Bees, bees, bees! You know summer’s really here when those darn bees are everywhere! Especially at your BBQ or picnic! Anything that can fly and can sting people call a bee. To the average person this is enough of an identification process, details to the contrary are superfluous, unless your the person trying to get rid of them. That’s when those pesky details are useful.

The type of “bee” or “wasp” tells us not only their true identity but also:

  • how dangerous they are
  • where to look for their nest
  • what chemical to use
  • how to apply that chemical
  • whether or not to remove the nest after treatment
  • what time of year is appropriate to treat

For most people the best advice when dealing with bees or wasps is “leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone”. Unfortunately that’s not always possible. When activity is in areas people can’t avoid or when the nesting activity is causing damage, the problem needs to be addressed

Service and Cost

The office can give a price range over the phone, but the exact fee is determined by the technician upon completion of the job. Variables effect the cost; type of bee or wasp, location of nest, size of nest etc.

The Bug Runner gives a seasonal warranty on bee and wasp treatments. That means that if any nest we treat continues to have activity we will treat it again at no charge, as many times as needed through December of the treatment year. This warranty does not cover nests that were not found or treated by The Bug Runner. Continuous coverage for bees and wasps is included in all Bug Runner residential contracts.

The nest must be found in order to provide service. Chemical must be put directly into the nest to exterminate bees. Surface sprays are ineffectual.

If a nest has been disturbed prior to service (IE: lawn mower, ill advised self-treating, hole closed up) we may have to wait a day or two for things to calm down before treating.

A Brief overview

In the balance of nature bees and wasps are actually the good guys. Wasps help control other insect populations and bees pollinate crops and flowers. Their absence would create problems unimagined. O.K., that’s well and good you say, but that doesn’t help me when there’s a honey bee nest in my wall, wasps in my attic, carpenter bees eating my deck and yellow jackets attacking my BBQ! We all wish there was a bee and wasp repellant, but unfortunately there is not and we have to deal with these pests one nest at a time.

Sometimes the problem is finding the nest. Wasps make paper-like nests that can be visible, made in a tree or even on your windowsill. Many people find them in the attic.

Carpenter bees leave sawdust as they drill into wood to make their nests. The holes look man made, smooth little circles. Other nests can be more difficult to locate.

These insects can adapt well to many types of environments, they nest in the ground, under shingles and siding, in eaves, in a log, a tree, a bush. A few minutes spent watching their activity can reveal where they’ve set up house. You may notice them hovering about in the same general location every day. Upon closer inspection you may see them landing and crawling in and out of a crack or hole. If you see them do this, that is where the nest is.

Management

There are differences in the types of nests and their locations but the premise behind the treatments is basically the same. Apply the chemical directly into the nest killing some of the colony on contact.

The remaining bees or wasps are killed as they come back and track the poison throughout the nest, killing themselves and any remaining larvae. The nest may be left in place after treatment to help facilitate this process. That choice is made by the technician at the time of treatment.

Honey bees are the only bees that keep the same nest year to year. All other wasps and bees make new nests each season.

The bulk of the colony dies in the winter with just a few hibernating to come out next spring and rebuild their colony and nest. This is why it can be hard to find the nests in early spring. As the season progresses the nests grow in size and population, making them easier to find but also more dangerous to deal with. It is not uncommon for us to remove large nests from walls and ceilings after bees have broken through the sheetrock into the house.

After The Treatment

Avoid the area near the nest site for a day or two until your sure all activity has stopped

If activity continues after two days – call us to come back and treat again – retreats of the same nest are at no charge

If an odor develops after treating a nest within a wall or ceiling, call us to come back we may need to open the sheetrock and remove the nest

IPM Hint: Use bottle traps for bees during a party or picnic- put an attractant inside (lemon aid or soda works well) and place them around the perimeter of your picnic area, patio or deck to attract and catch them before they reach you and your food – traps are available from The Bug Runner

Interesting Facts

Wasps, in general are more aggressive than bees. They are territorial, attacking if you approach their nests, they will sting with little provocation, and are capable of stinging numerous times.

Bees are very calm by comparison. They can sting, but need to be pushed into it (sit on one, grab one with your hand).

Honey bees will die if they sting, so they definitely need a good reason to do so.

About 30 deaths from wasp and bee stings are reported each year, more are likely attributed to heat stroke or heart attack.

Car accidents have been caused by wasps. If you have a wasp in the car, resist the urge to swat at it while you are driving, pull over and come to a complete stop, open the windows and doors allowing it to leave or if you’re brave and have good aim… swat at it now that your safely off the road.

Many a ground nest has been found by the unsuspecting lawn mower. The mower rumbles over the nest site and suddenly you’re engulfed with angry bees!

Got Stung ?

If you do get stung, the natural tendency is to grab at the stinger and try to yank it out. When doing this you actually can squeeze more poison into your system. This can be avoided by using a fingernail or knife blade to scrape the stinger from the skin. Cleanse the wound and use an antiseptic, a cold compress should relieve pain and swelling. Allergic reactions can range from slight to serious shock. Any reaction more than local swelling and pain should be checked by a doctor.

Bees in The House

How many bees are you finding? One or two every couple of days? 20 or 30 all at once? If there are a lot, open the windows – bees will go towards the light – letting them out will reduce the immediate danger until help can arrive!

Check the ceiling and walls for stains – condensation from a nest within the wall or ceiling will eventually cause a water mark looking like a leak – if this condition exists, do not touch it! The nest is directly behind that area and close to, if not already breaking through – If assistance is not available immediately – take a piece of cardboard several inches larger than the stain mark and gently tape it in place covering the area. This will reduce the immanent danger.

If you see bees going in and out of an area under the siding, between the bricks, around the door or window frame, into a light fixture etc. etc., never attempt to close the opening to the nest. This traps the colony inside, they will find another way out – often into the house – and they are not happy when they get there!

Swarming Honey Bees

One of the most awesome sights (and potentially frightening) is a honey bee swarm. I consider myself lucky to have seen this amazing phenomenon twice. The first time was in my front yard where I had two fruit trees. The sound was what brought me outside to look. Imagine the buzz you’ve heard from one flying insect multiplied by the hundreds possibly thousands (you know I didn’t count). The sound was LOUD.

Then I saw them among the branches, moving en mass. I had heard about the process, having worked in the Bug Runner office for a few years by then, but I was unprepared for the intensity of the experience. It had always been my job to help calm customers when they called so I knew I was in no danger, to just keep my distance and watch. After a short period they moved on, lighting on the telephone wires briefly then continuing down the road and out of sight.

A swarm forms when a second queen develops in an existing nest. Just like any other kingdom (or “queendom” in this case), there can’t be two queens. The old queen leaves with part of the colony and travels looking for a new site. Eventually the swarm will settle and start going into a hole or crack or crevice to make a new nest, in nature this would be a tree or other natural setting, but man made structures can be used as well.

The only time you may need assistance with a honey bee swarm is if they set up housekeeping in an inappropriate site, like your house, otherwise stay calm and enjoy being privy to one of nature’s really cool experiences.