Bees are beneficial for the environment. Pollination of flowers and other plants provides food for a wide variety of animals. But when bees make their nests and bee hives around inconvenient locations, they become pests.
The best way to remove bees is by first properly identifying the type of species you have. Then, you can employ several methods of bee removal, including using spray bottles with dish soap or vinegar spray solutions to repel bees. After that, use mechanical devices to keep them from nesting in eaves and other areas.
We’ve put together the following guide to help you decide whether to go it alone or enlist the help of a beekeeper. You’ll also receive information on the differences between DIY and hiring a professional. Finally, we’ll answer some of the most pressing questions about how to control these stinging insects.
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table of Contents
How to Identify Various Species of Bees
There are many different types of bees you can encounter around your home or business. Each species has its unique characteristics. Here, we list the different ones and tell you what to look for when identifying them.
Bumblebees are social insects that construct small bee colonies compared with other species. Their bodies are round and covered in soft hair to keep them warm in cooler climates. To ward off predators, they often have colorful bands that contrast with their darker colors.
Bumblebees rely on plant nectar to feed themselves and their young in the nest. They choose the flower based on color identification. In addition, some species are inclined to steal the nectar from other bees.
You can find bumblebees in northern areas of the world. They are also adapted to higher elevations than other species due to their thick, hairy coats. However, some species thrive in tropical regions.
The nesting behavior of bumblebees varies widely between the different types. For example, some may nest underground in abandoned rodent burrows. Others prefer above ground in hollowed-out trees or within the eaves of new homes.
Bees make honey through a complex process of first ingesting nectar from plants. Then, the material is stored within honeycombs. Humans gather the thick substance for use as raw honey for consumption.
Honeybees also produce wax by constructing their vast network of combs. This material is used by humans for producing candles, soap, and furniture polish. For these reasons, beekeeping is an important industry worldwide.
Scientists consider honeybees as being beneficial for the environment. Due to their vast numbers, they are the primary pollinators in nature. However, they can also become an invasive species without careful planning.
The honeybee lifecycle is as follows:
- Drone pupae
As pests, wild honeybees create massive hives around buildings and other human-made structures. They also gather in swarms numbering in the tens of thousands. The result is an intimidating mass of stinging insects.
Carpenter bees burrow into dead wood to construct their nests. This is because they are solitary bees and use their burrows to hide from predators. They become pests when this nesting behavior disrupts wood structures such as homes and commercial buildings.
Yellowjackets are 50% yellow and 50% black. They construct paper carton nests that can be as large as a basketball. Although they are slow to anger, yellowjackets will sting when provoked.
Ground-nesting bees represent over 70% of all bee species worldwide. The most common type of ground bee is the polyester bee. It gets its name from building its nests by secreting a thin polyester material.
Scientists cross-bread some docile honeybees with a more aggressive variety from Tanzania, Africa, to make honeybees heartier. When a handful escaped from a South American research facility, they began breeding with species in North America. This made the honeybees in the US more aggressive.
Still, the chances of coming across this variety of bees are slim. And efforts are underway to stabilize and bring a balance back to the species. However, it is always best to remain vigilant when working with any stinging insect.
Signs you have a bee problem
There are several ways to tell if you have a bee problem around your home. We’ve listed a few examples here.
Large numbers of bees in the area
You don’t have to wait until a bee sting’s one of your family members to know you have a problem. If you notice a swarm or at least several entering an opening on the outside of your home, it’s time to investigate further. There could be a nest or hive within the structure.
Sometimes, you can hear them
If you can hear a buzzing sound coming from inside your walls, you may have a bee infestation. If it’s faint, you can use a stethoscope to amplify the sound. This method may provide enough evidence to proceed with the bee removal process.
When you’ve located the hive or nest
The most obvious way to tell if you have a bee problem is to discover a hive or nest. However, don’t confuse a hive with a swarm. A hive is a permanent structure, whereas a swarm is when the bees abandon a hive to look for another home. So, it’s best to leave a swarm alone since it will move off, usually within a few days.
