We know bees as the typical flying insects that love to collect pollen and nectar. But sadly, we know them better for their stings and how they can swarm at people. That’s why spotting some of them buzzing around your home can raise a few alarms.
For a long time, pest control companies have been offering bee removal services to keep these buzzing insects away from houses. However, the cost isn’t cheap, and you might end up with bees coming back to your house anyway.
This is why we need to learn how to get rid of bees. DIY treatments that won’t cost you much are much preferable when it’s not your first time dealing with these bugs. Lucky for you, we’ve got everything you need to know right here.
Top Bee and Hornet Killing Solutions
Common Kinds of Bees
Right now, we know about 20,000 species of bees in the world, with about 4,000 of them native to North America. However, the most common ones number only a handful since they invade our houses every once in a while. Here are some of the most common type of bees that we see in our neighborhood.
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You‘ve likely seen at least one bumblebee in your lifetime. The bees of the genus, Bombus may have differences in their appearances, but they have very recognizable similar traits. They have black legs, and they’re short. They’re also fat and densely covered in small hair or fuzz. This makes them rounder and broader compared to other bees.
Unlike honey bees, bumblebees have less stripes (or none at all). And in typical bee colors, they come in black and yellow (sometimes, with more black than yellow). However, some of them have some white at the tip of their abdomens.
Bumblebees are large insects, with the biggest species capable of growing up to a huge 40 millimeters long. In Chile, these giant bumbleebees are called “flying mice”. But even with this formidable size, these giants are only aggressive when they’re threatened.
Honey bees are so common that a lot of people think they’re the only type of bees. But ironically, these well-loved insects make up to only a small fraction of the 20,000 known species.
Like all animal groups, every species from the genus Apis has a distinct appearance. But you can identify honey bees through the alternating black and amber stripes on their abdomens, the visible yellow hair on their thorax and the stubby black legs that have less hair on them.
Honey bees are non-aggressive and small, only measuring up to 13-19 millimeters. This makes them susceptible to hornet attacks that aim specifically for their honey and pupae. Some honey bees (that may belong to different genera) don’t even have stingers, so they’re only capable of swarming and biting.
Additionally, honey bees are the most beneficial insects in this list. Aside from pollinating and producing honey which is what they’re mostly known for, these bugs also make wax and other products that are used for daily functions.
It’s easy to confuse carpenter bees with bumblebees because of their close resemblance. After all, they look a lot like their fury cousins with their black legs, black abdomen and their thorax that’s covered with yellow hair.
However, carpenter bees are from a completely different genus (Xylocopa). But what really sets them apart is that their thorax is the only part of their body that has visible hair on it. The rest is a shiny metallic black that oftentimes gives off a blue sheen.
Traditionally, carpenter bees are thought of to be solitary. Meaning, they don’t live with other bees in their complex caste system of workers, royals and guards. They just burrow into wooden surfaces to raise their young in tiny nests. They also build their homes underground and spend most of their time obtaining food from flowers.
However, recent discoveries have proven that some carpenter bees live with some form of simple social nests. They can be seen living together with other females, mothers and daughters that work together to take care of their larvae.
They’re large insects, with the females reaching 13 to 25 millimeters long. However, they’re not known to be very aggressive. But make no mistake, they will show some animosity when you invade their nest.
Sweat bees are another family of bees that don’t rely on a colony to survive. They live alone in underground nests and rely on plants to feed their young.
The species that are grouped in Halictidae look more like wasps rather than bees. Most of them come in black, blue, green and red, with a characteristic metallic sheen on their exoskeletons. The bees in the genus Agapostemon, for example, have an attractive bright metallic green for an upper body that’s paired with the typical black-yellow stripes for their lower half.
Sweat bees got their name from their odd habit of being attracted to perspiration. They’re often seen hovering over people that exercise because of the sweat they’re shedding. Fortunately, these bugs are tiny and not known to be highly aggressive. Their stings are even classified as a minor threat.
Contrary to popular belief, ground-nesting bees are not just from one family. They’re mostly a collection of insects from three different classifications, the Anthophoridae, Andrenidae and the Halictidae. So all the bees in these families that strictly nest underground can be considered as ground bees. In fact, some sweat bees can also be called ground bees since some of them live below the ground.
Ground-living bees are solitary too. However, just like carpenter bees, they can live together in one area if that place is great for hosting their nests.
For most of the species, the females look for a good nesting site and excavates the soil to make room for her young. She also loosens the dirt, creating a soft mound above the ground.
If you’re looking to identify these bees, the only thing that you can count on is that they’re solitary and that, obviously, they live underground. That’s because they vary so much in sizes, colors and forms.
It’s also important to note that bees aren’t the only winged insects that live in the soil, there are also ground wasps as well. Learn how to identify those bugs here.
What are killer bees?
