Tree Bees

Tree Bees (Bombus Hypnorum) are a species on bumble bee now commonly found in the UK. They have only been in this country since 2001 and are spreading to cover all areas.

They are seen mostly from early spring until June but it is not unheard of for a queen to produce a second colony which will last until Autumn.

Tree Bee (Bombus hypnorum)
The bees are quite distinctive compared to our native bumble bees as they have an orange/tawny thorax, black abdomen and white tail.

Bombus hypnorum also likes to nest high up whereas our native bumble bees tend to nest closer to the ground.

It is this trait which can cause problems for householders as they are commonly found nesting in bird boxes, roof voids and behind soffits and fascias.

Native bumble bees are placid, but Tree Bees can be very defensive of their nests if disturbed. There tends to be a high level of activity around the nest entrance which is also different to native Bumble bees. 

If the bees are disturbed by for example by banging or vibration, they will rapidly pour from the nest and have been known to chase people and sting whoever is in the area. Tree Bee (Bombus hypnorum) showing tawny thorax.

Tree Bees nesting at roof level rarely cause a problem and if left undisturbed will happily complete their life cycle, they are great pollinators and good for both garden and environment.

There can be up to 300/400 bees in a colony but this is unusual and most are a lot smaller. The colony lives for about 4/5 months however occasionally a queen can produce a second colony which will live into the Autumn.

If they do nest in a inconvenient location, i.e. a bird box near a back door or on a garage, it may be better to re-locate the nest. We would not advise attempting to do this yourself as protective equipment is required.