Bumble bees are commonly seen in gardens and parks across Manchester and Cheshire, especially during the spring and summer months when their nests are at capacity and new generations of eggs and pupae are being fed and raised. While there are actually 24 different species of bumble bee in the UK, only 8 are actually commonly seen and they are all very similar to each other.
We all know what a bumble bee looks like – much bigger and hairier than a honey or masonry bee, with the same yellow and black colouring. The hair actually makes them better suited to colder climates than other bees, so they are often the first type of bee you will spot each year as they make their slow drifting way across your garden, with their characteristic deep drone.
Bumble bees are social insects and will form colonies of around 50 to 100 bees with a single queen. Some larger colonies may reach up to 400 individual bees but these are rare. The worker bumbles main job is pollination and they play a crucial role in the pollination cycle of thousands of plants across Manchester and Cheshire. Queens will appear in early spring after hibernating through winter and will focus on collecting as much nectar and pollen as possible to build her stores. Once she has picked a new nesting site, the queen will concentrate on creating the nest itself by building wax cells and filling them with eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the pupae will eat their way out and the new female workers will help collect nectar to add to the queen’s stores and to feed her new young. The nests will not contain a large amount of honey as only the queen and her young will feed on it. Unlike other bee species, bumble bees nests only last for a single year and will not be reused the following year after the queen’s hibernation.
Once new queens and males have been born and raised, they are pushed out of the nest and forced to move away from the colony and left to fend for themselves. They will live on flowers until they mate with each other, at which point the males will die off and the queens will find a suitable place to hibernate through the winter. They will emerge again in spring and begin the new colony life cycle all over again.
Its important to remember that the bumble bees you will encounter in Manchester and Cheshire are not dangerous as such as individuals. A sole bee will be easy to shoo away and shouldn’t be more than a minor annoyance for a brief time. However, if their nest is threatened, bumble bees can and will swarm and become aggressive, as you would expect. Another important thing to remember is that while only the female can sting (male drones are stingless and entirely harmless in a hairy, droning, bumbling way), they are able to sting multiple times each – unlike other bee species. For anyone allergic to bee stings, this can of course be very dangerous.
If you do find a bumble bee nest in a problematic location in your property, anywhere in Manchester or Cheshire, don’t attempt to deal with it yourself or without the correct equipment. Bees are a vital part of our ecosystem and are not a pest as such, therefore elimination should always be a last resort and relocation is the preferred method of control. Call Manchester Pest Services and our technicians will visit you and provide expert advice on how best to deal with the situation.