Tree bee 

Courtesy of Joanne { Astley Manchester} copyright belongs to Joanne

Tree bee--Bombus hypnorum---Family Apidae

A regular visitor and member of this site, Frank, who is a keen naturalist and environmental campaigner has been in touch {Guestbook page} to inform me about the tree bees' that have tenanted his garden this summer.

Tree bees are members of the family Apidae and placed in the genus Bombus and are new comers to the British fauna. They were only discovered in Britain in 2001 when a specimen was recorded on the Hampshire /Wiltshire border in England.  Since then they have spread northward at an amazing rate. They have now been recorded in Northumberland and southern Scotland.

Here in Lancashire {north west England}  the bees that chose to tenant Frank's garden are the only ones I am aware of. { If any reader knows of other colonies it would be of great interest.}



So what are Tree bees.-and would you recognize them.?

It is a predominantly an early season bumble bee. The Queens emerge from their hibernation during February and March and workers are active during early spring. The bees are most obvious between May and June when the colony is producing males. A partial second brood may be active during late summer.

As their common name suggests they are a bee that regularly establishes colonies in rot holes in trees. However, they come into conflict with humans when they choose to nest in the cavities of houses which may include the roof space. They have also been recorded nesting in sheds, bat boxes and bird nest boxes.

They choose a variety of habitat  which includes woodland , roadside verges {In trees}, and wall cavities, scrubby grassland, town parks, allotments and as Frank's information confirms in gardens. 

Bombus hyporum . Courtesy of entomart. Public domain Wikipedia.

About the tree bee

This species have only short tongues so are limited to certain types of flower for sources of nectar. Those produced by fruit trees and fruit bearing shrubs such as bramble and raspberry suit their requirements ideally. The limited studies of their feeding habit suggests they aid pollination of such flowers greatly and as a result yields are significantly improved.

Although this bee is capable of colonising the whole of Britain, experts believe there will be no significant impact on other species of bumble bee, hence they pose no immediate conservation concerns.

The species is one of the commonest species that occurs in north and eastern Europe, and eastern Asia. 

Tree bee on flower .Photograph courtesy of Andre Karwath. CC BY-SA 2.5 license.

The bees colouring---

The bees colouring and relatively long legs make the species quite easy to identify. The thorax is ginger but this may vary somewhat from ginger to reddish to almost black.The abdomen is black with a snow white tail. 

Bramble flowers suit the bees requirements for nectar.


Like most bees the tree bee will defend its nest aggressively if it is threatened or disturbed. this may well involve a number of male workers flying around the entrance at great speed trying to frighten off would be predators including humans. 

When aroused in this state they may well sting without being provoked. However, it must be stated as fact that the tree bee is quite peaceful when not disturbed and poses no danger.

For more information about this species and other species of bee visit---


I would like to thank Frank for inspiring this page. 


BWARS, is currently mapping out the progress and distribution of this distinctive bee. If you have had a sighting of this bee or indeed a nest you are aware of please visit the link below to record on line your sighting. Individual sightings are important to maintain an overall distribution data for the species.

 If you have a sighting or a location of the nest email me at dalswildlifesite@gmail.com and I will pass them on for you. See Below for minimum requirements.

Or alternatively report directly to BWARS. Click on the links banner at the top of this page. Scroll down to the BWARS box, Click. This a direct link to the Submitting Records page where you will find all the information you need for recording your bees.

BWARS-is the Bees,Wasps and Ants Recording Society. 


Which ever way you choose to submit your records there is a minimum requirement. Your Name, Species {ie tree bee} Date, Grid Reference or Post code and any additional information such as was it a casual sighting or an actual nest. 


Summer 2013

Visitors to this site have reported many tree bee nests . Here are a small collection-

Brian-Has a nest in the back of his garage made of shredded paper and a black bin liner. [Essex}

Deb-from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire  Nest in garden.

Jean from York nest in garden.

Katie from north Nottinghamshire , nest in garden.

Stephen {unknown location} reports a nest in his roof space. 

Sasha reports tree bees nesting in an old bird box in her garden in Nottinghamshire {See pictures below}  Above is a nest in a bird box sent in by Angus Daniel  Buckinghamshire.


Summer 2013 records continued

Pat and Don from Letchworth, Hertfordshire report tree bees under the wood of their flat roof over the kitchen.

Maryann, from Grantham   has had a nest of tree bees in an old nest box located in an old apple tree. Maryann sent the photograph below

Tree bees nest box May 2014

Courtesy of Angus Daniel. Buckinghamshire.

 The video at the top is of tree bees around a bird box kindly sent by Shelly Hellings of Bristol June 2015, Video below  sent 2014 Tree bees active around the roof space courtesy of Joanne Astley Manchester England.

Tree bees around nest box. Sent by Clare Lytham St,Anne's Lancashire England

Courtesy of Faye Parker 

Should I be worried about Tree bees ?

If you have a nest in your garden or roof space you may see a 'swarming' like behaviour  see top video above. This should not alarm you. These are male bees waiting for the females to emerge from the nest so they can mate. The male bees Do Not sting. to read more follow the link given to the Bumlebee Conservation web page.



Search bar address to another article on Tree Bees including how to remove nests. July 2016.


Type in the address  above into your search bar. This is another interesting article on the Tree bee by Clive Hill a bee-keeper.  It is full of interesting advise about nests and colonies. Including advise on how to move nests.