A sting in the tail!?

Published: Thursday, 5th May 2016

Know your Honey Bees, Solitary Bees, Bumble Bees and Wasps

There are four types of flying insects that cause concern for residents of the borough and for which they will usually contact Kettering Borough Council - these are Honey Bees, Solitary Bees, Bumble Bees and Wasps.

Kettering Borough Council has a policy of not treating bees as pests due to their extremely beneficial impact on our environment and their reduction in numbers; as a result, we do not provide a service to remove them. However, we are happy to give advice and, in the case of a swarm of honey bees causing an immediate risk to human health, we will co-operate with bee keepers for their removal to a safe location.

Unfortunately to the untrained eye it can often be difficult to tell bees apart, particularly Honey Bees and some species of Solitary Bees, of which there are some 250 species in Britain.

All types of Bee have what appears to be hair growing from the thorax or abdomen, the amount of hair can vary depending on the type of Bee. Honey bees tend to be of a more consistent colour usually dark brown or black with less hair. Solitary Bees tend to be more often confused with Wasps due to their sometimes colourful appearance, whilst Bumble Bees look large and round and very hairy. 

It is less difficult to tell the difference between Wasps and Bees. To the naked eye wasps do not appear to have hair and their colouration appears a lot brighter and more contrasting.

Honey Bees, Bumble Bees and Wasps live communally serving a Queen and numbers can vary considerably. A Bumble Bee colony may be up to several hundred, whilst Honey Bees and Wasps can number several thousands. Entrance to the “Hive or Nest” is usually through one or two entrance points, with continued activity back and forth.

We would advise wherever possible to leave Solitary and Bumble Bees to go through their life cycle. Solitary Bees do not sting and pose no threat to Human health. Bumble Bees will only sting if provoked or as the result of being accidentally sat upon or otherwise restricted.

There are no chemical solutions to Solitary Bees and, in the case of Mason Bees - one of the most common Solitary Bees - their presence usually indicates the need for remedial repair to brick/stone work.
Honey Bees can be protective if there is a perceived threat and advice can be obtained via ourselves or Bee Keepers; however, as stated previously, Kettering Borough Council would ordinarily not be directly involved in their relocation. Honey bees can be collected by your local bee keeper; details are available on the Northamptonshire Beekeepers website (http://www.northantsbees.org.uk/swarmret.html) or you can contact their local Swarm Liaison Officer on Tel: 01536 744 650 or mobile: 07909 900 181
Please note: The beekeeper may charge for this service.

Wasps can be very protective toward their nest particularly later in the summer months. Kettering Borough Council offers a complete integrated pest management service that can deal with these pests in a professional, timely manner. Contact us on 01536 410 333 for information and assistance.