If bees have set up residence near your place of business, you may find yourself facing a difficult decision. You are naturally concerned that employees or customers will be stung by the bees, but recent concerns over the decline in the bee population probably makes you think twice before using a pesticide or insecticide to get rid of the bees. There are several things you can do to get rid of them without causing harm to the bees, but first you need to determine what kind of bees are swarming your property.
Types of Bees and Bee-Like Insects
It can be difficult to tell the difference between bees, wasps and hornets. Many people refer to all of them as bees because they resemble one another when they are in flight. There are some major differences.
Bees cover several varieties, but the most common are:
- Bumblebees: These are fat-bodied bees that commonly buzz from flower to flower in the backyard. They often dart from dandelion to dandelion, but can be found on nearly any flower. They nest in fluffy loose material or underground. They typically build small nests in brush, under sheds or around the garden. Their nests are often short-lived and the bees will move on to a new home soon. Bumblebees will sting if threatened, but are not aggressive.
- Carpenter Bees: Carpenter bees are oval shaped and resemble a bumblebee. The abdomen of the carpenter bee lacks hair, distinguishing it from the hair-covered bumblebee. Carpenter bees bore holes into wood and create a nest inside the structure. Look for a series of perfectly-round holes near where you observe the bees to determine if you have carpenter bees. Carpenter bees can and do sting, but typically only do so when they are provoked.
- Honey Bees: Honey bees are considerably smaller than bumblebees. These bees create a large nests filled with the traditional hexagonal wax honeycomb. In the wild they nest in tree cavities or crevices, but they may set up residence in cavities in the eaves or other areas of your building.
Bee-Like Insects (Wasps)
Many people are surprised to learn that yellow jackets and hornets are both a type of wasp. Here's how to tell them apart.
- Yellow Jackets: Yellow jackets look a lot like a honey bee, but are slightly smaller and faster. In addition, yellow jackets are pure yellow and black, whereas honey bees tend to be yellow-orange in color. They build their nests in holes in the ground. Yellow jackets are aggressive and can sting multiple times.
- Hornets: Hornets look similar to yellow jackets, but are almost twice a long and thicker than a yellow jacket. They build large paper-like nest that are ball or tear-drop shaped. They often place the nest under the leaves of a building or enter the eaves through a crack and build the nest inside. Hornets are aggressive.
- Paper Wasps: Paper wasps are long and thin with legs that dangle when they fly. They build small gray or brown papery nests. Unlike the enclosed nest of the hornet, the paper wasp nest is open in the end and you can see the individual compartments inside that resemble the sections of a honeycomb. Paper Wasps are aggressive.
How do you get rid of the bees?
Under most circumstances, a bee removal service is the best answer to getting rid of bees and bee-like insects. They have the equipment and expertise to remove or relocate the bees safely. However, if you wish to try to relocate the bees yourself, there are some things you can try.
- Lure the Bees: Because bees are attracted to sweet foods and smells, you may be able to lure them away from the building so that they will set up residence closer to the food source. You can purchase bee lure or cut up fresh fruits and place them a few feet from the existing bee nest. Gradually move the bait farther from the nest until the bees establish a new nest near the food source.
- Use Natural Repellents: Bees can also be repelled by pungent smells. Sprinkle garlic or garlic powder, cucumber peels or burn citronella candles to encourage bees to seek a new nesting area. These can also be sprinkled near the bee's food source to encourage them to seek food farther from the nest. If your efforts are successful, the bees may build a new nest closer to the new food source.
- Use Pesticides: Killing wasps does not pose a threat to the declining bee population and does not threaten the world's food supply. If you have wasps on your property, purchase the appropriately labeled pesticide and spray the nest. This is best accomplished in the late evening or early morning when the wasps are less active. Wear protective clothing and observe all safety precautions on the container. Most have a special nozzle that allows you to spray the nest from a safe distance. Once you are sure the wasps are dead (check the nest the following morning), remove the nest and destroy it. If the wasps have formed a nest inside the walls of your building, call a bee removal service, such as U.S. Pest Control, to take care of it for you.