by Peter Mathews
These bees, which were first reported in the New Forest in 2001, seem to be increasing numbers in a big way. They favour settling in elevated locations like trees as their name would suggest. Last year Welwyn had a dozen or so calls from people with bees in their bird box. These were identified as the tree bumble bee. From some of the calls, you would think it was our fault that they had bees rather that blue tits.
Tree bumble bees are readily identified by the 'ginger' patch behind the head and white tail. Many web sites are out of date and give them scant mention. The BBC Gardeners' World site doesn't mention them at all, whilst others describe them as rare.
So far this year they have been the most common bumble bee reported. Admittedly, we only get reports of bees that are in obvious places. The tally of 'bees in soffits' reported in the Welwyn area so far this year is estimated at over 60 calls. I have fielded 11 in one day. All appear to be tree bumble bees. Members are reminded that they should not get involved. Removing the colony would almost certainly involve some building work such as lifting tiles. You are uninsured and are at risk! Any damage caused would be your responsibility.