Not all bees sting, but some are so good at it that they can actually kill people. Enter the Africanized Honey Bees (AHB).
The AHB or Apis mellifera scutellata is an aggressive subspecies of the docile western honey bee. They’re non-native bees that were taken from Africa and introduced to South America in the 1950s. Since then, they’ve invaded the Americas, expanding their populations and building hives almost anywhere. The term “Africanized” comes from the bee’s origin and its status as an introduced and an invasive species.
Like most people, a lot of us may recognize these insects because of their ominous but very popular nickname, the “Killer Bees”. And it comes with good reason. These bugs are one of the most aggressive ones out there, capable of killing humans and other animals when they feel like their territory is threatened.
Through an untrained eye, honey bees and killer bees look the same. CC Image courtesy of Jeffrey W. Lotz on Insectimages.org
Another difficult thing about this bee is that it’s virtually identical to a regular honey bee. They both have the well-known black and yellow stripes, and they’re roughly in the same size.
However, what gives these bees away is their hostile behavior. They’re extremely territorial, and they can occupy several meters of land away from their nest. They’re also particularly sensitive to vibrations and can swarm over you for long distances. This also makes it highly possible for these bees to attack innocent passersby.
If you suspect killer bees in your yard, contact a bee expert immediately. Do not approach their nest even from afar. And as we mentioned, these bees are sensitive to vibrations, so you may also need to put off lawn-mowing until your bee problem is solved.
The Best Ways to Keep Bees Away
Making the decision on how to get rid of bees isn’t easy, especially if you have a garden that needs pollinating. You’ll need to check with your state to examine the guidelines in removing these insects since they vary from state to state.
Below, you will find information on the things that can aid you in your efforts to remove the type of bee you’re dealing with. But do remember to think long and hard before you do something to these insects. Most bees are an important part of nature because a lot of plants will stop growing if they’re not around.
So before trying anything, consider relocation first. If these bees aren’t doing anything evil, choose to relocate them instead of downright killing them. Though this method is dangerous, you can use something like a bird’s nest box. Place the device over the hive at night since most bees are less active in the evening. Then relocate the box to another area, preferably somewhere good for them.
How to Get Rid of Bumblebees
Seeing one or two bumblebees around your home isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. But if you do discover that you have a nest full of them, then you’ll need to know how to get rid of these fuzzy insects.
Here are some suggestions on how to get rid of bumblebees and the tools you’ll need to accomplish the mission. Just remember that before you attempt to do any of our removal methods, always wear protective clothing.
- Attack the nest with the spray of your choice. If you absolutely have to kill them, there are several choices available at hardware stores. But we recommend using the D-Force HPX because it not only controls bees, it can also get rid of other bugs like roaches and ants.
- If the nest is in a structure like in a house or a shed, use Delta Dust Insecticide. This product is guaranteed to kill bees immediately on contact, and it lasts for up to six months before reapplication is needed.
- Build a food trap. Get the bees by using a trap made from dry cat food, boric acid and grape jelly. Mix these ingredients together, and form them into balls. Then just spread the balls near the nest, and wait for the bees to get them. The theory behind this is that the bees will get attracted to the balls and bring them back to the nest where the colony will be poisoned
How to Get Rid of Honey Bees
All bees are important, but honey bees are by far the most beneficial to mankind. So it’s best to relocate or repel these insects rather than to completely wipe them out. With that in mind, here are some ways you can do it.
- Smoke them out. Even though smoke is a popular way to calm bees, according to Science ABC, a lot of it also gives them a kind of awareness to urgently leave their home. That’s because smoke in the wild oftentimes means forest fires. In other words, bees would think that somewhere nearby, a fire has broken lose, so they’d have to look for a new hive.
- Make a peppermint repellant. For DoItYourself.com, peppermint can be used against honey bees. All you have to do is combine a few drops of peppermint essential oil and a bottle spray filled with soap and water. Spray this concoction on the affected area and hopefully, the bees will leave because of the smell.
- You can also use spice. If you want a more powerful spray, DoItYourself.com suggests mixing 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/8 cayenne pepper into the previous concoction. The strong smell should be enough keep those buzzing bees away.
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees
When carpenter bees grow in numbers, they become notorious property destroyers. Their burrowing on wooden surfaces leaves plenty of homeowners sore, so they’d naturally want to erase these bugs for good. And if you’re one of them, check out these useful tricks that might be able to save your walls and beams from being damaged.
- Try the Preventive Approach. The primary approach to keeping carpenter bees off your property is prevention. Carpenter bees love softwood, so use as much hardwood as you can when building your home. Apply varnish or paint regularly on exposed surfaces to avoid weathering. Lastly, fill cracks, gaps or depressions in wood surfaces to ward off bees that are looking for nests.
