What I am going to share with you is undoubtedly where I see the biggest expense and fail rate among honey bee removals jobs. You may have had a bee colony removed in the past and are again having problems. Or if you have had bees in the past that “went away” and then “mysteriously came back”, you know what I am talking about. It can be very frustrating. So whatever you decide to do with a current bee problem, make sure to avoid the following mistakes.
Let's say, for example, a pest control company treats the area and is successful at killing the bees. The problem looks like it is fixed. Everything seems great and the bees are gone. Until a few weeks or even several months later, when you start to notice a strange smell (fermenting honey) and then you see a sticky substance coming through your ceiling. And you realize, there must have been honey in that honey bee nest. Now the nest still needs to be removed and possibly an entire ceiling of drywall replaced.
Even if a honey bee nest is just starting out, it is best to assume there is honey in the nest. Honey bees are programmed to make honey and it doesn't take them long to set up shop. Within a couple weeks to a month or two there can be enough honey to cause damage if not removed. A honey bee colony that is a year or more old is likely to have substantial honey stores. Imagine a five gallon bucket of honey being poured into the ceiling of your home and what kind of mess that could make. Quite often, by the time the bees are noticed, they have already been there for several weeks if not longer. It is not worth the risk. It is best to make sure that the honey, comb, and bees are removed.
Removing all the honey is only half the battle. The area must be sealed tightly and properly to keep bees permanently out. Bees found the place the first time, and there is a high probability they will try to come back. Using steel wool and caulking all gaps in the area 1/8 inch or bigger is a huge move in the right direction. Expanding foam is okay to use, but tends to deteriorate over time. I would only recommend expanding foam as a temporary fix. Make sure to use high quality caulk and take your time so as to not miss any gaps. If done properly it should keep the bees out. Some houses need to be sealed all the way around if the gaps are bad enough. (When removing a colony of bees, Southeast Bee Removal always bee proofs it from the inside as well for double protection).
Note: A healthy living honey bee colony is unlikely to damage your home. It is when the bees die and leave the honey unprotected that honey damage can start. As long as you avoid the above two mistakes you are on your way to successfully taking care of the bee problem and should never have problems with honey bees in your house again!
Here are some examples of failed bee removals that Southeast Bee Removal was hired to fix.
Whether you or someone else tackles the honey bee infestation, make sure you do not do these two things.
Bees are sometimes unpredictable and can sting without warning. Use precautions when trying to take care of a bee problem on your own. Bee removal specialists wear beekeeping suits that protect the face, hands, and body. Even with all the protective measures we still get stung dozens, even hundreds of times a year. If you are not confident in handling the bee problem yourself, please call a professional.
If you find small yellow and black striped yellow jackets or fuzzy amber looking honey bees inside your home, it is likely there is a bees nest somewhere in the structure. If you are unsure from where the bees are coming, walk around the perimeter of your house. Do this during the day when it is warm and sunny. Between 60-90 degrees is best.
Bees are least active when it is cool, rainy, or extremely hot. They will also not fly at night unless you have a light on that they would be attracted to. A honey bee colony should be quite easy to spot. A newly moved-in colony can have 10,000 bees or more and an established colony may have 50,000 plus bees. There will usually be a steady stream of honey bees flying in and out of a single entry point. In one minute you might see 50-100 bees flying in and out.
A yellow jacket nest will have smaller numbers than honey bees. You may see 10-25 yellow jackets per minute flying in and out of a single entry point, more if it is late summer. Check the most common bee entry points as you walk around your home: dryer vents, chimney vents, bathroom vents, eaves, and where the floors meet, especially where the siding meets the brick. Note that once bees become trapped inside your house they will fly to the nearest light source to try to get back out. They are not able to survive for long in this state and that is why you may see dead bees underneath a living room or bathroom window.
Seeing bees for the first time doesn't necessarily mean you have a bee problem. Honey bees always send out scout bees first to search out the best possible location for making their home. If you have been fortunate enough to catch the bees at this stage you may be able to save yourself from having to deal with a large bee infestation. Scout bees will not have a single entry point but will be flying over a large area looking for a possible nesting site. Scout bees can come in the hundreds and even up to a 1000 or more bees. They usually show up in the afternoon and may continue this behavior for several days.
Oftentimes, finding honey bees inside your house is an indication of scout bee activity. They came looking for a suitable place to start a new hive, but got disoriented and were unable to find their way back out. If you are sure the colony of bees has not moved in yet, the best thing to do is seal the gaps and cracks with steel wool and/or a high quality caulk.
See our scout bee video for an example of what scout bees look like.
You may only see a few bees flying in and out of an entry point but there could be thousands of bees inside. Sealing the bees’ entry point will make them look elsewhere for a means of getting out. Often times, they will begin coming in the house because they have no other way to get out. The bees' regular routine is interrupted as well, making for a more difficult removal. They may begin building a nest at a new spot closer to a new exit point. Then there will be two nests to deal with, both the old and the new. One job I did had the bees’ entry point sealed and the bees had been coming in the house for the last two months
It may surprise you to know that honey bees are attracted to salt water swimming pools. This is most prevalent during times of the year when the nectar flow is not as strong, typically early spring (Feb. - March) or later in the summer (from July on). I have done bee tracking before in an attempt to solve this problem. Normally, I do not take jobs like this because of the difficulty and the likelihood that the bees are on private property. However I wasn't super busy at the time and the owner was very insistent.
He had just installed a very nice, expensive salt water swimming pool. His family was having a hard time enjoying it because honey bees were coming to the pool and drinking the salt water. I picked a cloudy day to track the bees because when looking up at the sky the bees are much easier to see against a cloudy sky. All the bees were going in one direction when they left the swimming pool after taking a drink. I headed in the direction that I saw the bees flying.
There were houses everywhere and roads and lots of trees. I was about to give up but decided to drive down one more road. As I did, I saw a house that had about 7 or 8 bee hives in the backyard. The house was a half a mile away and it lined up exactly with the direction the bees were flying away from the swimming pool. While I found the location of the bees, I do not know the end of the story, I only hope these neighbors were able to work things out.
Here are some things you can do to try to minimize honeybees coming to your salt water swimming pool:
In my experience, there is a much higher probability of the bees being owned by a beekeeper verses finding them wild in a tree. Find the neighbor that is keeping the bees and kindly ask them if they could move them. I would only suggest this if the bees are a real nuisance and pose a threat of stinging.
Unlike wasps and yellow jackets, honey bees are gentle and will generally leave you alone. Many cities allow the keeping of honey bees within city limits so it may be difficult to get your neighbor to move their bees.
Ask the neighbor to have a supply of water that the bees can drink from. It seems that bees prefer dirty pond water over fresh water though any water source is better than none.
Put out pie pans filled with sand and then fill just up to the surface of the sand with water from your swimming pool. The idea is to that the bees will choose to land on the sand and drink the water that way. Every day move the pie pans several feet back. Do this every day until the bees are away from the pool. This is a way to train the bees to go to the pans instead of the pool. If you miss a day of filling the pans with water you may have to retrain the bees.