Bees and Bee Problems
Bees and Bee Problems in your home or business
There have been numerous reports recently about bees now being ‘officially endangered’. Is this true? Are Bees On the Endangered List?
On 30 September 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed seven species of yellow-faced bees on Hawaii that should be protected under the endangered species act. This is the first time any bees in the US have been included under the Endangered Species Act.
There’s No Reason to Panic
A closer look at the details of this announcement suggest that it might even be a good thing for pollinators.
The first thing to clarify is that these bees are not honey bees, but seven species of yellow-faced bees. The reason these bees are on the list is not because of colony collapse, but because their habitat is disappearing. Invasive plants and animals have had a detrimental effect on Hawaiian forests. By adding these bees to the endangered list conservationists can start recovery programs, get funding for conservation, and add new habitat protections.
This could actually be good news for honey bees.
Restoring Hawaii’s forests is very likely to have a positive impact on the habitat for honey bees and other native pollinators like bats and butterflies, and should contribute to a decline in colony collapse.
What is Colony collapse?
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is what happens when almost all worker bees disappear from a colony without reason, leaving the queen, a few nurse bees and some immature bees in the hive with plenty of food. Between 2006 and 2013 more than 10 million beehives have been lost in the USA and Europe. This has a knock-on effect on economic losses because agriculture relies on pollination by bees. The reason for this is still subject to speculation and some of the causes being investigated include infections, loss of habitat, changing beekeeping practices and a family of pesticides called neonicotinoids.
Not everyone wants to be a bee keeper!
If you are bothered by bees on your property call PESTUK on 0800 026 0308 for the best advice on removing bees
Removing Wasp or Bee swarms or nests in a chimney can be difficult. Most pest control companies will not tackle these difficult jobs, it can be dangerous, more expensive to insure and takes 2 people with long ladders and roof ladders. In the case of bee swarms it may be that they can be treated using an insecticide smoke from the bottom of the chimney. If the swarm has only recently moved into the chimney this is often successful but we always warn the customer that treatment from the bottom of a chimney is not always successful and some times the only way is to get close from the top to apply the insecticide. We always look at re locating bees but once they enter a chimney this is virtually impossible. If tackled from the top it may be possible to net the top of the chimney to prevent re infestation and cross contamination. This is not possible if there are any gas appliances venting into the chimney.
Regulations do say that a non residual insecticide be used (if removal is not possible) and that treatment should not be carried out near other bee hives and the entrance be blocked. Unfortunately the gas regulations will supersede these as what do you do if gas appliances are venting into the chimney? It is against the law to net such a chimney or block the flue (entrance to the bees nest) in any way and peoples lives come above bees. In these cases PEST UK will carry out an assessment and in most cases treat the bees. Wasp nests are rarely successfully treated from the bottom of a chimney. The reason for this is that where as a bees nest and the bees have a nest that is ‘open’ (it is not enclosed but relies in the cavity itself for protection) a wasp nest has a skin of paper mache type construction that gives some protection against insecticide smokes and small amounts of insecticides. We often recommend that customers try the cheaper treatment from the bottom for a newly arrived bee swarm but rarely for a wasp nest.
Prices for Removing Wasps or Bees in a Chimney
Current price for a chimney treatment is £50.00 + VAT for a one man smoke or insecticide treatment done from the bottom of the chimney or £135.00 + VAT for a 2 man ladder and roof ladder job. In some cases it may be even dearer if a Cherry Picker is required.
For advice or a pest control treatment please phone PEST UK on 0330 100 2811. Alec Minter
Like Bumble Bees, Honey Bees have been making a come back in the past few years. The increase has not been as dramatic as the increase in Bumble Bee nests but they have been increasing. This may be down to the increase in people keeping Honey Bees.
