Pest or Pollinator: Identifying Bees and Wasps

Pest or Pollinator: Identifying Bees and Wasps


Summer is one of the busiest periods for pest controllers. Among the swarms of calls we get here at Opkill, wasp problems make up 90% of all calls received during this period. In the panic of discovering a nest, it can be difficult to distinguish what type of nest you might have and this affects the treatment options available to you.


Do I have wasps or bees?

Distinguishing between wasp and bees nests can seem daunting when you’re not sure but it’s easier than you may think. Here are some telltale signs to help you identify if you have bees or wasps:


Evidence of Bees:

  • Bees nest types are dependent on the type of bee that you may have, for instance, mining bees nests can be in the form of mounds and may look like ants nests.
  • Masonry bees, for example, create multiple points of entry in brickwork and nest in houses.
  • Honey bees tend to occupy areas such as roofs, wall cavities or hollow trees and other types of bees have been known to occupy lofts.
  • Other types of bees tend to use materials such as soft cement, soils, mortar and grass, among many others.


Evidence of Wasps:

  • Wasp nests are distinct in appearance. They typically present a wavy, grey exterior as they are made using dead wood from the surrounding area such as from fence panels or garden furniture, for example.
  • The key distinguishing feature of these wasp nests is they are typically created with one point of entry, allowing us to differentiate the nest from a bees nest.


If you’re still not sure or you would like a professional opinion, we can send out a technician to conduct a survey and identify the type of nest and organise follow-up treatment; including same-day removal of the nest (depending on the size of the nest).


Treatment options

Treating bees and wasps requires similar processes, however the ethical implications of treating bees means that we, as a member of the British Pest Control Association (BPCA), are careful about our approach to the pollinators. As per our BPCA membership and in light of the dwindling numbers of bees worldwide, Opkill does not treat bees unless there is a ‘serious threat to human life’. This can include if a bee sting can be fatal to someone occupying the infested area, for instance if someone living or working in the area is allergic to bees, or if the safety and/or life of a child is endangered.


Why we are careful about treating bees

It is probably not new information to you that bee populations are falling rapidly worldwide. This highlights the importance that we, as a responsible and ethical pest control company, want to protect and maintain the numbers of bees within the areas that we cover. In doing our bit and ensuring that we only treat bees when necessary, we can help to protect bee populations in the UK and worldwide.


Should I wait or should I get a wasp nest removed?

With wasp nests, there is the option to leave them be and wait until the end of summer when the wasps die off and the queens hibernate for next season. This would be entirely dependent on the location of the nest as some can become a nightmare to coexist with, when in your home, such as a loft or near a bedroom. The loud noises and potential to be stung is why we strongly recommend the removal of wasp nests with one quick treatment. Another reason in favour of treatment is that by not removing the wasp nest, rats have been known to recycle the materials of abandoned and fallen wasp nests for their own nests, creating further pest problems for you.