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Solitary Bees or Wasps

In early spring you may see wasps looking for somewhere to build a nest. It is easy to mistake Solitary (Mortar/Masonry/Mining) bees for wasps.

Solitary bees are small bees similar in shape to a wasp. They are active during April, May and early June with peak activity in May; this is often too early in the year to be wasps. Swarming bees can be seen in late April to early May and are also often mistaken for wasps.

The Council’s pest contractor treats wasp nests from late June and you can request treatment online. Alternatively, you can telephone 03444 828 325. At times of high demand, your call may be transferred to an answering service. Please leave your name and address, telephone number and email (if you have one) and the approximate location of the nest. 

Dial A Pest, the specialist domestic pest treatment division of SDK, have produced factsheets on particular types of pests

Book a wasp treatment online - opens new windowExternal Link - opens in a new window

You will be contacted by SDK within 3 to 4 working days to arrange an appointment for the treatment and to make payment. Please be aware that caller recognition displays SDK's telephone number as an “unknown caller”. SDK will try to contact you up to three times and if they cannot contact you after the third attempt, they will close the request.

See Environmental Health Fees and Charges for the cost of this service.

Are wasps harmful?

Wasps are aggressive if disturbed and in late summer or early autumn can sting as they become affected by the fermented fruit. The sting of a wasp can be very painful and may cause swelling. A sting can cause an allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock which can be fatal, in which case immediate medical attention must be sought.

Do not disturb an established nest or stand in front of a nest; wasps fly in a direct line to and from the nest and standing directly in front of the nest puts you at risk of being stung. Nests become more high risk as they mature and the number of adult insects outlive the grubs. This causes a shortage of food leading to hungry wasps.

During early morning and late evening, wasps are at their least active but as temperatures climb into the twenties, wasp activity will become more frenzied.

Signs of a wasp nest

Wasps will build nests in various places. Nests are made from chewed wood mixed with the wasp's saliva and are usually a pale beige or grey colour. A new nest is formed in spring by the queen wasps that have been hibernating over winter. Nests can be up to 120 cm wide and contain in the region of 5,000 to 10,000 wasps, although smaller nests can be found in restricted places.

Larger queen wasps, seen in early spring or during a mild winter, can be destroyed with a domestic insecticide spray.


You should consider professional treatment if:

  • the nest is in an area that is likely to be disturbed;
  • there are young or vulnerable people who have access to the area;
  • the wasp nest is in your home or your roof space; and
  • you or a member of your household is allergic to wasp stings.

Removing an old nest

Wasps will not return to an old nest so it does not need to be removed unless it is unsightly. During the winter, an old nest will be empty so it can be safely removed. If you want a nest removed, a pest control officer can remove it at the same cost as a wasp treatment.

Protecting your home

You can block any holes in the eaves, soffits and brickwork to prevent wasps from entering and building a nest. In early spring, remove any accumulation of vegetation or rubbish.