In summer we get many calls and questions from people with bees in their homes, outbuildings or bird boxes.  Often these turn out to be bumblebees.  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 see the pictures below.


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. 


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 honey bees then you can input your postcode to find a volunteer beekeeper who may be willing to collect the swarm.  However, beekeepers are not normally able to collect honey bees from roof voids, cavity walls and chimneys. Further information if you have bees in the structure of your property: Bees in Buildings

Other bees 

If they are not honey bees (Apis mellifera), unfortunately beekeepers do not normally remove them. This is because of the low chance of 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.


If the bees are not honey bees please leave them alone if possible. 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.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust website has further information.


      Red-tailed Bumblebee Worker with pollen                    Buff-tailed Bumblebee Queen                            Red-tailed Bumblebee Male

                                              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 & Female                                   Leafcutter Bee Female                                             Leafcutter Bee Female

                                                                 Ivy Mining Bee                                                     Red Mason Bee Female

                                                            Colletes Plasterer Bee Female                      Ashy Mining Bee

Hornets - European and Asian 

European Hornets are native and of no threat. 

European Hornet

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 identification page for further information.

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

                                               Asian Hornet

                          Asian Hornet Primary Nest with Queen




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.

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 only have 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 is further information on our swarm collection page.

On Facebook the BWARS group has many experts on bee identification via their Facebook page

For further information the following web links may prove useful:

About Bumblebees 
Identify a Bumblebee
Bumblebee nests FAQs 
Solitary Bees 
About Solitary Bees
Guide to British Solitary Bees 

This link will take you to a very comprehensive picture ID of most UK bees.

BWARS Website

Information sheets on gardening for bees & beehotels
Species information sheets 
Photo 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?