Bees are an important part of the ecosystem that have garnered much attention in the media. While protecting them is important, this does not mean you should share your living space with them. Some species can damage your home or become hostile. The good news is that they are generally less destructive than rats or termites. The bad news is that they are sometimes difficult to remove.
Know Your Bees
Before choosing a method of removing a colony of bees, it is important to identify the species of stinging insect, and whether it is a bee, wasp, or hornet. This knowledge will give you a better estimate of damages or the threat of stings. Some species also require specialized treatment.
- Bumble Bee: Aggressive only when threatened, the bumble bee prefers to nest in loose, fluffy materials and occasionally underground.
- Carpenter Bee: These oval-shaped bees burrow into surface leaving perfect three-eights inch holes. They are solitary, and rarely damage structural beams. However, individual nests can multiply, eventually destroying the surrounding surface wood.
- Honey Bee: While honey bees are not aggressive and highly beneficial, their nests are heavy and produce thousands of workers. They are the only species where relocation from your home is the preferred method.
Wasps resemble bees, but are more aggressive. Common species include:
- Ground Bee: This smaller species of yellow jacket builds nests between two inches and two feet underground, usually in abandoned burrows. They are easily agitated and fairly aggressive.
- Hornet: This aggressive species builds external paper nests that are shaped like an inverted teardrop.
- Yellow Jacket: These black and yellow-striped insects build nests similar to hornets. However, they also build nests in walls and can slowly chew through drywall or surface wood for materials.
- Wasp: Long and thin, a wasp’s legs hang when in flight. They frequently colonize attics and cars, and have a painful sting.
Removing Bee Infestations
Human structures often prove attractive to bees, as their natural tendency is to build their hives in tree hollows and similar cavities. In the event that a colony of bees has taken up residence in your home, yard, or vehicle, there are steps you can take to get rid of them. As they are diurnal (active during the day), it is best to deal with hives after dark.
Removing Bees from Your Home
Dealing with a colony of bees living in your home may be easy or difficult, depending on whether the hive is exposed. You should dress in bulky protective clothing and spray an exposed hive with pesticides after dusk to avoid stings. Watch the hive at dawn and dusk the next day for any activity and spray again, if necessary. Once you are sure the bees are dead, you should remove the hive to avoid the risk of honey or wax melting and causing damage to your walls. This will also make a future infestation less likely.
In the event of a nest inside the walls, you may need to call a professional. Under no circumstances should you plug the entry point, as this may lead any bees in the hive to seek another exit, possibly into your living areas.
How to Get Rid of Bees in the Ground
A simple method for eliminating a ground bee problem is to purchase a chemical spray specifically labelled for ground bees (we recommend Spectracide). Ground bees are a species of yellow jacket and can become aggressive when agitated, so be sure to dress protectively and spray at night. Try to aim the chemical into the hive entrance so that the spray reaches the nesting area. Watch the area around dusk or dawn over the next few days for movement and spray again if needed. Note that bees who survive the spray will attempt to relocate their nest.
Under no circumstances should you attempt to kill ground bees by pouring gasoline or other generic chemicals into the nest. Doing so will poison the ground, killing both plants and animals. It may also prove a fire or health hazard to humans.
Getting Rid of Bees in Your Car
Eliminating bees or wasps from a car is often difficult, depending upon the location of the nest. It is dangerous and you should wear bulky, protective clothing and work at night if you plan to approach the colony. Sprays such as Raid will often eliminate the bees after a few uses. However, in the case of car nesting, the safest solution is to seek out a bee keeper or professional bee removal expert. Simply driving or letting the motor run will not eliminate a colony and may prove to agitate the bees.
How to Get Rid of Beehives
It is important to remove a hive after killing the bee colony. Not only does this eliminate dead larvae which will decay and stink, but it will also help prevent any new colonies moving into the abandoned hive. Removing a wasp nest is different than removing bee hives, so knowing which stinging insect you are dealing with will aid in the removal process.
For species of bee, the methods of removal are all similar. Once the hive is empty, you may knock it down from a tree or other visible surface. It is especially important to remove wax hives from your walls, as the wax and honey may melt and cause damage. This means opening a hole in the wall and then breaking the comb apart, removing it a piece at a time.
Wasp species nests, such as the paper wasp (flat with a visible comb), hornet (teardrop and usually hanging from a tree), and yellow jacket (unevenly-shaped or in the ground) can be dangerous to remove. Be sure that you have eliminated the colony and wear protective clothing in case you encounter a survivor. The empty hive may be dislodged and destroyed. For ground bees, you may simply pack the hive entrance with dirt. For nests in walls, you may use a vacuum to pull corpses from the hive and then seal any openings with caulk to prevent a new colony from forming.
Regardless of the species, hives which are built inside of a tree hollow or other enclosed space outside of your home will prove difficult to remove. In these cases, the method used is to seal the hive. Find any openings which may give access to the hive and fill them with caulk, cement, or a similar substance.
