The UK's Super Bumble Bee?

The European Tree Bumble Bee (Bombus hypnorum)

Dangerous Bumble Bees? No Kidding, They Deserve Your Respect.

bombus hypnorum
A Queen Tree Bumble Bee

Over the last few years, we have started to see the emergence of a new national pest, and it might surprise you to discover it's a Bumble Bee called The European Tree Bumble Bee - Bombus hypnorum.

These bees have managed to acquire a rather unique territory generally the hang out of savvy grey squirrels - our lofts and attics.

What we have discovered with tree bumblebees is a rather smart behaviour not seen in any other species we encounter. They like underfloor heating and loft insulation.

As the name suggests, these bees are typically found high up in the hollows of trees, but in the city, our homes are even more accommodating.

Once the disc-shaped nest has been established by the queen directly on top of the ceiling, and under the loft insulation, they create a dome of processed insulation that resembles cotton wool.

To make the loose insulation roof more stable, they cover it in a brown sticky substance that dries to create a relatively rigid roof under which the growing nest can continue to grow very covertly over the coming months.

bombus hypnorum in attic
Bumble Bees Nesting In A Disused Wasp Nest

Over some years we have noticed these bee colonies begin to bud. This means multiple colonies can inhabit the same loft space.

Because tree bumblebees like to nest directly on a ceiling, the nest remains warm throughout the year and allows tree bumblebees to get a head start on the competition in the early, cold days of spring.

Tree bumblebees will re-use a nest year on year, and one nest disk we encountered was 18 inches across. A staggering size, and a population of over a thousand bees.

What then, does this mean for us? Well, it's straightforward.

These bees are becoming a severe stinging pest. They are far more aggressive than any other bumble bee species we know of in the UK.

They have very large colonies, capable of swarming perceived threats, and we had a builder today who was attacked whilst up on scaffolding. He was stung on the head!

Fortunately, we have not seen or heard of any severe reactions to the sting of these bees, and it would appear, that in common with other British bumblebees, the sting is not barbed. This does, however, mean they can sting multiple times, just like a wasp can.

Also alarming is the bees always seem to go for the face. Wasps seem happy to target any part of the body, but tree bumblebees seem to go straight for the face and eyes.

So what's the answer? Well if you can avoid killing them - all well and good.

If you need to treat them, then height issues immediately arise, and they are terrible little insects to eliminate.

Because they are under insulation treating them internally, means uncapping hundreds of bees in a confined space. This is very precarious.

Moving the bees is also very difficult to do safely in a dark, unboarded and cluttered loft space.

We are still learning about these bees, so it falls on us to take the responsibility of not just treating these bees, but making every effort to study them.

We are building a portfolio of information on these bees, not found anywhere else. Once we have more information, we hope to share it with you.

If you are in Bristol or Bath and need help with European Tree Bumble Bees (Bombus hypnorum), you can book our Bristol Bumble Bee Control services on 0117 369 2709.

By - Simon Berenyi at WaspKill UK


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