Honey Bees – Beneficial Pests that can become a Threat

Despite their venom and occasional threat in or around buildings, honey bees are extremely beneficial insects because of the important role they serve as pollinators of many agricultural crops. Honey bees are kept in hives by beekeepers and rented to growers for crop pollination. The honey and beeswax are both useful commodities and are extracted from the hives.

When bees do become a threat in or around a home or other structure eliminating the bees becomes a top priority. Continual honey bee flight to and from a hole in the building is an indication of a nest. It is also possible many times to confirm bee activity by listening for bees buzzing inside. Petri still recommends using an experienced beekeeper if bees are located in an easily accessible place such as a hollow tree, but often bees are living in building walls, attics, or are tucked away where they are impossible to reach and may be a threat to people. Destroying the bee nest is also the only option if bees appear overly aggressive which may indicate they are Africanized honey bees.

Africanized honey bees have now been in Florida for quite some time and they are physically indistinguishable from European honey bees but exhibit a much more aggressive nature especially when their nest is disturbed. Tests have shown that Africanized honey bees become alert to disturbances and prepare for colony defense much quicker than Europeans. Africanized honey bees also cause 6 to 10 times more stinging than Europeans and will continue to attack for longer periods of time and at much greater distances from the nest or hive. The Africanized honey bee nest is generally smaller than its European counterpart and their nests are often built in exposed areas such as drainage culverts and under highway overpasses.

Eliminating or removing bee nests is a delicate operation that requires special equipment, protective clothing, and skill to prevent stings. Killing bees in a void with an insecticide can come with serious consequences as well:

  • Dead bees and dead brood will decay and produce strong odors.
  • Stored honey can absorb moisture and ferment or overheat without adult bees to tend to it. This can result in burst cappings, producing leaking honey from combs which can penetrate ceiling or walls, causing stains, sticky puddles around doors or windows, and softening of drywall.
  • Other pests, such as ants, carpet beetles, moths, and cockroaches could become a problem as they will be attracted to the odor of the honey and the dead bees.

To avoid these problems it is very important to remove all traces of the nest after the bees are treated. This may require a contractor to open a wall void or ceiling area. Petri can recommend a contractor or professional cleaning service that can remove remaining honey, comb, and dead bees. It is also essential to plug all holes where bees were entering the structure as old nesting sites are extremely attractive to new swarms of honey bees as well as other insects.

Please call Petri’s for more information about honey bees.