- Suck them out with a vacuum cleaner. This is highly effective when the nest is new since you’ll only be dealing with a few bees. Also, you can only do this in the evening because most bees are less active at night. Ready the vacuum cleaner’s suction at the entry hole. Agitate the wood where the nest is, and suck out all the bees. Once they’re out, don’t forget to fill the hole with putty and paint.
- If you really have to, use insecticides. Apply the insecticide thoroughly, as far into the nest as it can go. Remember to keep the entry hole open after the treatment because you’ll want to allow the remaining bees to spread the chemical into the deeper and unexposed parts of the nest. After a few days, plug the bee hole with putty or glue. Bee sprays can be used during the day instead of dust sprays while some liquid chemicals like chlorpyrifos (Dursban), carbaryl (Sevin), or synthetic pyrethroid (cyfluthrin or permethrin) can be used as a preventive wood treatment.
How to Get Rid of Sweat Bees
Peppermint doesn’t just get rid of honey bees. It helps with sweat bees as well.
Sweat bees are particularly irritating to humans since they’re attracted to perspiration, especially when we exercise outdoors. So if you’ve experienced your fair share of sweat bee attacks in your own home, it might be best to get rid of them. Here are some ways you can do it.
- Mix dish soap and water. According to Stop Pest Info, you can try knocking off hovering bees when you mix 1/4 dish soap with 3/4 water together. It’s an easy DIY spray that you can test at home.
- Use peppermint soap. Bees are known to hate peppermint. So the next time you go out for a nice long run, rub some mint soap on your skin.
- Make a sweat bee bait. This method takes a lot of patience, and it works best if you live in a farm or in any big piece of land. Just cut a fresh mango into little pieces, and place them in a box. Hang the box on a tree near the current hive. The next day, replace the mangoes with fresh ones and relocate that box into a tree that’s a bit farther away but still able to attract the same bees. Do this until the mango bait is far enough that the bees won’t be interested in your house anymore.
- Invest on a bee trap. Note that not all traps work for all kinds of bees, especially sweat bees. But this inexpensive Seicosy trap lets you mix a bait that’s perfect for the kind of bee you’re trapping. In this case, sweat bees are attracted to a mixture of juice, sugar and water. Don’t forget to add a bit of dish soap to drown them.
How to Get Rid of Ground Bees
Finally, we have the ground bees. Because these bees are solitary and are usually just stick to feeding and raising their larvae, there’s a good chance that they might not do anything to you and your family.
Ground bees are mostly non-aggressive, so it’s better to leave them alone. With them, you should still be able to do some yard work without being attacked. However, if they’ve built up quite a population in one area in your yard, then it’s high time you get rid of them.
- Don’t use pesticides. For one thing, these bees don’t usually reach high numbers, so a large-scale operation that uses pesticides is just overkill. You’ll also be causing more harm than good since pesticides can affect your pets, plants and other beneficial bugs that live in the ground.
- Wet the soil. According to Thought.co, ground bees only nest in dry soil. So the least toxic way you can get rid of them is to put a damper on their spirit, literally. Just keep your soil damp. Set your sprinklers to water your lawn every now and then to discourage these bees from living there. Be careful though, a lawn that’s too wet may invite other pests like fleas and termites.
- Pour boiling water. To instantly kill existing bees, pour boiling water on their nest at night.
- Use mulch. Ground bees are not so keen on nesting where mulch is. You can also spread it over the bees’ nests to trap them. Pine straw is good for this because it’s great against other pests like termites. It’s environmentally friendly too.
Why are bees important?
Bees are an important part of nature, and they’re disappearing fast!
Remember that learning how to get rid of bees has its drawbacks. That’s because while these bugs are not producers, they definitely play an important role in the large ecosystem we live in. So killing them might do more harm than good.
To illustrate, we know that bees are one of the best pollinators that we have around. They travel from flower to flower to feed on their nectar and pollen, effectively helping the plants in their reproduction stages. Without them, we won’t have honey, vegetables, fruits and other plant-based food items that we often see on our supermarkets. Animals that eat plants may also be affected as well. And everyday products that we take for granted like the cotton we use on our clothes could also disappear along with the bees.
So, think long and hard before you decide to get rid of bees, and invest on relocation and repellents rather than insecticides. If you’re interested in learning more about this dilemma, check out this informative video from AsapSCIENCE. We also have our own list here.
In the end, bees are generally thought of as beneficial insects. So repelling and relocating are way better tools to deal with them. That’s because in most conditions, the damage caused by them can be dealt with through humane approaches with no need for employing chemical solutions.
Simply put, knowledge on how to get rid of bees doesn’t include mindlessly pumping insecticides into hives, especially when you haven’t assessed your family’s needs and the current bee situation that you’re in. After all, these insects are important. Without them, we’ll lose more than just pretty flowers.