The Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

We are in early June 2014 and the number of call outs regarding the new ‘tree bumblebee‘ has surprised us all within the pest control industry.

Normally at this time of year we receive a lot of calls for honey bee swarms, bumblebees and masonry bees but this year has been the complete opposite. Since March we have been inundated with calls for these aggressive bees nesting under roof around residential properties in the county.

Tree Bumblebees look like any normal bumble but have a distinctive white band or tip to their tail meaning identification is pretty obvious. The nest entrance looks extremely busy giving a false impression to the size of the nest. In fact, the bees swarming around the entrance are males from other nests looking to mate with the queen.

Treating a tree bees nest is a little harder than a normal wasp nest due to the way the bees work. Wasps will build their nest directly behind the entrance point meaning the insecticide applied covers the nest itself and any wasps returning to the nest.

The Tree Bumblebee will nest anywhere in a roof space but they are happy to use an entrance and exit point some distance away making the effectiveness of the treatment much lower than the wasp. I have even witnessed the bees actually cleaning the insecticide of themselves before flying off to continue their journey.

At present no one is really sure as to whether these invasive bees will have a detrimental effect of of current bees within the UK.

Here is a quote from a recently published article on these bees by the BBC.

Quote taken from the bbc website
The jury is still out, however, as to the wider impact of the bee’s arrival.
Prof Mark Brown, a biologist from Royal Holloway, University of London, said: “It could be that these bees are providing additional pollination services – pollinating garden plants, plants in the countryside, or crops. “It could also be that it is simply filling an empty niche in our ecosystem. In Continental Europe, it lives side-by-side with a lot of the species we have in the UK.
“Alternatively, it may be competing with them for resources – for flowers or nest sites.”

As stated above the impact they will have on our native bees is yet to be determined but with the significant increase in their numbers and the decrease in calls regarding other bees only time will tell.