A BUMBLEBEE hotline in Stoneleigh has been buzzing with calls about swarms of bees nesting in garden bird boxes.
The breed of bee – known as tree bumblebees – came over from France in 2001 and have since made their way to Warwickshire gardens, where they nest in groups of up to 400 – much smaller than traditional honeybee colonies of around 50,000.
But anxious residents have been calling the Stoneleigh-based British Beekeeper Association hotline in their droves to seek advice about their new garden inhabitants, which nest in holes in trees, bird boxes or under roof tiles.
Leamington volunteer for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Emma Nelson, said: “The hotline has been receiving up to ten calls a day from local people who are worried about the bees.
“As long as you don’t poke around their nest the bees have no reason to defend themselves.
“If you have bumblebees in your bird box then just watch and enjoy. Since the nest has produced males and new queens it is a sign that it is at the end of its lifecycle and it will die not long after.”
Infact, Emma is so sure the bees will not sting unless they are antagonised, she encourages them to her garden, which her three young children play in daily.
She said: “A couple of years ago there was a tree bumblebee nest next to the trampoline where my children play. We left the bees and watched them do their thing. While the kids played the bees kept busy – and no one got stung.
“It was enjoyable, they were like our wild pets. We now actively encourage them into our garden.”
And she is calling for others to make their garden more bee-friendly too.
She said: “Two bee species have become extinct in the UK in the past 80 years. This is largely due to the loss of our wildflower meadows which provided food and habitat.
“Bees are a national treasure and one of the best pollinators of our crops. We currently have 24 species of bee in the UK and the free pollination service performed by them is worth more than £650million a year to the UK crop growers.
“Swap a bit of patio for plants and you’ll be amazed what a difference you can make to the environment, for you and your family as well as animals and insects.”
Visit bumblebeeconservation.org to find out more.