BEES, WASPS AND HORNETS SPECIES

There may be hundreds of species of bees, wasps, and hornets found around the world. Only a few of these are seen as natural pests here in the United Kingdom, and some of them do not sting. Some species, like the Honey Bee, are a valuable part of our ecosystem. Understanding their habits, lifecycle, and appearance can help identify the best form of wasp control for your home or business.

See our list below of common species in the United Kingdom.

Honey Bee

(Apis Mellifera)

Honey bees are the species kept by Bee Keepers.

If you have a problem with honey bees, contact a local Bee Keeper or Environmental Health Department as they will be able to arrange for the swarm to be relocated.

honey bee

Key Facts

  • They live in hollow trees or chimneys, wall cavities or roof spaces.
  • They are similar in size to wasps but are furrier and mostly black.
  • Honey bees convert nectar into honey and beeswax.
  • A honey bee swarm will arrive in flight and cluster on a tree branch.
  • A colony size can often be more significant than 30,000 individual honey bees.
  • Population under threat from varroa mite.

Solitary Bee

(Osmia rufa)

solitary bee

Appearance

  • Often similar to the honey bee.

Lifecycle

  • Colony size – small nests which are individually tended by a female.
  • Preferred nest sites – often in soil, sometimes in soft cement and mortar between bricks.
  • Nest construction – various materials. Usually, a new nest each year.

Habits

  • Swarming – does not swarm.
  • Overwintering – usually in the pupal stage within the nest.
  • Food preferences – honey and pollen.
  • Rarely stings.

Carpenter Bees

(Xylocopa virginica)

carpenter bee

Appearance

  • 3/4 – 1 inch long.
  • Female faces are black; male faces are yellow.
  • Bright yellow, orange or white hairs on the thorax.
  • No hair on the abdomen.
  • Females have a stinger; males do not.

Lifecycle

  • Tunnel into the wood to lay eggs.
  • The life cycle from the egg – larva – pupa – adult takes approximately seven weeks.
  • The larva is large and noisy.
  • New adults emerge from the nest in late August.

Habits

  • Sting – Only sting if provoked.
  • Visibility – Late spring to mid-October.
  • Nesting – Bare, untreated softwoods are preferred, including redwood, cedar, cypress and pine. Old nests are used year after year.
  • Location – Nests can be found in eaves, window trims, facia boards, siding, decks and outdoor furniture.
  • Feeding – flowers that contain pollen, e.g. Bradfords, Daffodils, Pansies. Pollen stored in abandoned tunnels for overwintering.

Bumble Bee

(Bombus sp.)

Bumblebees are often confused with honey bees.

bumble bee

Key Facts

  • They are larger and furrier than honey bees.
  • Dark coloured except for golden stripes across the end of their tails.
  • Bumblebees nest in small wall cavities, holes in the ground, under sheds or in undisturbed compost heaps.

Yellow Jackets (Social Wasp)

(Vespula)

yellow jacket

Appearance

  • Worker – 1/2 inch long.
  • Queen – 3/4 inch long.
  • Alternating black and yellow bands.
  • Two sets of wings.
  • Narrow waist.
  • Lance-like stinger.

Lifecycle

  • Annual colonies.
  • Queen begins to nest in Spring.
  • Aggressive numbers in late Summer.
  • Colonies begin to decline by Fall.
  • Only inseminated Queen’s nest over Winter.

Habits

  • Feeding – at certain times of the year, feed on insects, including caterpillars / harmful flies; as colonies increase, they are attracted to food consumed by humans.
  • Sting – sting repeatedly, will sting if provoked with symptoms range from swelling to life-threatening allergic shock.
  • Visibility – visible during the day as they don’t see well at night.
  • Nesting – in trees/shrubs, or internally in attics, hollow walls/ flooring, sheds, under porches/eaves of buildings.