Summer has barely started and we’ve already had both bees and wasps making nests on our property. It’s always a surprise when we find them, after all they didn’t call ahead before arriving! This is the first year we have had both bees and wasps at the same time. When this happens we have to decide if we’re going to do something about the nests. After all, my first thought is “oh no, they sting!” but this isn’t always true.
About ten years ago we had a wasps nest in an airbrick outside the kitchen door. They were a small species of wasp and not agressive so at first we thought we could ignore them, but they became so numerous it was a real problem. They got everywhere. My husband put on clothes with elasticated cuffs and a hood and squirted wasp-killing powder in the brick. Then he ran! The wasps didn’t chase him and the nest died. The powder was definitely the right thing to use in the airbrick. Within a week we started getting quite a few spiders and flies and we realised that the wasps had been killing other bugs. You win some you lose some.
We’ve let other wasps nests live undisturbed if they are not in our way and have found that they didn’t last. We were briefly worried last year that a nest was growing but I think it was just a few solitary wasps. I prefer not to use chemicals or kill bugs if I can avoid it. Besides, a few wasps can be beneficial in a garden by killing unwanted caterpillars and aphids.
Two years ago some bumble bees made a nest in our extension roof. I didn’t know what to do at first so I took some photos (very tricky!) and identified the species with the help of the internet. They were Tree Bumblebees. I learned that they would only live there for about three months and they are not aggressive. In fact, I can get away with telling the children that bumble bees don’t have stings (my parents told me this and I actually believed them until I was about 30 years old!).
This year the bees are back. They nest in the roof above our sofa and in the evening we hear them making a noise like two balloons rubbing together. It’s kind of cute. They love our blackcurrant bushes and last time we hosted these bees my blackcurrant bush gave me nearly 6kg of fruit instead of the normal 1.5kg. That is an amazing increase in yield, these bees did me a huge favour. This year I’ve netted my blackcurrants already as I’m not prepared to share them with the pigeons!
These bumblebees are so benign that we can sit on the bench right underneath their nest entrance and eat a meal in peace. They don’t like to get too close to us. Just rarely they fly by and investigate. I bet their inner monologue goes like this: “Ooh is that a flower? Sniff-sniff. Hmm. What do you call that smell? BO? Yikes! I’m off!” Most of the bees sound the same but there is one huge one with a deep bass buzz, I call him Barry White. He always makes a bee-line (yes I know) for my neighbour’s blossom tree.
Destroying a Wasps’ Nest with Foam
We had a wasps nest in the garden shed a couple of weeks ago. It took me a while to spot it. I was using the shed and sometimes a loud buzz would make me jump. Eventually I spotted a wasp nest about the size of an apricot in the apex of the roof, just inside the door. That was no good, we couldn’t share this space and they were large wasps.
This sort of wasp nest can grow to be enormous. There was nothing for it but a can of wasp-nest destroyer. We used this one from Homebase. It comes out of the can like hair mousse, but there the similarity ends. It covers the nest and the wasps are history.
I have to confess that my use of the word “we” is misleading. You guessed it, my dear husband deals with the wasps. I merely admire the bees and try to learn about them.
We are quite lucky in the UK because we don’t have some of the more large and aggressive species of wasps. Nor do we have wooden houses, which can be damaged by a lot of bee honey or all kinds of insects. A relative in the USA had a lot of bother with a massive bee swarm in his roof. Anyway, I hope my experiences are useful and reassuring. Of course any buzzing insect nest can cause a great deal of trouble if it gets too big or grows in an unacceptable place. I enjoyed reading this article by a photographer who tempted some wasps to build brightly coloured nests.
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