Last week saw a costly mistake for the environment, as council pest control mistook bees for wasps. The result was an entire colony of rare Welsh black honeybees being destroyed.

Beekeepers from the Welsh Isle of Anglesey described the event as devastating.

Bees Mistaken as Wasps

Council pest control was called to an Anglesey address by a resident who thought wasps had invaded her compost bin. On arrival, the workers from the local council mistakenly identified the bees to be wasps. It was only after treatment had been administered that they realised their error.

The flying insects that had made a home out of the compost bin were in fact Welsh black honeybees. Not only one of the most rare species in the UK, but the only survivor of the original native British bee. Believed to have been extinct 100 years ago, Welsh black bees are now only present in 1% of hives.

Destroying a colony of 15,000 bees is a serious enough hit to the environment under normal circumstances, but the loss of such a large portion of a rare species has been described as heart breaking by local beekeepers.

Katie Hayward, manager of the nearby Felin Honeybees Farm told of projects that are trying to increase this bee species and the fact that she has offered to help the council when there is question whether they are dealing with wasps or bees. She said that a whole colony being wiped out in 5 minutes was devastating.

Investigation into How Bees were Mistaken for Wasps

The Isle Anglesey County Council has launched an investigation into how this sad situation occurred. A statement was issued on behalf of the council, which explained that procedures were in place to avoid mistakes like this occurring. If a pest control technician arrives at a call out and finds bees, they instruct the resident to contact a local beekeeper.

With a dark, large body covered in thick hair that protects them from the British climate, the Welsh black honeybee is quite different to the more brightly coloured wasp with a smoother body and very thin waist. Why the technician failed to identify them as bees is unknown, but the local council is doing what they can to find out.

Our article on How To Tell The Difference Between a Bee and a Wasp provides information on identifying bees from wasps.

Top Dog Pest Control’s Policy on Bees

At Top Dog Pest Control we have a very strict policy concerning bees. Recognising the higher importance of bees as well as the worrying decline in numbers, we make every effort to protect them.

We find that once London residents are educated about bee behaviour and the low level risk of them stinging, many people are willing to leave them where they are, as long as they are not in a high risk area, such as directly near to a doorway. In a case like this, our technicians would call in local bee experts to move the colony. How this is done will depend on the species. If you have honeybees, local beekeepers will be racing to your door to collect them and get them back to a hive!

A strong request from London-based Top Dog Pest Control – please never attempt to destroy a bee colony yourself. Not only is it dangerous, it is highly unnecessary and there are many other options and procedures that can be put in place. London has been making efforts to increase their bee population for some time. Read our article on London Bees with Personalised License Plates to see how bee activity was tracked last year.

Author: This article was written by Dean Mannion, Senior Pest Control Technician for Top Dog Pest Control who provide London bee control services. 

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