Providers of honey and almost universally viewed with affection by the public, honey bees are one of the most well known insects. Many species of bee are found in the United Kingdom. Some produce honey, some do not. Some live in highly organised colonies, some on their own. Some sting, some do not.
Bees rarely present problems as pests. However, feral swarms can set up home in undesirable places such as chimneys and wall cavities. Bee keepers may be reluctant to take such swarms due to a parasitic mite which many swarms carry. Control may, therefore, be necessary. Bees are not protected and control is best left to professionals; honey bees have a barbed sting and die once they have used this.
They will sting when provoked. Attempts to kill them will provoke them.
Once the nest has been killed, efforts must be made to remove it or seal it in.
The honey within it will attract bees from other hives which may then themselves be poisoned, as well as their nests, by the pesticides used. Insects and mites will also thrive on the honey and dead grubs within the nest and may cause problems.
Masonry bees may occasionally cause problems. Unlike honey bees these are solitary insects. They nest in a wide range of cavities some of which they excavate themselves. The nest is constructed of sand grains and other particles glued together with saliva.
Masonry bees are normally harmless, their sting seemingly unable to penetrate human skin. On occasions though they can present a problem due to their ability to build nests by tunnelling through soft brick mortar, generally in older properties.
Only rarely do large numbers occur together but due to the fact that vulnerable buildings tend to be repeatedly attacked, quite severe damage can occur over several seasons. Modern houses are not immune either.
Small gaps left in otherwise sound mortar may be colonised. Although this is not a problem from a structural point of view, some householders are distressed by such activity.
In the long term, re-pointing with sound mortar is the only answer. This must be thorough however, as bees hunting for a nest site will soon locate areas that have been missed. Small individual holes are easily filled.
Treatment with insecticides is not normally necessary but where damage is serious or great distress is being caused, insecticides can be used. Application of an insecticide to the entry hole will quickly kill the occupants.