Who doesn't enjoy watching honeybees traipsing from flower to flower as they conduct their vital duties? It reaffirms our faith in the order and elegance of our natural world. Even those who love bees don't want a hive in the walls of their homes, and a number of people simply don't care for bees at all and are upset at the thought of bees living anywhere on their property. Who doesn't enjoy them, you ask? To those of us who have intense allergies to a bee sting, the scene described above may not seem so idyllic.
Sadly, honey bees fall victim to parasites and other insects as they go about their business, so we should avoid killing them if at all possible. And wasps like yellow jackets can give people the impression that all bees are similarly vicious (in truth, yellow jackets aren't "bees" at all). We must be judicious whenever we figure out how to get rid of a beehive.
- Pest vs. protected organism. Honey bee colonies should never be exterminated unless beehive removal is impossible; their interest in humans is generally minimal and they play a truly vital role in our habitat. Beekeepers remove and relocate honey bees and honeycomb in order to transport and sustain the bee colony.
Even wasps, which aren't honeybees at all, keep other pest populations down and generally die during the winter. However, wasps are far more likely to attack children and pets without provocation. Their more aggressive behavior (and ability to sting repeatedly), coupled with the fact that they kill both pest and honey bee non-discriminately, leads many to justify simply exterminating the wasps.
- Safety around hives. No one can tell whether he or she is severely allergic to bee or wasp venom without having been stung before or diagnosed by a doctor. Since these allergies can be fatal, it is strongly recommended that you always have an epi-pen on hand in your home first aid kit just in case someone in your household or neighborhood requires immediate allergy relief. Beyond the emergency first aid for bee and wasp stings, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor before you plan to get rid of a wasp nest on your own. Don't ever approach a bee hive, no matter where it is, if you aren't sure whether you are allergic to the bee or wasp sting. Bees and wasps alike might regard the approach as a cause for alarm and defense of the hive.
If you get stung by a bee, immediately remove the stinger from your skin by scraping it out. Don't squeeze around the stinger as you would a splinter, because doing so will release more venom.
For some, a sting brings only a sharp pain upon stinging and then a small, localized area of irritation. Others with more serious allergies to the sting, however, may experience reactions that include hives, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, unconsciousness or even eventually death. If you're not sure what your allergic response could be if you were to get stung, don't take any chances; call a pro for bee removal, or call an exterminator.
- Bees and wasps behave differently. Once a doctor has confirmed that you have no allergy to bee venom, observe the bees flying to and from the beehive, and take note of basic bodily features of the bees a safe distance from the hive itself.
- Honey bees have a basic appearance of orange or light brown with darker brown or black stripes. They are lightly fuzzy. One sticky point is that killer (or "Africanized") bees look like regular honeybees, but are more territorial and, therefore, more dangerous. Thankfully, they are also scarcer in our country. Killer bees more often live in underground beehives.
- Big rotund bees are bumblebees. In coloration, they most resemble honeybees, though bumblebees usually look fuzzier and can sometimes be completely black.
- In general, wasps aren't as hairy as honeybees and have thinner, sleeker bodies as well as different coloration. Yellow Jackets and paper wasps are bright yellow and black in color, but not surprisingly yellow jackets have more yellow.
- What does a beehive look like? If you can plainly see the hive from a safe distance, its shape can help you figure out whether it's a honey bee hive or a wasp nest. A paper wasp nest can have an umbrella shape to it, and both paper wasp and yellow jacket hives are made of pulpy, papery-looking substances. Honey bee hives, on the other hand, are made of wax. Location of the hive or nest does not indicate what kind of insect you have on your property; wasps and bees alike can live underground, out in the open or within walls.
- Exterminating a wasp nest. If you judge that you, your loved ones or pets are in sufficient danger to warrant extermination of a wasp nest, you can possibly exterminate the hive on your own.
- First, you must make sure that the hive is not filled with honeybees - to exterminate a honey bee hive would be a sad and pointless loss.
- Only exterminate wasps yourself if the wasp nest is relatively small, in plain site and within reach of a hand-held spray can. Goggles are a good safety precaution.
- If all of those conditions are met, then all you have to do is buy a spray can of wasp killer at your local home and garden store and follow the instructions carefully.
- The pesticide usually recommends nighttime for extermination; wasps return to their hive around nightfall.
- Don't stick around after spraying the pesticide. Make sure you have a swift escape planned, and leave the area rapidly. Make sure no one is planning to enter the area for a little while. Paper wasps are not as aggressive generally as yellow jackets, but they will fiercely defend their nest if it is threatened.
- Location of the hive changes beehive removal techniques. Bee hives can form in trees and bushes or under eaves of structures; they may appear in variations on the classic form we all know from cartoons. But bees and wasps can also live underground and in walls. In these locations (especially within walls), bee control, removal and killing all become more of a challenge. A wall opening shouldn't simply be blocked off, because the bees will only be driven to find an exit inside the building itself, leading to a potentially dangerous situation for anyone in the building.
Beehives in a wall or underground definitely require the assistance of a skilled professional. Bee hive removal from a wall involves that much more skilled labor. Sometimes removal won't be an option; a professional will be able to assess the situation to make that judgment. Even killing becomes more difficult within a wall. If honeybees or wasps are killed within a wall, all of the remains must be removed. Otherwise, residual honey or insect carcasses will attract other pests into the building.
When we're stung by a small, buzzing bug, it's sometimes hard to tell whether the culprit was a honeybee or a wasp. And sometimes it's not safe to investigate a beehive closely enough to confirm the identity of bees that have taken up residence near your home. Where kids, pets and potential allergies are concerned, caution is the best policy. Schedule an appointment with a beehive remover in order to determine the nature of the colony and the importance and feasibility of removal.