All species of bee were added to the UK Biodiversity list for protection and conservation in 2007. Bees are beneficial insects and may not be routinely killed. If there are large numbers of bees in a clump they are likely to be honey bees and a local beekeeper should be contacted to remove them safely.
We don't treat bees because they are good for our gardens, plants and the food we rely on to eat. Bees should be encouraged whenever possible.
How do I know what I'm looking at?
It can be tricky to know whether what you can see are wasps, honey bees or other types of bees. Help is at hand:
- If you have a smartphone or tablet, use the 'Beedentify' app, from Apple Store or Google Play
- If you don't want to download an app, see Bee Identification Guide (opens new window)
What should I do if its honey bees?
The easiest way to identify honey bees is when they swarm and form a large mass of insects hanging from a tree, fence or bush. Swarms usually occur in May and June but can still happen in July and very occasionally in August. After that, honey bees will stay but quieten down. These are nothing to fear, but its best not to get too close if you're not used to them.
Edinburgh and Midlothian Beekeepers' Association (opens new window) will collect honey bee swarms, but please remember:
- to check that its honey bees, not some other form of bee; and
- the beekeepers are voluntary and collect swarms as part of their hobby. They do not need to provide a service and may not be able to come immediately.
What if its not honey bees?
If it's wasps, we can treat for these. The service is chargeable. See Wasps
Bumble bees will be gone by end September or October depending on the weather.
The tree bumble bee is relatively new to Scotland and likes to nest in bird boxes. Other bumble bees nest in the ground and it is best just to leave them alone until they depart. If the nest is disturbed they will fly out and may sting but otherwise they are not interested in humans. They can usually be safely watched close up at no risk. See Bumblebee Conservation Trust (opens new window) for more information.
Neither the Council nor the Edinburgh and Midlothian Beekeepers' Association offer any service for these and its best to leave them where they are.