The way new nests are formed is different to that of wasps or Bumble Bees. With Honey Bees the hive will split after the workers produce a new Queen. It is thought they do this when they decide there original Queen needs replacing. Either the new Queen or the old existing Queen then takes a percentage of the hive and leaves in a massive swarm. They then hang in a bush or tree and send scouts out to find a suitable cavity to start a nest. This process normally takes (dependant on weather) about 4 days. Cold or wet weather may prolong this time. While they in the hanging stage a bee keeper can come and collect them and put them in a proper bee hive. The scouts find a cavity then communicate with the Queen and once satisfied she leads the swarm to a cavity where they start a nest. In some cases the Queen may decide that the cavity chosen is not suitable so will move some where else.
The pictures attached so Rick Pellen attempting to remove a Honey Bee swarm from a chimney. This is difficult and in this case Rick had to destroy the swarm with a non residual insecticide to prevent contamination to other bees. If left in a chimney the bees can block the chimney with dire consequences if the chimney has gas appliances venting into it. They will also cause liquids from the nest (including honey) to drip down the chimney or if in a loft stain and/or rot the ceiling. Wasps and other bees may attempt to rob the nest as well as insect and mite parasites feeding on the honey and honeycomb.
During the late 90’s and early 2000’s Bumble Bees were in decline. In the past three years pest control companies have been dealing with an increasing (this year was a record for Bumble Bees at PEST UK) number of Bumble Bee enquiries. I believe that this is due to the White Tailed Bumble Bee filling the space following the decline of other Bumble Bees. This Bumble Bee nests in buildings, especially lofts, which brings them into contact with humans. ‘Normal’ Bumble bees would rarely nest in buildings but use holes in the ground, under sheds or in walls. A few years ago at PEST UK we may see one or two nests in a house but this year there have been hundreds. If the increase continues the amount of Bumble Bee nests in houses will match or outstrip the number od wasp nests. These Bumble Bees do develop earlier than wasps, in fact yesterday Rick Null took a picture of two Bumble Bees mating. This signifies the start of the end of the Bumble Bee Nests. These Bumble Bees mating are Queens and Drones that the nests have produced. The nests will not now produce any more Bumble Bees. The original Queen, Drones and workers (the workers are sterile females) will die of old age, the newly mated Queens will survive, hibernate and then start a new nest in the Spring of the following year.
There is nothing reported about the rise of the Bumble Bee. You always hear about bees dying out but never a ‘good news’ story such as this that reports an increase in Bumble bees. We have also noticed an increase in Honey Bees. This may be to do with the fact that many more people are keeping bees.
Most of the calls we are getting at the moment are for bees. The warm weather had meant an influx of jobs, the majority of them being bees. For the first time this year we took over 25 jobs (yesterday) in a day.All of the wasp nest reported have been Mason Bees except for one customer who wanted some old wasp nests removed from their loft.
Mason Bees are the first bees to nest, where as Bumble Bees follow the same life cycle as wasps (where the only fertile female is the Queen who lays all the eggs), with the Mason and a similar species the Mining Bee, all the females are fertile and all lay eggs. Both females will find a hole and expand it or fig a hole in the ground (as in the case of Mining Bees) or as the name suggests, in masonry or soft cement as does the Mason Bee. I have seen what appears to be extensive damage to mortar in houses where Mason Bees have made holes to lay eggs. They will only use very soft motor to do this and so will only use mortar that should be replaced anyway. The female bees lay an egg in the hole, pack it with pollen then seals the hole with mud. The grub hatches out eats the pollen and turns into an adult bee the cycle then continues. Mainly seen in the Spring but some years generations may appear into the late Summer.
The question people ask is: Can they sting? Mason and Mining Bees are equipped with a sting but I or any other pest controller I know has been stung by a Mason or Mining Bee.
Yesterday we also had 2 call outs for honey bees in chimneys. These nests are hard to deal with as we have to be careful of contaminating other bees if treated with an insecticide. We do this by using a non residual insecticide, blocking up holes after treatment (we have to be careful when doing this incase bees find there way inside a building) and checking there are no bee hives nearby.
