Bumble bees are generally docile insects living wild and form short-lived social colonies. They will construct their own nests in the cavities of hedgerows, under rocks, or in disused mouse or birds’ nests. There are approximately 22 species in Britain and over 200 across the world. Due to their docile nature, they will only sting if severely aggravated.

Bumblebees are generally striped black and yellow but can also have splashes of red and/or white thrown in. They range in size from about 12 to 25mm in length.

The colony is founded by a sole Queen, a relatively large, fertile female, in the spring or early summer as she will have spent the winter in hibernation. Her first offspring will be workers who are sterile females, who collect pollen and nectar and then set to work maintaining the wax brood cells and looking after more young offspring. Sizes of the colonies will vary according to species, and some may produce several hundred workers. After two or three months, young Queens and males will be produced, and the colony starts to decline. A colony will only last a single season, and workers and males do not live longer than two months or so. After mating, the young queens go into hibernation over winter in soil or under leaves and emerge next spring to begin their own colonies and so the cycle begins again.

These bees are extremely beneficial as they act as pollinators of many fruit trees and other plants. Bumble bees are generally harmless and will usually only sting if seriously provoked. If a nest does pose a threat to a household, then, if possible, attempt to relocate the nest to an alternative site, care should be taken if relocating a Bumblebee nest as they may become provoked and aggressive. The most productive time to relocate a nest is after sunset when the bees are all back in the nest, however if they are posing no threat to you the best option is to simply leave them be, they are amazing insects and a wonderful thing to watch and as they live a very short season they will soon be out your hair!