Encourage the BUMBLE BEE
Picture - White-tailed bumblebee - Bombus lucorum
There are many species of BUMBLE BEE in the UK, with 8 species being the most common. When you think of bees, it is the image of a bumble bees that comes to mind - round, furry, and rolling along from blossom to blossom gathering nectar and pollen. They are rarely aggressive - only when threatened.
Given encouragement and plenty good forage, the bumble bee will repay your kindness by pollinating your flowers, fruit and vegetables and giving you an excellent set on your blossom (click on the 'PLANTS' link above for suggestions.)
You can find out all you need to know about bumble bees by visiting the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website where you can upload images of bumblebees that you have seen and check your identification.
The Tree Bumblebee - Bombus hypnorum
Picture - Tree Bumblebee - Bombus hypnorum
These have a black head, brown-ginger thorax, black abdomen and a white tail. It is a fairly recent arrival in the UK but has spread quickly. As its common name suggests, the queen prefers to nest above ground and they are often found in bird boxes. She raises her brood and later in the season virgin queens will emerge. Large numbers of drones congregate outside a tree bumblebee nest waiting for the young queens coming out for mating flights and this can easily be confused with a swarm of honeybees.
Bumble bees never swarm
Picture - Inside a bumble bee nest
Because they live in small nests, they do not need to move home so you can encourage a nest or two in the garden without fear of this happening.
Bumble bees are not aggressive and they will not attack a human unless their life is under threat. Drones (smaller male bees) hatch in mid summer and the sudden increase in bee numbers can frighten people who are nervous about insects; but drone bees have no sting.
Enemies of the Bumble Bee
A bumble bee's biggest enemy by far is a man armed with a pesticide spray. Like every other form of wildlife they are under serious threat from the chemicals we pour on the land. Two species have recently become extinct in the UK.
If you find a nest, try not to disturb it. If it is in an awkward place try to put up with it for a few weeks. It will die out with the first frosts and can then be safely removed .
If you want to help the bees let the lawn grow a little longer around the nest area.
Click the pictures -
 
SWARMS and PEST CONTOL - What to do?
 
HONEYBEES - A honeybee swarm is distinctive
 
BUMBLE BEES - nesting in nooks and crannies
 
WASPS - large papery nests
 
HORNETS - like wasps but much larger
 
SOLITARY BEES - the lone bees that pollinate