In the Spring most pest controllers are keeping an eye on the weather. Long periods of wet, cold and windy weather lead to the two biggest earners in pest control (Bees and Wasps) being decimated. At present we are seeing a lot of Queen Bumble Bees flying about. These are the first to emerge from hibernation and are the most hardy. The Spring weather so far has not had a detrimental affect on the wasps and bees but what happens now to early May will make a massive difference. The wasp effect is really the most dramatic as these insects cause the most annoyance to humans. They will feed on fruit (and destroy) in the Autumn, they cause a nuisance whenever people are eating outside, driving with windows open, doing sports outside even sleeping with windows open in the Summer can lead to people getting stung in years when the wasp populations are high. Every year people die because of reactions to wasp and bee stings. Most bee stings are ‘accidental’ or where bees think there is a danger to the nest where as wasp. So the weather has a dramatic effect on peoples lives and life style later on in the year.
The monetary effect for pest control companies can be massive. In July 2011 at PEST UK we were treating between 70 and 100 wasps nests a day but in July 2012 we were averaging 10 per day. Some companies have been set up only to do wasp nest treatments. These are the companies that suffer the most. The other monetary effect is fruit damage. Wasps can ruin all types of fruits. This happens when the wasp nests stop producing more grubs so the worker wasps (these are sterile females) stop having to collect high protein foods such as caterpillars, flies and other insects and start feeding on fruits. They also have more time to do this as they are not spending time hunting, repairing the nest or expanding it as the nest function has now stopped. This happens in late Summer.
Sewer Valves, Wasps & Bees:
One of the questions we get asked at PEST UK concerning rat infestations in houses is:
- Where are they getting in?
- How do I stop them in the future?
If the house is part of a terrace or a block then this makes finding the entry point(s) difficult. Rats may be getting into the structure of the building some way to the place they are causing problems. The may be travelling though cavity walls and emerging in a loft space or a kitchen. The entry points are easier to detect if they are above ground. The pest technician will always be trying to locate the food source of a rat infestation. This may be bird feeding, refuse or droppings/food from other animals. This factor is the most important when dealing with a rat infestation. If this item is not dealt with then control of the rat problem will either not be successful or soon re establish itself.
The only exception to this would be if the rats are coming from a broken sewer. Sewers have rats, especially the older systems where rats can burrow into the sides of the sewer using the spaces left by broken bricks. Rats that live in sewers are not a separate species in this country (except in some ports) all rats are the Brown or Norway Rat. If the rats are getting into the house via the sewer then action is needed. Initially bait the sewer will help but not solve the problem.
If the repairs are deemed too expensive then long term baiting may be an option. A camera survey may be needed to find out where the breach is so it can be repaired. Repairs to sewers can cost thousands of pounds. A cheaper alternative is to insert a one way sewer valve into the sewer where the sewer pipe leaves the house and enters the main system. In older systems there may be several sewer exits that need to have valves fitted and more in an older terrace type building. These valves are like a one way cat flap that allow sewage to flow out but then shut so that rats cannot go any further up the system and into the house.
Queen Wasps & Bumble Bees
The mild weather of this February has lead to many more enquiries
requiring Queen Wasps and Bumble Bees than we would normally expect at this time of year.
Rats BPCA Advice
Hibernating Wasps & Bees:
Soon PEST UK will be selling more pest control products to the public. We don’t really like to do this as we believe that, in most cases it is better that pest control is left to professionally trained people. The reason for this is that we see many so many DIY attempts at pest control where poisons or traps have been incorrectly used, which can lead to extreme suffering for the targeted animal and/or non target species being accidentally poisoned, killed or injured in traps. The problem is that most pest control products can be bought (sometimes not legally) over the internet.
If you do want to attempt your own pest control, then please buy your products from an expert. The products we sell are all safe for DIY use and we will give advice on how they should be used to get the best result, and protect family and pets. We always recommend that the treatments should be carried out by a qualified person.
More Queen Bumble Bees have been seen over the weekend. Yesterday’s (Sunday) sunshine has brought them out. Really for our point of view it would be good to have three to four weeks of cold weather to keep the Queen Wasps and Queen Bumble Bees in hibernation until the Spring proper. If they come out of hibernation too early then the likelihood of them building nests that survive until the Summer are much reduced. Colder weather will also increase the number of rodent related calls.
