Hissing Bees??

I was cutting some tall grass in my garden this evening, and when I came to a certain section, I heard a rather loud hissing noise - which startled me as my instant thought was that I had a snake - which would be very unusual in my region. After some further investigation (shaking the tall grass) the hissing got louder and longer and I noticed two bumble bees emerge from the base of the tall grass.

Do bumble bees hiss? Is it likely that I have a rather large swarm settling - the hissing was incredibly loud and threatening.

I have consciously tailored my garden to be wildlife friendly, however the area they have settled (if it is bees) is rather impractical  and would look unsightly if i allow the grass to grow further.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks


  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    They don't usually hiss - you generally hear a low buzzing.

  • Thank you for your response Alina. There was a frog aswell in the grass, I watched that hop away and the hissing continued. I just thought it was a conincidence that 2 bees appeared as the base of the grass stems. I'm worried to be honest - I really hope it isn't a snake. It definitely sounds more like a loud hiss than a buzz. Whatever it is, it was angry and did not want me near. The problem is, its beneath my clematis, buddleia and bird bath - so it's an area I visit frequently.

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    Where are you in the world? The only poisonous UK snake is the adder, and that is usually fairly shy and won't hang around.

  • I live in St Helens, Merseyside. I had thought it unsual to be a bees nest - but then I am convinced  I read an article which described a bees nest 'hissing' to warn away predators such as mice if they enter their underground nest.

    My other thought was that it could be mammalian i.e. rat which would concern me, as I do feed the birds alot. I did investigate it somewhat thoroughly, and I couldn't see anything other than the 2 bees and a frog.

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    I can only suggest that you check it again daily. If the sound continues it's more likely to be a bee than the other things you've mentioned and you might like to consult a local bee keeper for help.

  • Thank you for your advice Alina. I'll check it again in the morning. I'd rather it bees than a rat or a snake. It seems too coincidental that 2 bees crawled out - we shall see and I'll keep you posted.

  • Jean GenieJean Genie Posts: 1,724

    It could possibly be the frog . They do actually scream like a baby crying . I know this to be true as my cat found one in my shrub border and I heard it for myself , They do this when threatened and it can be quite scary when you first hear it . If you google screaming frogs you will find info.Needless to say I removed puss and afore mentioned amphibian hopped it ! Just by way of interest , your little visitor ts more likely to be a toad as they are more common than frogs and both species  '' scream ''.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,819

    It may well be a bird - possibly a blue tit defending fledglings http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/expert/previous/dobluetitshiss.aspx


    If you can bear it,  I'd leave that patch of grass and shrubs alone for a few days until the fledglings are old enough to fend for themselves - it looks to me as if your work to make your garden wildlife friendly has been successful - you've provided a birdbath and good cover for the birds with your clematis and shrubs - how wonderful! image



    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Thank you for the updates. I have checked the site again this morning and the 'hissing' creature whatever it may be is still there and is still angry. I note now that there is a hole in the ground and a bee was entering it  - with it's 'baskets' filled with pollen. The frog/toad was back in the same place - so I can't be sure whether it's bee or frog that is hissing. Either way - I am leaving them alone. I hadn't considered Blue Tits - I have a lovely family of them in my garden at present.

  • Sue GoughSue Gough Posts: 23
    I had a 'hole in the ground' bees nest in the border last year. I was in the process of clearing all the plants as it was over run with PinkCampoin. I don't have very good hearing, so they may have been hissing, they were certainly very angry with me. The stings were very painful.

    Hope they don't return this year!
  • WintersongWintersong Posts: 2,436

    Well how lovely that you have a bees nest! I had one in my border last year right next to a sunbathing spot and me and the bees got along just fine.image   I felt honoured and privileged to have them choose my garden.

    Mine never hissed at me, although I never stood on the border, just observed from the sidelines, so perhaps that is something to consider? Mine had to keep remaking their entrance after weather damage and two attacks from a fox that dug up the soil. But they are industrious and just got on with mending the damage and going with the flow as the last know entrance ended up a few inches away from the original and pointing in the other direction  image.

    Long after they were gone, I dug up the nest to inspect it and found a soft, sort of lint filled bag with little bit of red husk strangely enough and the odd dead bee and it was about the size of a grapefruit. The nest was remarkably small and crowded and not what I had expected at all.

    Congratulations on your wildlife efforts!

  • Thank you for your comments. I have no ambitions to go near the 'hissing' border - I'm still torn between the idea whether the bees are hissing at me or whether something more sinister is lurking beneath the tall grass. I have watched the bees fly back and forth with 'baskets' full of pollen - it would be fascinating to see what craftmanship has taken place beneath the soil surface. I have consciousy developed my garden to support a plethora of flora and fauna, and just hadn't expected bees to set up camp or under ground for that matter.

  • darochdaroch Posts: 1

    i'm guessing this may be unrelated but today i saw a hissing bee (or more likely a stripy bee-like fly) on my walk across moorland on lewis.  i heard the loud eerie hissing sound and eventually deduced it was from this fly/bee.  even weirder it only seemed to hiss when it was still - as soon as it was disturbed the hissing stopped.  perhaps a method to attract mates?  if anyone can tell me what this may be i'd be keen to find out.

    more likely to be of relevence to your post though, i came across this:

    Hissing in bumblebees: an interspecific defence signal

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,819

    Fascinating image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • The 'hissing in my garden is in fact a bees nest. I decided to cut back some of the tall grass, and sure enough a colony?/swarm?/grist? of bees have burrowed beneath the lawn surface. The 'roof' of the hive is beautiful - and could quite easily be mistaken for sunkissed popcorn. Needless the say the bees did not appreciate my curiosity for too long, as a number were quick to emerge from the ground openings, take flight and pilot themselves around my body as if weaving an invisble net around me to deter me from getting any closer to their honey or queen. I escaped 'unstung'  and I have since crafted a circular fence around the entrace of the hive, so as to protect it from the lawn mower and strimmer. I can now casually observe the bees entering and exiting their nest (until the grass grows tall again) and the Clematis will have to remain unkept as I have no further ambition to disturb this area throughout the summer.

  • That's just great, I'm pleased you have found the cause of the hissing, and you escaped unharmed, could have been very nasty. At least you won't have any problems with pollination although I suppose its a little late in the year for that now. I have been following this thread with interest, good to know the outcome.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,819

    How wonderful image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • LeggiLeggi Posts: 489

    Fantastic! Must be great being rewarded for all the effort you've put in to making a wildlife garden, can we have some pics please? image

    Last year I had a very small colony of bees sharing my shed but they left in early summer and haven't come back this year.

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