Bees standing or walking
If you see 20 or more bees standing or walking around on parts of your home, you probably have a bee colony nearby. That simply means they have taken possession of your home. For that reason, it’s time to make a plan to remove them.
How to tell if you have carpenter bees
Carpenter bees are attracted to unfinished wood. So, if you see them buzzing around your unpainted porch or roof area, they may be planning to construct a nest at that site.
Another way to tell if you have a carpenter bee infestation is with the waste they leave behind. Sawdust and other wood material will be a sure sign. It may even cling to window and door frames, signifying a bee tunnel is close to the area.
There could also be significant damage present, as evidenced by holes in the wood. This could eventually cause a collapse in several parts of the structure. For that reason, it’s vital to inspect all areas of the home.
How Exterminators Get Rid of Bees
Any bee removal project starts with a proper inspection and identification. Some bee removal services use thermal imaging to detect hives behind walls. However, most DIY homeowners will have to rely on normal visual and audible signals.
The bee removal process is dependent on the species. Some involve spraying, while others rely solely on physical extraction. And in extreme cases, entire walls may need to be dismantled to access the hive.
Sometimes bumblebees nest in hollow areas in wood. So, it’s vital to look for the entrance. Once located, apply pyrethrin dust to flush out the nest. Be sure to wear protective clothing such as gloves and a beekeeper hood with an attached veil.
Once you’ve eradicated the nest, it’s time to seal the entrance hole. Use foam or wood putty. Be sure to complete the sealing process by applying silicone caulking to small cracks where insects can enter.
The procedure to get rid of carpenter bees is almost the same as removing bumblebees. Flush the nest with a light dusting of pyrethrin powder and treat each individual gallery.
After you’ve removed all bees, plug areas where they can re-enter. Be sure to seal all small cracks with silicone caulking.
To prevent carpenter bees in the future, consider spot treating the area with a residual insecticide. You can use either a wettable powder or a microencapsulated product for longer-lasting control.
Yellowjackets and wasps
It’s best to use caution when removing yellow jackets or wasps. Although not aggressive, they will defend their nests. So, it’s vital to wear protective clothing.
Treat nests at night when bees and wasps are subdued. Use a pyrethrin knockdown spray to eliminate adult bees quickly. The active ingredient in these aerosols kills insects on contact.
If the nest is inside a structure and is inaccessible, use pyrethrin dust to kill it. Any trapped bees will die. Also, the dust will act as a deterrent for future colonies.
Natural bee removal home remedies abound. Some will have you mix equal parts of water with dishwashing liquid or vinegar. Then, using a low-pressure spray bottle, you would soak the hive with the liquid solution. While it may work for small wasp nests, we don’t recommend this type of treatment for honeybees.
Instead, it’s best to hire a professional bee removal service. These companies have the equipment and expertise to handle the difficult task of removing honeybees. To illustrate, below is a typical process for removing them from a house or commercial building:
- Locate the colony outside a structure using visual inspection
- Locate the colony inside a structure by utilizing a thermal imaging camera
- Remove walls if necessary from the outside to access the colony. You may need to have a city building permit for this step. So, it’s best to check with your local city government for more information. Also, if the colony covers the home’s wiring, it’s best to have an electrician take a look before proceeding.
- Once you expose the honeycomb, vacuum all adult bees into the holding cage using a bee vacuum. During the process, you will have to search for the queen to save the colony.
- Continue to peel layers of the honeycomb until all bees are captured. Then, place all waste in a separate container for disposal.
- If you can save the queen and most workers, the colony will also eventually thrive again.
- Once the wall void is clear of bees, it’s a good practice to flush the area with soapy water. This step will ensure that bees won’t return.
- Upon completion of the removal, the area dismantled will have to be put back together. In some cases, if you decide to hire a bee service, the company may not want to finish this part of the job. That’s why it’s crucial to get the entire process, including all steps to be completed, in writing before you sign a contract.
One final note: It’s best to avoid spraying beehives with insecticides. The queen is located within several layers. If she detects any danger, she’ll split the colony and continue building the hive deeper into the structure. This will make it even more difficult to locate and remove the colony.