In the British Pest Control News recently, there was an article about the danger in certain conditions of Cluster Flies enervating tall buildings in their hundreds of thousands and apart from the nuisance value there can also be dreadful smells from rotting fly bodies. PEST UK has seen a similar situation on a tower block in Bracknell. We treat this building every year and the volume of flies is amazing to see.
Bees & Wasps in Lofts:
On Saturday I saw a Queen Bumble Bee flying about at Tilehurst Station. This is very early even for Bumble Bees and not good news for Bumble Bees unless the weather stays mild and the rain stops! The daly emergence from hibernate is often triggered by lid weather. Temperature is not the only factor as daylight length also has a part to play but when insects hibernate in places where there is artificial light (in a building) then temperature might play a more important role. Coming out too early can lead to problems for Queen Wasps and Bumble Bees. With Queen Wasps over 99% of the hibernating population will die before making a successful nest that includes workers and on to rearing next years Queens. most will die. Most will never reach the stage where workers are produced. The reason is that they are trying to feed, build a nest, lay eggs, rear & feed grubs and maintain the nest all in weather that may be cold, windy and wet, in fact typical British Spring weather. I believe the percentage of Queen Bumble Bee Queens mortality is probable a lot less than Queen Wasps. The reasons are that where as up to a 1000 Queen Wasps are produced by a wasp nest, Bumble Bee nests may only produce a dozen or so depending on species. Queen Bumble Bees are also more suited to cold weather. They generally emerge earlier than Queen Wasps and some species even live beyond the Arctic Circle, feeding on the Arctic flowers that thrive during the Summer.
Already at PEST UK we have had calls from people complaining about wasps in the loft and have ‘fogged’ the loft with an insecticide which will not eliminate the wasp problem completely but reduces it dramatically. The problems with treating Queen Wasps in this type of situation is that when cold the metabolism of the insects is slow so they take time to absorb insecticide and of course some Queen Wasps will be hibernating in areas untouched by insecticide such as deep in the soffats, behind roofing felt to under insulation.
Bed Bugs & Multiple Occupancy Premises:
I have just booked up a Bed Bug job for a multiple occupancy house in Reading, Berkshire. There are five occupied bed sit type rooms. We have treated this house several times for Bed Bugs before, twice in November 2011, twice in February 2013 and once in September 2013. There are several problems when dealing with pest problems and especially bed Bugs in multiple occupancy houses. The first is the size of the rooms. Any Bed Bugs in the furniture have a shorter distance to travel to the host and so cross less insecticide from the treated surfaces. The treated surfaces are subject to more use in a smaller room meaning that the insecticide degrades more quickly. Another problem is preparation. Unless the preparation is done properly then treatments will fail and these types of dwellings have less room for the occupants to remove and prep there belonging prior to treatments. Treating Bed Bugs successfully is not a simple matter as say treating a wasp or removing a bees nest or any other forms of Pest Control. In this case the reason they require repeat treatments is for several reasons: new people are moving in and out of the rooms and may be bring infested belongings with them and also that on all visits we have never been able to access all five rooms on the same visit. The other problem is whenever we get access the preparation has never been done to an acceptable standard in all the rooms. Bed Bugs will spread from room to room especially if the infestation is heavy or the room is unoccupied for a long period of time and the Bed Bugs may look for an alliterative food supply. Today when I was contacting the occupants one of the persons said the treatment had worked and that they had had no Bed Bug problems since the last treatment in September 2013.
A Pest Control Contract is not expensive. Not only will it protect the health and safety of your employees, it will also protect your reputation. Most prosecutions happen to smaller companies. Remove the worry and leave pest control in the hands of experts.
If you are regularly experiencing pest problems, maybe a Pest Control Contract is better. That peace-of-mind knowing that there is an expert team just a phone call away!
Take a look at our Pest Control Contract page, or call us now on 0800-026-0308