Bees

Honey bee
Bumble bee
Mason bee/Mining bee

Honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Honeybee Control in SheffieldThe Honey bee is unique by the fact that it is probably the only insect species to have become a true domestic animal. Bee hives were common in Egypt some 5,000 years ago. The nest of the Honey bee has the reputation of being the most perfectly organised state known among insects. It is ruled by a single queen. the mother of all the occupants of the hive.

Description

A typical honey bee colony is made up of one queen, thousands of workers, and a few hundred drones. A colony of honey bees can number up to 80,000, all the residents having defined duties. The queen lays the eggs. The workers, which live only a short time, perform different tasks. In the first phase of their life they keep the nest clean, and subsequently feed and help rear the young grubs. They are also kept busy building the regular hexagonal cells of the comb from wax produced by their wax glands; they also concentrate nectar and fill the cells with pollen. When they have completed these tasks they act for a short time as guards. The last phase of their life is spent collecting pollen and nectar. The hive only contains males (drones) in spring and early summer, their sole function being to fertilise the new queens. The queen measures 16-20mm. The workers 12-15mm and the males 14-18mm. The honey bees body is golden brown and black in colour with pale orange/yellow rings on the abdomen.

Life cycle

Bees develop from the eggs laid by the queen . During the mating the drone places semen inside the queen's body. The queen stores the sperm in a sac in her abdomen. If the queen releases sperm onto a egg, the egg hatches into a worker. If she does not release sperm it develops into a drone. Honey bee eggs are pearly white and about as big as the head of a pin. Development starts as soon as the eggs are laid. After about three days the tiny larva crawls out of the egg. The workers provide the growing larva with a rich creamy substance called Royal Jelly which is rich in vitamins and proteins. This is formed by glands in the head of the young worker bees. When the larva is three days old, the workers begin to feed it a mixture of honey and pollen called beebread. The workers place a wax cap over the cell containing the larvae about one week after it hatches from the egg. In the cell the larvae becomes a pupae and develops into an adult. The adult worker bee bites its way out of the cell about 21 days after the egg is laid. Drones take about 24 days to develop...

Reason for control

Honey bees are a very beneficial insect in our environment and only occasionally does their presence constitute a pest problem. Most professional pest control companies are reluctant to use pesticides on bees nests unless absolutely necessary. Occasionally however there are no alternatives; i.e. where their presence may cause a risk to health and welfare.) Swarming bees may also cause a serious health risk when present in large numbers. Where honey bees do become a problem our advice is consult a beekeeper first to see if they can offer an alternative to destruction.

Control measures

Honey bees are very susceptible to insecticides, where individual bees are a problem, an aerosol insecticide should prove sufficient for controlling the odd nuisance bee. Dealing with more serious problems like nests, swarms etc, should be left to the experts. Because honey bees survive winter conditions active nests will continue to expand from one year to the next. Their presence in places like chimney stacks, roof voids and cavities can cause many problems, such as blockages in flues, and severe staining to the fabric and plasterwork of buildings. Where nests are treated with insecticides, it is important that as much of the nest is removed as possible following the treatment, and measures should be taken to prevent any non-target foraging honey bees from entering the nesting site and taking away any contaminated honey. Failure to do this may lead to contamination of honey destined for food use, serious bee kills, and destruction of hives.

Bumble bee (Bombus lapidarius)

Bumblebee Pest Removal RotherhamUnlike the Honey bee, in which the whole colony survives the winter, a bumble bee colony only lasts for a single season . This means that all the workers die in the autumn, so that only a few young mated queens survive and spend the winter in hibernation. After honey bees, bumble bees are the second most important pollinators. They are irreplaceable for the pollination of trumpet shaped flowers, for which honey bees have too short a proboscis.

Description

Bumble bees are big, fuzzy insects recognised easily by their robust shape and black and yellow colouration. The most common species are around 20mm in length or more. Like honey bees, bumble bees live in a colony, adults and larvae all being the offspring of one single queen. Bumble bees nests are much smaller than that of the honey bee, the nest containing only a few hundred bees is abandoned at the end of the summer. Bumble bees usually nest in the ground, sometimes in vacated mouse nests or among rubbish in huts and outbuildings, and also in wall cavities.

Life cycle

In spring the queen awakes from hibernation and goes in search of a nest site, once a suitable location has been found she will line the existing cavity with dry grass or moss. She then starts to collect pollen and nectar to produce "beebread" which she stores to feed to her young. The queen will then produce her first brood of around 15-20 in number, these being workers (female). Once reared they will then take on the duties of collecting food, rearing the young and enlarging the nest. The queen will continue to lay eggs throughout the summer. The actual adult size of each bee is dependent on the amount of food available during the larval stage (This being the reason why bumble bees seem to get bigger as the summer progresses.) In late summer, reproductive males and females are reared, once mating as occurred the males die along with the workers of the colony. only the new fertilised queens survive, hibernating through winter in dry sheltered location.

Reason for control

Like the honey bee, the bumble bee is a very beneficial insect in our environment. Occasionally the location of the nesting site may mean some action has to be taken. Nests in the garden, outbuildings and cavity walls, may create constant traffic to and from the nest at the height of summer. Bumble bees normally only sting when provoked, or if they consider their colony to be under threat, however, caution should be taken at all times, bumble bees can sting, and when they do it can be extremely painful - take a tip from someone who has experienced it !

Control measures

Bumble bees are not the easiest insects to control with insecticides, they are indeed very robust creatures and may survive a number of methods used to eradicate their presence. The bumble bees rather thick fur covering helps in protecting it from contact dusts, and may also help reduce the effectiveness of insecticidal sprays which are sometimes used to treat the nesting site. A professional treatment is by far the safest and most effective way of controlling these insects. Insecticides used on nests should specific to the problem, and used only in accordance with the manufactures instructions. Care at all times should be employed !

Mason bee / Mining bee

Mining Bee Pest Control Coal AstonThere are several hundred species of different solitary bees, these all play an important role as pollinators. Most of them look very similar in appearance and are not easy to identify. Solitary bees live alone. But sometimes thousands of solitary bees gather in a small area and build their nests together. There are no workers among solitary bees. In early spring the Mason bee can be seen on many flowers. It nests in holes and cracks in wood, stonework and defective masonry. the female divides the nest into chambers, and in each one places a pile of kneaded pollen and nectar, she then lays her eggs and seals up the hole then flies away. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat the stored food and bite their way out. On sandy slopes, and on soft soil during the spring and summer season you may come across small holes with small bees coming out of them from time to time. The holes lead to the nest of the Mining bee (picture right). The foundations of the nest are laid by fertilised females. The bees use the same hole for entering and leaving the nest. The entrance hole opens into a narrow passage about 70cm long; this leads to a chamber containing the cells of the nest in which the young are reared.

Created by DS Creative