblebee worker 

Solitary Bees 

As their names suggest solitary bees do not live in colonies. Each female makes her own nest but they can nest close together in large numbers. If they are in your lawn or buildings, 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.




Tawny Mining Bee female



Wool Carder Bee male


Buffish Mining Bee female 




Red Mason Bee male and female 


Leafcutter Bee female



Leafcutter Bee female

Ivy Mining Bee 



Colletes Plasterer Bee female 




Red Mason Bee female 


Ashy Mining Bee 

 


Hornets - European and Asian 


The European hornet


European Hornets are native and of no threat. 

Asian Hornets are an invasive species and must be reported!

Never Disturb an Active Asian Hornet Nest!

Beekeepers cannot remove Asian Hornets but we can assist with identification. See our Asian hornet team page for details of your local team https://www.bbka.org.uk/asian-hornet-action-team-map

Also please report immediately to: [email protected]  or use the Asian Hornet Watch smartphone app.

        

Asian hornet

Asian Hornet primary nest with queen 


Wasps



Social Wasps


Bee mimicking hoverfly 

There are flies that people mistake for bees and that is 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, flies have only one. Bees have long antennae flies have short antennae. Bees have hairy eyes, flies have very large eyes. Most like the one below 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 of long wings. 

If you need more help identifying a bee then there are other good places to look. www.bwars.com/home
On Facebook the BWARS group has many experts on bee identification via their Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/BWARS-Bees-Wasps-and-Ants-Recording-Society-146509645514261/

   

For further information about bumblebees the following web links may prove useful.
http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees
https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/identify-a-bumblebee/ 

www.bumblebeeconservation.org/bee-faqs/bumblebee-nests-frequently-asked-questions/                                                                     
Solitary Bees 
https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/other-bees/ 
https://www.growwilduk.com/wildflowers/bees-pollinators/all-about-solitary-bees  
https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/blog/ryan-clark/guide-solitary-bees-britain;
This link will take you to a very comprehensive picture ID of most UK bees including the many varieties of solitary bees https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/collections/72157631518508520/


BWARS Website
https://www.bwars.com/home  has good information sheets on gardening for bees, bee hotels etc 
https://www.bwars.com/information_sheets and good species accounts of all species in UK 
https://www.bwars.com/species_gallery

   
Frequently Asked Questions 


What can I do if: bumblebees nest in an air brick
What do I do if: bumblebees nest in my bird box

What do I do if: solitary bees nest in my lawn?
Can they sting my pets?
Will they sting my children?

Answers to these questions are found at https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/bee-faqs/ 

                   

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