Honey Bees in Chimneys
In Bees and Bee Problems, Pests, Pests in Spring, Pests in Summer, Wasps
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.