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Hi,

Sorry if this is the wrong place to post this, but I was wondering if anyone could help me identify the bees that I've recently noticed going in and out of the eaves of my house (the wooden boxed-in bit bit between the roof overhang and the walls). If they're not damaging anything I'm quite happy for them to be there, but I thought I should at least find out what type of bees they are and what they're up to... there seems to be a steady stream of several per minute going in apparently laden with pollen and emerging without any!

I've recorded a short close up video on my mobile phone and posted a few extra details here (YouTube)

Any help would be very appreciated!

Thanks
 

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They look like bumblebees, but that's a broad term. In our part of the US, carpenter bees look like that and they're highly destructive to wood. As long as you don't see them producing sawdust you probably just have some local bumblebee species exploiting a cavity.

They store pollen to feed their larvae. In the case of carpenter bees you find large balls of it in their nests. They should also be collecting nectar but won't make honey on any large scale, so it is unlikely that they will be making a mess in your home.

There should be a number of web guides showing the color bands and other identifying features of bees in your area. These may not give an exact ID ... there are so many species that often they only show the most common.

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/life/insects-spiders/identification-guides-and-keys/bumblebees/
 

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Definitely bumble bees. Notice the pollen balls, carpenter bees can't do this. Bumbles are also much fuzzier looking than carpenter bees.

Bees in four tribes of the family Apidae, subfamily Apinae: the honey bees, bumblebees, stingless bees, and orchid bees have corbiculae (pollen baskets)

Carl Linnaeus explained the biological function of pollen in the mid-18th century. By 1802 William Kirby had introduced the Latin term corbicula into English. He had borrowed it, with acknowledgement, from Réaumur.
 

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I'm making out a distinctive yellow-white tail. That narrows things down but then I run into difficulty with the pictures available. Your bees have a lot of orange around the thorax, but there are a lot of varieties and a good image of the banding would help you follow this guide further.

Step one was the yellow-white on the tail.

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/bombus/_key_colour_british/ck_wtails.html

Orange on the thorax may be these, but the distribution map suggests Leeds is too far north. If you can verify the species, that may be worth reporting to a university with an entymology department.

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curat.../_key_colour_british/ck_local_s.html#hypnorum

Does look like they're Bombus (bumblebees). They are probably not particularly inclined to sting, but the females can.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone for your helpful responses - I feel happier now that they're just bumble bees and I can leave them to their own business!
 
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