Getting Rid of Bees Naturally
There are several natural methods to help remove an unwanted colony of bees. In many cases, you may need to experiment with more than one method before finding one that works best for your particular intruders. It should be once again noted that you should make every effort to relocate honey bees instead of exterminating them.
Natural Bee Lure
Bees will often relocate to be closer to their food source and are attracted to strong, sweet smells. Cut soft, ripe pears or mangoes into chunks and place them into an open sandwich bag. Place this 15 to 20 feet away from the hive. After a few days, move the bait a few feet further away from the hive. Continue this process until the bees stop visiting the original location and have set up a new hive closer to the bag.
A more lethal form of lure is to fill a basin with sugar water and place it where the bees congregate. The bees will be attracted to the water and drown. For better effect, add some soap, which will disrupt the water’s surface tension.
Natural Bee Repellents
While bees are attracted to sweet smells, they are equally repulsed by pungent smells. One of the simplest methods to repel bees is to liberally sprinkle garlic powder in places where the bees congregate. Not only will they generally avoid the area, but direct application of the powder on bees may prove lethal.
Citronella candles will not harm bees, but they will avoid any areas containing the smell. This helps protect some areas if you have a hive in your yard, and may prove partially effective in forcing a colony to relocate if the candles are being burned close to the hive.
Scatter a handful of cucumber peels as another natural form of repellent. The peels give off a scent that bees and many other insects find repulsive. The downside to this method is that it is not easily used to make bees abandon their hive. However, if used in the garden, the degraded peels will help fertilize your plants.
Add one teaspoon of vinegar or canola oil to a quart of water and place in a spray bottle. By spraying bees with this mixture, you not only make it difficult for them to fly, but they will suffocate. Adding some dish soap to the mixture will break the surface tension of the water droplets, making the spray even more effective. The downside to using sprays, however, is that you must attack the bees directly.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is an organic pesticide which is comprised of ground diatom shells. This substance will lacerate insects that come into contact with it and may also cause dehydration in some insect species such as beetles.
Alternative Solutions for Ground Bees
There are a few ways to deal with ground bees. One is to pour boiling water into the hive entrance at night. The water will kill bees on contact. This will not affect bees that are away from the hive, however.
Using a large, clear jar is another method to eliminate ground bees. Place the jar over the hive entrance at night. During the day, bees will fly out, only to be trapped in the glass. The heat from direct sunlight will have some effect, but the primary effect is to prevent the bees from having access to food or water. The major flaw to this method is that there may be another entrance to the hive by which the ground bees may escape.
A third method for removing ground bees requires several large, dark tarps. Wearing dark clothing, cover the nest with the tarps, making sure the tarp stretches several feet in every direction. Place large stones, bricks, or other weights down around the tarp so that the bees are sealed in. With no light and no exit, they will starve to death over the next several days. This is considered one of the best eco-friendly methods of ground bee extermination.
Unlike most other types of pest, there are two different types of bee professional to choose from. Exterminators may be used to eliminate hives, including wasps and hornets. Alternatively, many beekeepers will relocate bee colonies, especially honey bees.
What to Expect
A professional exterminator will use chemical sprays to destroy the bees or wasps. Often, sprays will be chosen that are designed specifically for that species. Once the colony is eliminated, the exterminator will destroy the nest and seal any openings.
Your local beekeeper may or may not offer a removal service. In the event your stinging insects are a species of bee, they will use a bait trap to coax the colony into a box hive and then relocate that colony. In the case of a hive in the walls of your house, a beekeeper may opt for extermination or decline the job. Fewer beekeepers are providing this service for species other than honey bee.
How Much Does it Cost?
If a beekeeper is available, they may offer to relocate the bees at no cost or for the price of the trip, but only if the colony is healthy. According to Cost Helper, the cost of removal for hives which have been exposed to pesticides or wasp species will range between $75 and $200 for visible hives and $100 to $700 for hives located between walls. Pest control companies may charge between $100 to $400 or more to remove a hive.
How Much Does it Cost gives higher estimations for extermination, beginning with $100 to $250 for removal of an exposed hive. A wasp nest will run between $85 and $250, while hives located under a roof or in walls cost $150 to $1,400.
In the event a wall needs to be opened to remove a hive, there may be additional repair costs. Some companies will do this for $300 to $900. However, not all removal companies offer this service, requiring you to pay another company for the repairs.
Saving Money on Professional Removal
To save the greatest amount of money, identify the type of bee or wasp. If it is a species of bee, avoid using any chemicals or pesticides until you have called the local beekeepers about removal services. Many wasp species may be removed using home kits purchased at your local hardware or grocery store. Be sure to use them at night when the wasps are least active. Due to their large colony size and aggressive tendencies, hornet nests are best left to professionals.
Honeybee Swarm Removal is a national directory of beekeepers which provide removal services.