Bees can be easily mistaken for wasps. Bees have the familiar yellow and black bands, as do wasps, but they are much less pronounced in the bee. The bee’s body is more furry than the wasps and little yellow pollen sacs are usually visible on the hind limbs.
There are many different kinds of bees, some like the honey bee and bumble bee are well known. Others like the leaf-cutting bee feed on plants. Burrowing bees nest in soil and garden structures and masonry bees in stonework. They all look bee-like and telling them apart is difficult.
They are useful insects, feeding on garden pests, garden debris and pollinating flowers.
Bee swarms are commonly caused by honey bees during very hot weather at the beginning of summer. Swarms occur where a colony of bees produces more than one queen, the colony then split and one of the queens leaves the hive along with her workers to find a suitable site to create a new colony. Many local beekeepers will assist with swarms and may offer to come and collect them. If you have concerns regarding swarming guidance is available from the British Bee Keepers Association.
Action against bees should only be taken in extreme circumstances and where they constitute a credible threat of danger and risk to public health.
There are 25 species of bumblebee in the UK. These bees are essential for the pollination of numerous wildflowers species and crops as well as being a vital component in our ecosystems. More information on bumblebees and what to do if you find a nest is available from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
Dover and District Beekeepers' Association
The best time to contact beekeepers is 5-6 pm, or after the bees have clustered (a swarm may take off again within 48 hours).
To cover costs of petrol and disease treatment of swarms to protect the beekeeper's own stock, a donation is advisable.