It's early October in the UK, and my mixed garden hedge (some box, some hawthorn, lots of accidental ivy) needs the top trimming off. Unfortunately for some reason this year the ivy is attracting a lot of bees and wasps (yes, it definitely is both).

While I'm happy the bees are there, I'd really like to trim the hedge without accidentally hurting them, or angering the wasps and getting stung. If I wait a few weeks will they go away? Or is there any other trick or time of day, or something?

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    A few cold days (and nights) will get rid of the wasps - except for the queen, UK wasp species don't survive over winter. Bees are normally smart enough not to pick a fight with a hedge trimmer, so it's hard to "accidentally hurt them" - cold weather will also reduce their foraging activities. – alephzero Oct 6 '18 at 12:36

The Ivy will be in flower, and is a valuable source of nectar for bees and wasps at this time of year. Activity on the part of those insects will be highest on sunny, warmer days, but just wait a couple of weeks, pick a chilly but dry day, or wait till late afternoon before dusk to do it. Bees can sting too, of course, but its the wasps that are the real risk for getting stung at this time of year in the UK because they're on the way to dying, are confused and dazed and are not acting under instruction from the Queen, so just keep an eye on their activity levels - you may need to wait for a couple of frosts before attempting it.

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  • Thanks - I was able to trim it at the weekend when it was much colder, and there were almost no bees or wasps left around. – xorsyst Nov 1 '18 at 9:55
  • Much colder indeed - talk about a sudden contrast, bit of a shock to me, never mind the bees and wasps! – Bamboo Nov 1 '18 at 10:20

Bees and wasps will stay out of the way, trust me. If you have hornets, quite a few of those species attack. Especially someone running a loud machine, a mower, a blower. You will not hurt bees by hedging. Bees only sting if they get trapped between the brim of your hat and your head (ouch) or your armpit. Wasps, the European Wasp with long legs is very docile. It is hornets to be aware about. They actually attack, it is scary! I had an experience with bald faced hornets who were at a temporary feeding of some dead animal. I got up to the top of the bank to put a poster about a dog up and took a breath and seriously; it was like "on the count of three people"! These hornets were already in my hair and under my shirt and I never noticed them. Cartwheeled down the slope ran zig zag quite explosively only to find those hornets were right with me. Ran back to my truck, got in, windows up, my choc lab just watching me with this LOOK as I screamed, smashed, pounded my own head to kill these hornets. Luckily I decided not to go home and crawl under the covers. 47 stingers still pumping were pulled out of my skin. I've since been stung and luckily I've not been sensitized to have to use an epipen.

Unless there is a nest you are threatening, you really should just hedge your hedge. I appreciate your care for bees and wasps! Hornets are usually found in the country and most people never get to know them! Seriously, I was on my horse my dog found a hive in the rocks, my horse was furious, we finally got out of the drive and up the hill when the hornet hanging out in my hair stung me on the top of my head. It was like a sledge hammer! Over and over again. Hornets are the dudes you do not want to mess with. They are transient, luckily.

Make sure, grins, just fyi, that the bottom of your hedge is wider than the top of your hedge. Never straight up and down. Are you using hand shears or a gas powered hedger? Hornets, some species, go nuts with loud equipment. Bees and wasps are docile compared to some species of hornets.

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