Honey Bees In Bristol
Are UK Honey Bees Protected By Law?
Not in the UK. In our opinion, Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) control and removal of Bees nests and colonies should be formally regulated to protect them.
Effective pest control inspections provide the best way forward and a chance to plan the safest methods of removal or control.
Species of bee people commonly confuse with honey bees include solitary bees like mining bees and masonry bees or even colonies of bumblebees!
Why Do Some Honey Bees Get Killed?
Not everyone likes honey bees. Those who suffer from both phobias and Anaphylactic shock from bee stings, including adults and young children, need to be protected.
In most cases, the bees disembark before we would even consider control. They also get collected and re-homed in hives throughout your local countryside.
We have come to realise that where we don’t control the final 5% safely and sensitively, there are plenty of inappropriate chemicals that amateurs can purchase to kill the bees themselves.
This poses a greater risk to others and often contaminates surrounding hives, causing untold damage to local bee populations.
For us, we must stress control is always a last resort. It requires householder consent and written instruction during the inspection visit before we carry out any treatment.
How Dangerous Are Honey Bees?
The type of Honey bees we have in the UK have a barbed sting. Barbed stingers make angry bees a formidable force of nature, just like wasps or hornets. They are often only aggressive when threatened, disturbed and protecting brood within a hive.
A compact, settled swarm in a shrub or on a fence post won’t be protecting any brood and unlikely to attack if left alone.
Unsettled, fragmented swarms with lots of frantic activity across a broad area will be more dangerous. It could mean the queen has perished!
What’s needed is a visit from one of our experts. Very often, by the time we get to you, the swarm has flown off, or we will provide details of a trusted beekeeper.
Dangers Of Honey Bee Stings
Honey bee venom is not pleasant! If you’ve been stung, you need to try and remove the sting. You do this by scraping it off with a nail or credit card as soon as possible.
We all react differently to stings, and most people have no reaction to stings. People with a severe sting allergy called Anaphylactic Shock could die, so always be vigilant.
What should you do if a honey bee stings you?
How Many Bees Are In A Swarm?
Most honey bee swarms will contain between 10000 and 30000 bees. That said, swarms with numbers of an estimated 100000 are not unheard of.
By contrast, most wasps nests contain just 10% of the number of bees held in a mature honey bee colony.
Why Do Bees Swarm?
Honey bees swarm when a new queen bee emerges from a queen cell in the hive. One of the first tasks of a new queen is to kill the old queen!
When the old queen realises her days are numbered, she abandons the colony. Many of the worker bees already in the hive go with her, while some remain with the new queen.
Where Do Honey Bee Swarms Go?
Honey bee swarms will move from one place to another while scout bees search for a suitable new home. Favoured locations include wall cavities, hollows in trees and peoples chimneys.
The lucky ones will be intercepted by experienced beekeepers and re-hived.
What Honey Bees Live In Bristol?
The Dark European Honey Bee – Apis mellifera
This bee is often referred to as the UK’s only living, native Honeybee, making it incredibly important and special.
It was believed to have been imported by humans into the UK more than 1500 years ago.
This theory of human importation conflicts with other suggestions. Suggestions that black bees were here long before the land bridge or Doggerland between the UK and the continent finally disappeared beneath the waves around 10000 years ago.
Why Were Bees Imported Into The UK?
At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was thought native dark or black bees were in perpetual decline. Introducing bees from as far away as Italy and New Zealand tried to halt this extinction that never came.
The reason behind the potential collapse of bee populations was determined at the time as the “Isle Of White Disease”.
It prompted a huge government-backed restocking drive between 1906 and 1918 to preserve the nations honey production.
This theory has since been challenged, and black or bees with darker colouration are becoming much more common. By contrast, the lighter coloured Italian bees are now becoming scarcer.
Black bees have three advantages over other honey bees. They are a joy to work with, produce lots of honey and uniquely adapted to our climate.
Are Honey Bees Really In Decline?
Much as we see today, experts are sometimes at odds with beekeepers and vice versa over how grave or enduring population collapse is.
We have spoken to many beekeepers over the years, and one thing is clear. Bee numbers vary massively between locations just a few miles apart. The disparity is rife!
Pest control might not be the first place you would expect to find people interested in the seasons and natures rise and fall, but we see very clearly, each year, what insects are thriving or declining.
Our businesses depend on our ability to predict what creatures will thrive so we can prepare and market to customers ahead of time.
Honey Bee Decline and Climate
During the period between 2008 and 2013, we noticed a steep decline in many insects due to climate.
2009 delivered (the big freeze), cementing in place a problematic start for insects in 2010. But insects were resilient, and nature rebounding more quickly than anticipated.
In 2010 Bristol froze under a blanket of snow, and temperatures dropped 18°C degrees to -7°C in just nine days. This decimated insects with too little time to hibernate.
2011 was the coldest summer on record. We hoped that insects would have a chance to bounce back, just as they had the previous year. Insects require warmth to develop at optimum levels, and the summer of 2011 never happened!
2012 was the wettest on record. Pouring yet more low temperatures on wildlife hit again and again. This made 2012 a tougher year for insects and for us.
2013 was the year of the storms! The year started cold, which is never great for insects, but honey bees did well in the summer before facing stormy autumn and winter conditions.
This is why bees, butterflies and other insects were struggling.
Pesticides, climate change, environmental damage, government policy and Asian hornets might be other reasons. We like to work with what we see and not just what we read.
2014 to 2019 were all good recovery years, but in the spring and summer of 2020, we think we have seen a decline in honey bees!
Let’s hope this is not the case! We will watch closely over the winter months and hope the spring of 2021 brings a good recovery in beehive health and bee abundance.
Learn more about honey bee swarms.