Honey Bee Identification
For most people its not normal to need to carry out bee identification, to know the difference between a bee and a wasp or a bee and a hover fly, or a honey bee and a bumble bee.
But if you find yourself with what may be a honey bee nest in your property you may find the following information useful.
In early spring we are often contacted about male hairy footed flower bees (Anthophora Plumipes) that have dropped down the chimney flue and can be found making their way to the nearest window.
These are followed shortly after by white-tailed bumblebees (Bombus Lucorum) & buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus Terrestris) usually seen around soffits.
Leaf cutting bees are often seen entering and exiting air bricks typically around May.
Between May and August we are often contacted about bees which are in fact native bumble bees, nesting in compost heaps or under peoples decks, they are the larger furry species and are best left alone, they die back in winter.
Tree bumbles (Bombus Hypnorum) are seen from spring to late autumn (a relatively recent arrival to this country but found all over these days). The gathering of drone (male) Tree bumblebees around a Tree bumblebee nest entrance is often incorrectly confused as a mini honey bee swarm.
Wasps are often mistaken as being honey bees, but can easily be distinguished by there bright well defined yellow & black stripes and their direct flight paths.
Rarely do people mistake hornets for honey bees, probably because they are so much bigger.
We also receive an enormous number of enquiries about Tree bumblebees.
A recent import from Europe, whose success has been staggering (probably at the expense of something native). It seems that every year we receive more and more calls about these. Our recommendation with these is to remove and relocate the nest; only where they can not be accessed should the use of insecticide be considered, and only for Tree bumblebees not for any of the native bumblebees and solitary bee & wasps.
Honey bee swarms
If you see a swarm of bees hanging on a tree or bush they are actually waiting for scout bees to report back with news of a permanent home, and will often leave in a few hours or days, they are unlikely to be aggressive if left undisturbed.
We recommend contacting your local bee keeping association swarm liaison officer as these need to be picked up before they become an expensive problem in yours or somebody else’s property.
Below are some images to help you distinguish between bees, wasps and hornets.
Wasps and hornets
Wasps and hornets do not collect pollen so won’t be seen taking it back to their nest attached to the back of their legs like a honey bee does as seen in the image at the top of the page ~ only honey bees do that.
So if you see yellow or white lumps on the legs this will help in identifying them as honey bees.
On the other hand wasps are often seen carrying grubs back to a wasp nest either in their mandibles or between their legs.
Wasps are usually a little bit larger than honey bees and are commonly found pests at picnics and outdoor catering areas.
Wasps and hornets are omnivores and will eat both your sandwich and drink your pop.
Wasps will nest in a variety of locations, they can be found nesting in the ground, garden sheds, thick bushes attic spaces and the list goes on.
At the end of summer as the nest is dying they tend to become more aggressive as food for the workers is no longer produced by the larvae in the nest, and sting more frequently.
The biggest separator in bee identification is that wasps have bright yellow stripes whereas honey bees have dull banding this helps a lot to separate the two in bee identification.
Bumble Bee Identification
- Bumble bees are the gentle giant fuzzy bees. They are very docile and not inclined to sting.
- They make small wax pots to store small quantities of nectar. They primarily nest underground but can be found in buildings as well.
- They help to pollinate the flowers in the garden and do not cause problems.
- Bumble bees collect pollen and attach it to their back legs, in the same way that honey bees do.
- Bumble bees are specialist pollinators and important to the natural cycle that puts food on our tables.
Other Types of Bee
Below is a picture of a Mason bee on the left and a Mining bee to the right
The Honey Bee
Solitary bee identification
If you have solitary ground bees in your garden then really you are one of the fortunate ones as they are wonderful pollinators and important to the natural cycle helping to provide us all with the food on our tables.
Honey Bee Swarm Removal and Rehoming
Most local swarm collectors will collect your honey bee swarm free of charge or for a small donation to cover the cost of fuel and to assist in the relocation and feeding of the bees.
However if the beekeeper is unable to assist then we can help, we specialise in resolving the bee relocation problems that others can’t.
Our honey bee relocation Specialist is waiting for you!
Swarmcatcher are the UK honey bee colony removal specialists that provide an ethical eco-friendly bee removal and relocation service across the UK.
For further information on bee removal and relocation please use the contact form in the side bar or message button below, or CALL 01297 441272 to speak to someone local who knows all about it.
If you are looking for information on removing bees from a chimney check out our article ‘Honey bees in chimney‘, or if you repeatedly have bee swarms take up home in your chimney you may want to look at our page ‘Why honey bees like chimneys‘ & ‘Everything you need to consider when removing bees in a chimney‘ which is a fairly extensive overview.
For examples on removals of honey bees from these and other more unusual places check thru our blog page Honey Bee Removal Blog and investigate our Tag cloud too.
Don’t forget a general overview on honey bee removals which can be found at ‘Live honey bee removal‘.