Bees, Wasps and Hornets

What to do if you have bees, wasps or hornets. 

Bees

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Bees have a vital role in polinating plants as well as producing honey and wax.  There are a number of different types of bees. The British Beekeepers Association has a large amount of information on bees and how to identify them.  If you have a problem with a swarm of honey bees, they might be able to help you find a local swarm collector (This is for honey bees only and their website has details on identification).

Due to the aggressive nature of the wasp, (a fully active nest can contain more than 5,000 wasps) Cornwall Council cannot advise on DIY control.

If you are in any doubt, please contact a professional pest control contractor, details of which will be available in the Yellow Pages or similar.  Contractors wear full protective clothing. They will eliminate the whole colony safely without endangering themselves or others.

Wasps are easily identified by their bright yellow and black striped colour.  Hornets are larger and a more orange/brown colour.

Wasps usually build nests in trees. Sometimes they build nests in chimneys, loft spaces, cavity walls, soil banks, garden hedges and sheds.  The nests are normally composed of a paper like substance made by the queen/workers chewing wood and mixing the pulp with saliva.  The nest contains cells occupied by eggs, larvae and pupa. They are active all through the summer months. Only the young fertilised females survive the winter in hibernation to emerge in the spring to form new colonies, they never return to the old nest.

Wasps feed on insects, grubs, rotting flesh as well as fruits and high protein foods. The wasp is a beneficial insect in the garden and should be left alone if not causing a problem. It only becomes bothersome in the late summer when it senses colder temperatures arriving. Once the young queens have left the nest they have nothing else to do but feed off the sweet things on our tables and partially fermented fruit. They can then become a nuisance and a danger.

Wasps can sting when threatened. Wasps, unlike bees can sting several times and if killed or injured give off a scent to attract other wasps to defend them.  Wasps have regular flight paths, and getting in the way of one of these can lead to being stung, as can swatting at a wasp. If at all possible move quietly away from the wasp and it should leave the area of its own accord.  

The hornet is larger than the common wasp, at 19-35mm in length.

The biology and life history of the hornet is similar to the preceding species,

Despite its large size it is not particularly aggressive and as it is relatively uncommon it should be left alone and not destroyed unless absolutely necessary.

Should you find a suspect Asian hornet or nest, please contact the Non Native Species Secretariat immediately. Email alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk giving as much information as possible. Please include details such as your name, the location where the hornet was found and if possible an image of the specimen. Please do not put yourself in any danger of getting stung when trying to take a photo. Even if you are unsure of whether it is an Asian hornet, send it in anyway – it’s better to be safe than sorry..