More information about tree bumblebees

Over the past month Pest Solution have experienced a high volume of enquiries regarding bees, particularly tree bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum). Tree bumblebees were first spotted in the UK in 2001 in Wiltshire and have since spread very rapidly across the UK. In 2013 they had reached Scotland and in 2017 they were found for the first time in Ireland.

What are tree bumblebees?

Tree bumblebees are one of the earliest bumblebee species to emerge in spring with the queens starting a new nest in March/April in the UK. They form small colonies with less than 400 individuals in the nest. This is considerable smaller than honeybee colonies that are frequently tens of thousands strong. The colony dies out towards the end of July or early August. They most commonly build their nests 1-2m off the ground and they can frequently be found inhabiting unused bird boxes. Sometimes, if the nest is within a wall cavity, they can be heard within the nest from inside the house.

Due to the short season and the small colony size, tree bumblebees are not known to damage to buildings. They are also remarkably docile and very unlikely to sting unless they see you as a threat. Therefore, in most situations tree bumblebees are not regarded as a pest species.

What to do if you have tree bumblebees?

There are three options if you have tree bumblebees on your property.

  1. Leave them alone – Since bumblebees are beneficially to the environment and unlikely to sting, we would always recommend that bumblebees are left alone. Most clients are happy to keep their tree bumblebees once they understand that there is little risk and they will be gone by end of July. They do not reuse a nest in following years.
  2. Relocate the nest – If the nest is accessible, it can be relocated. The relocation can be within your garden or to a different location. Graham, the managing director of Pest Solution, has relocated three tree bumble colonies in bird boxes in his own garden so far this season.
  3. Eradication – This is the last resort if all other options are not possible, usually if the nest is in an inaccessible location or there is a risk to human health.

Pest Solution is committed to using the least toxic method of control. Our aim is to minimise the quantities of pesticides used and provide customers with targeted non-toxic options wherever possible. We will always seek to solve any bee enquiries without the use of pesticides if possible.

If you would like more information about bees, get in touch with Pest Solution’s friendly and knowledgeable staff by clicking here.

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