It’s best to avoid spraying beehives with insecticides.
The queen is located within several layers. If she detects any danger, she’ll split the colony and continue building the hive deeper into the structure. This will make it even more difficult to locate and remove the colony.
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How to prevent bee infestations
There are several methods to deter bees from nesting or building hives around your home. Most are simple measures you can apply yourself. We’ve included some examples here.
Some species of bees prefer wet, rotting wood to build their nests. So, as a crucial prevention measure, it’s best to repair any leaky plumbing around the home. Also, it’s good to move woodpiles away from the structure and remove any rotted logs.
Bees nest in various locations throughout a home or building. For that reason, mechanical exclusion methods work best for sealing out bees and other insects. It involves closing off entry points and cracks where bees enter homes. Materials for mechanical exclusion include:
- Wire mesh
- Steel wool
- Expansion foam
- Caulking compound
- Silicone sealant
It’s best to start with the largest openings first. Use wire mesh and foam to plug wide holes and gaps. Block medium entry points with steel wool. And finally, seal any small cracks with silicone caulking.
Bee traps help coax bees away from outdoor areas where people gather. The most common type of trap lures the insects into a reservoir with a sugary attractant. Once inside, the bee can’t get out, and it eventually drowns.
Another type uses a UV light and a sticky glue board. Once the bee enters the trap, it gets stuck on the tacky area and eventually dies.
Studies show that citronella works well for mosquitoes. And although it’s not as good for bees, it does help. Used in conjunction with other deterrents, citronella candles can play a part in a comprehensive effort to thwart flying insects.
Top Recommended Companies for Bee Removal
If you’d rather leave bee removal to the professionals, you’re not alone. Most people prefer to hire a pest control company for this type of work. Here, we list the top three to consider next time you find bees around your home or business.
Aptive Environmental uses an integrated approach to remove stinging pests from a residence. It also employs the use of earth-friendly materials for long-term control. By taking care of the problem with minimal pesticide use, Aptive ensures that children and pets are safe during the process.
Terminix’s bee removal process starts with a thorough inspection followed by accurate identification. This step is important since there are several bee species and many different ways to approach each type. In addition, Terminix trains its technicians in the latest techniques to provide the best possible chance for success during the service visit.
Orkin technicians help educate customers on how to improve the home to keep stinging pests away. Then, using powerful treatment methods, they quickly eliminate unwanted infestations. In addition, if conditions are favorable, the tech will apply natural materials for long-term, residual control.
Bee Removal FAQs
Are bees dangerous?
According to the latest studies, some people can be severely allergic to bee stings. Not only that but if left untreated, they can result in anaphylaxis, which is a serious allergic reaction, sometimes causing death. What’s surprising is that most of these cases involve the honey bee.
The good news is, only a small percentage of the population is allergic to stinging insects. It’s those who are stung regularly that are susceptible. This includes beekeepers, their family members, or their closest neighbors.
Will bees sting for no reason?
Bees will not normally attack unless provoked. That’s because most species in the US are bred to be gentle. This characteristic allows the beekeeper to handle the bees without fear of being attacked.
What attracts bees to a home?
- Potential nesting site. When a hive gets too big, the colony will swarm and look for a new place to live. If your home has enough space, the swarm may move into a wall void, attic space, or open eave.
- Your house smells sweet. If you’ve recently had a hive move off your residence, it could attract another hive. That’s because bees prefer to nest where there are other bees present. For that reason, it’s important to wash the entire area where you’ve recently removed a beehive or nest.
- You have a flower garden close by. It may be too close. Try keeping fragrant flowers growing at least 50 to 100 feet away from your house. That should be enough of a distance to lure them away from the structure.
What are some natural bee repellents?
Eucalyptus and peppermint oils work well to deter bees temporarily. They hate the smell of both fragrances. However, it’s not to kill them but repel them from locations where you don’t want bees.
Also, try using a mixture of vinegar and water. Or break out the citronella candles. Both options are typically safe around children and pets.