Wasps (including hornets) and bees are all part of the order Hymenoptera. They’re very important to our ecology and food supply and are facing many threats. Where possible, it is always best to leave a nest alone unless it is causing any issue or threat. In those situations where they do need to be controlled, this should always be done carefully and responsibly, especially when bats might also be present.
Yellowjackets and similar wasps
People are most likely to encounter wasps between late July and early October, when the amount of sugar that wasp larvae produce within the nest is reduced. This causes the adult wasps to seek out sugar from other sources, such as humans’ food.
Not all wasps’ nests need to be treated. Please consider leaving a nest alone if it is not causing you any problems.
Even if the nest is removed, wasps from other nests may still come into your garden or home. If this is a problem, please ask a pest controller for advice on traps and lures.
If wasps are entering your living areas, consider installing insect mesh over windows. Wasp attractants can also be used in the garden to lure wasps away from particular areas. These solutions can be put in place at any time.
The wasps will die in the autumn, except for the queen, who will leave the nest to hibernate. Wasps do not reuse old nests. When the wasps are dead, a pest controller can remove the old nest. This should be done during September, October or April, to minimise the risk of disturbing bats. Any dead wasps in the loft can also be swept up at this time.
Insecticide treatment of wasps is only advisable where wasps are posing a public health hazard, and where the treatment itself will not pose a danger to humans or other animals. If you need to carry out insecticide treatment, please seek personalised advice first.
Hornets and bees
Like bats, hornets and bees have an undeserved bad reputation. Both types of insects are peaceful and will normally only sting in self-defence. Both are very important to our economy and food supply. Hornets control many insects and spiders that would otherwise damage crops, while both bees and hornets provide vital pollination services to plants, including food crops. Both bees and hornets are facing serious threats worldwide. Where possible, it’s best to either live alongside them, or find non-destructive ways of removing them.
Like other wasps, hornets do not reuse old nests, so the best strategy is to wait until they leave in the autumn and then remove the nest in September, October or April.
If bees are nesting in a place that causes inconvenience or danger, we recommend contacting a local beekeeper to see if it is possible to have them moved. You can find your local beekeeping association on the British Beekeepers Association website. You can also find advice about bumblebee nests form the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
Once you have a plan for managing or moving the bees, you should seek personalised advice to ensure that these plans won't disturb or harm bats.
If the above advice isn’t sufficient, please get personalised advice on what to do next.