Wasps, Bees or Hornets?

New for 2014 Tree Bumblebees and Asian Hornets

The Tree Bumblebee

The Tree Bumblebee can be very aggressive
The Tree Bumblebee can be very aggressive

We had our first few callouts for Tree Bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum) during 2012, but last year the number of calls to this bee increased hugely. We are expecting an explosion of colonies during 2014 and onwards, since this bee is very hardy.

It is a non-native bee species, and may be invasive. Left to its own devices this bee is great news for pollination, however when it comes into contact with humans it is highly aggressive.

This bee nests in wood, cracks and crevices, it loves bird boxes and the space under decking, as well as in behind fascias and soffits at gutter level. The colony defends itself when vibration is detected and will attack with the ferocity wasps.

Although we try not to harm bees, this species is dangerous when nesting low down in your garden. Its distinctive markings, the orange head and white tail, make it easy to spot and we recommend calling a pest controller immediately you think you may have a nest. Do not get too close!

To help you identify the tree bumble we have links to some videos – The Tree Bumblebee

The cost to destroy a Tree Bumblebee colony is £59. This includes 3-4 times the quantity of pesticide required to deal with wasps, and a possible second visit, these bees are tough!

The Asian Hornet

Asian Hornet
The Asian Hornet is much larger than a wasp

There has been coverage in the media of the expected arrival in the UK of the Asian Hornet. We do not expect to see many in the North West just yet, however, it pays to be cautious.

This invasive species will require control since it preys on our honeybees!

If you think you see a hornet’s nest, call us right away.

Caution: In the North West UK there is an urban myth that hornets are much smaller than wasps, this is not true they are huge when compared to wasps.

More information about Asian hornets here.

It’s important to be sure you have wasps and not bees before you call us out, since we very rarely harm native bees.

Bees, whether they are bumble bees, honeys or solitaries, are generally docile…although some are able to sting, they are unlikely to harm you. With a worldwide concern for the welfare of bees, which are vital for plant pollination and the continuance of food growth, no professional pest controller will destroy bees without good reason.

It is a myth, however, that bees are protected by law. If a colony represents a significant danger to life or property destruction must be considered, however every other avenue will be examined first, such as moving a honey bee swarm away from the area.

How can you tell?

Partly by the look, partly by the behaviour, partly by numbers and partly by time of year.

Bumble Bees

The Bumble Bee
The Bumble Bee

The bumble bee is the easiest bee to identify: fat and furry, this bee looks too big to be able to fly. You may see 10 or 20 bees going in and out of a crevice or hole.  They don’t build a noticeable nest.

Bumbles are generally docile and great for your garden, if you leave them alone they will ignore you and leave of their own accord at the end of the summer. They won’t return to the same spot next year.

Please don’t call a pest controller to destroy bumbles, unless they have taken up residence somewhere truly dangerous, or you have pets which like to eat them. With the soaring cost of petrol and diesel, all our technicians will be obliged to make a call-out charge of £25 to cover the cost of coming to your home and they won’t destroy your bees.

Honey Bees

The Honey Bee
The Honey Bee

Honey bees are frequently mistaken for wasps, however their behaviour is significantly different. If your property is visited by honey bees they will arrive in a swarm of hundreds, possibly thousands of bees. The swarm is looking for somewhere to build a new home and may well move on after a few hours in a tree or bush, or perhaps an airbrick or open chimney.

The Wasp Man is always happy to come and deal with a honey bee swarm for you; they will not be destroyed, rather removed carefully and rehomed with a local beekeeper. The cost to remove a swarm is £75.00.

Honey Bee Swarm
Honey bees swarming in a tree

While swarming, the bees are docile and won’t harm you if you leave them alone. We advise waiting 24 hours before calling us out, since it is likely that they will have moved on before we arrive. We may then be obliged to charge our call-out fee.

If a swarm moves into part of your home and stays there, it may have to be destroyed for your safety and we will do this if we think it wise. The cost to destroy a swarm in these circumstances is £59.

Should this happen, please call us right away.

It is important to destroy the colony before any honey is made, since this significantly increases the complexity and cost. The honey must be removed to protect other local bees and we may have to supply scaffolding or a cherry picker to complete the task. Moreover, a honey bee colony left to its own devices for a period of time is capable of generating enough honey to block your chimney or bring down your ceiling.


Wasps have a very noticeable 'waist'!

Unlike bees, wasps can be aggressive and a nest should be professionally treated as soon as you find it. You may or may not be able to see the nest, frequently you will just see wasps coming and going from a crevice or hole. You may see10 to 20 wasps using one specific spot to access their nest, not the hundreds of a bee swarm.

Wasps' Nest

Sometimes the nest is visible. It is made of a paper-like substance and is easy to damage. Please don’t touch it, just call us right away and we will attend the same day if at all possible. The cost to destroy a wasps nest is £65.00.

If you have wasps on your property, please visit our Wasps Nest Dos and Don’ts page to find out what we want you to do.

Seasonal Issues: Solitary Bees

In the early part of any year’s activity, during April and May, before the wasps are building, or the honey bees swarming, you may see solitary bees in your garden. They have no sting, don’t build a significant nest and are great for pollinating your flowers. We do not harm solitary bees, there is never any need. If you call us early in the season we will be able to tell, either from the time of year, or from the behaviour you describe, that you are seeing harmless bees.

Seasonal Issues: Wasp Queens

From mid-September, wasps nests begin to hatch the new queen wasps that will build the following year’s nests. If you discover a wasp nest late in the season it is highly likely that some new queens will have already left the nest to find a place to hibernate. The usual nest treatment will not harm them, therefore you can find yourself with several new nests the following year.

The Wasp Man offers an additional treatment for late wasp nests, which will ‘fog’ internal spaces such as lofts with insecticide. This optional treatment incurs an extra charge but ensures that any hibernating queens are killed, reducing the likelihood that you will have to call us out next year.

Wasps nests should always be dealt with at the earliest opportunity but should you find yourself delaying calling for assistance, make sure to have the nest destroyed before the end of August, to save additional charges and inconvenience.

Late Season Wasps Nests: Full Details


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