Mr Bee

There are over 250 kinds of bees in Britain. The honey bee and bumble bees live in colonies and belong to a group known as the social bees, but the majority of other species do not live in colonies and are solitary bees.

Solitary bees

Solitary bees are to be found in many gardens during Spring and Summer but go largely unobserved. Common species include the masonry, mining and leaf cutter bees.

Masonry bees

The female is often seen constructing a tiny tunnel in a wall normally in the pointing between the bricks where she lays a single egg.


There is no treatment, the only answer is to repoint the area after the new adult bee emerges. Solitary bees do not swarm and are unlikely to sting unless they are handled or their nest disturbed.

Honey bees

They are brown and yellow in colour and smaller than the bumble bee. They are the species kept by man in hives from which honey and wax are made. The numbers can vary in a colony from 40 - 50,000 at the height of the season (July). Those born at the end of Summer however survive the Winter living on stored honey.

Bumble bees

bumble bee.jpg

Larger and rounder than honey bees and often produce a deep buzzing sound. Bumble bees build small round grass nests, often under buildings or in holes in the ground. They do not swarm nor do they sting unless the nest is disturbed. If at all possible, bumble bee nests should be left undisturbed for at the end of the Summer all bees except the queen will die and the nest abandoned.

NB: The Council do not provide a service to destroy bees nests but will give you the name of a private contractor who will provide a service.  Please note that this Council does not recommend contractors, but is merely giving an example of a local service provider.  Ensure that you obtain a quote for the costs of the works before proceeding. 

For further information and guidance on dealing with Bumble bees visit the Bumblebee Conservation Trust


If a hive is overcrowded, bees may emerge in a dense cloud and headed by the queen, settle on a branch or tree. If left, scout bees will eventually find a sheltered situation and start a new colony.

For more information on swarms contact the British Bee Keepers Association 

Once on the website click onto the 'Help' tab and click on the link 'do you have a swarm' you can then input your postcode to find your local swarm collector.

Alternatively you could contact Honey Bee Swarm Rescue on 0800 093 4336  

Date of last review: 25 April 2016