Pest controllers have been inundated with requests to deal with bees in St Helens.
There have been so many calls to St Helens Council’s pest control service over the past few weeks that it has now suspended new call-outs to assess and treat bees.
Requests that have already been logged will be responded to, but no new ones will be accepted until the service catches up, unless there is an immediate risk to the public.
Bumble bees, tree bees and masonry/solitary bees are normally gentle creatures and, provided that they are not disturbed, are widely considered harmless.
The council says the calls received suggest that these bees are being mistakenly identified for the more aggressive wasp.
Wasps seldom start to be noticed before June and are an insect for which treatments are routinely provided by the council at a charge of £45.
While bumble bees will be seen from spring through to late autumn, tree bees – now at record high levels in the UK and making up the majority of reports – and masonry bees can appear late in March but are usually in decline by June.
Tree bees in particular can demonstrate a natural behaviour of hovering in numbers near their nest, which some people can find disturbing.
The council’s pest control service avoids routinely treating these bees, which are widely recognised as beneficial to the environment.
However for colonies that pose a risk to the public, such as those located above doors or in bushes close to pathways, as a last resort chargeable treatments will be undertaken by the council.
The council said the volume of requests is currently impeding the service’s ability to meet its statutory duties – responding effectively to genuine public health pests, such as rats and mice.
More information on the appearance and characteristics of these insects can be found on www.sthelens.gov.uk/business/environmental-health/pest-control/