I have bees getting in through gaps in the tiles of my roof, can you remove them?
Roof colonies are tricky as they often have very many points of access. The only way to proceed without killing the bees is to use a “cutout” approach. This is most safely done from beneath the roof on the inside of the building and may involve cutting away plaster work from inside a room.
You have done a cutout but I keep seeing bees hanging around, what is going on?
Bees are strongly attracted to the smell of honey. You are likely seeing robber bees looking for honey to steal and take back to their hive. This can be an advantage as they will quickly clear up any residual sticky mess from the cutout. Alternatively they may be scout bees looking for a location for a new home, again the smell of the old colony is very attractive and a new swarm may want to settle. It is important to seal the location carefully and plug the cavity, eg with insulation wool.
I have bees in my roof/wall/etc… do they need to be removed?
Bees do not necessarily damage property when they make their colonies and many houses have bees living in them for decades. Damage to property is most likely to occur when a colony dies off, or is killed with pesticides, as the wax can melt in hot weather. Honey can leak and stain woodwork, plaster and furnishings. Bees that die over winter usually have first exhausted their honey stores so there is little left to cause damage.
I would usually only recommend removing bees if they are causing a nuisance to people – getting into the interior of the house, flying close to pedestrian areas, or if they are aggressive.
A colony which has died out over winter is very likely to be recolonised the following year as swarms are very attracted to the smell of the old wax.
Can you remove bumblebees?
I do not typically remove bumblebees, although it is sometimes possible. They are not a nuisance species and, unlike honey bees and wasps, their small colonies only live for a couple of months. If left in peace they will not bother anyone and will soon be gone. Bees that go into a hole in the ground, or near ground level, are more likely to be bumblebees than honey bees.