How to Get Rid of Honeybees in Your Home Without Harming Them

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Home Improvement

If you find bees swarming around your house, don’t panic. This is the time when they are least likely to harm anyone. Alex Desanshe/Shutterstock

While enjoying the warm April weather in my Georgia backyard, I noticed a swarm of insects near my house. After consulting several experts, it was confirmed that honeybees were on our property and had made their way into our basement through cracks in the stonework and air vent.

I don’t mind pollinators on my property, but it’s a different story when they are inside my house. I told my husband not to worry as I had heard that beekeepers would remove them for free. However, when honeybees involve a structure in their relocation plans, it becomes a bigger issue.

Reasons for Bees Swarming Your Home

If honeybees show up around your house, don’t panic. “When honeybees are swarming, they’re at their most gentle,” says Julia Mahood, a Georgia master craftsman beekeeper and board member with the Pollinator Stewardship Council. This is because they are looking for a new home and are not defending an existing nest. Additionally, they gorge on honey before leaving, so they are not aggressive.

Honeybees swarm when they need to reproduce and are looking for a new home. Scout bees are sent out to find a suitable location, ideally a hollow tree. In the absence of that, they often choose structures like houses, with cavities that are around 40 liters in size, making the space between a home’s outer wall and drywall ideal. If scout bees find a suitable location, they will communicate their findings to the rest of the hive, which will then move to the new location.

If honeybees have already settled in your home, it’s best to contact a beekeeper to remove them. If they have not yet settled, seal all cracks and gaps in your home to prevent them from entering.

What to Do if Bees Build a Hive in Your Home

If you find that bees have built a hive in your home, it is important to act quickly. Once they have settled in, they will start to collect nectar and lay eggs, which could result in up to 50,000 bees and 200 pounds of honey in your walls. Removing a hive from a structure is much more difficult than collecting a swarm, and in some places, such as Georgia, it is required that removal companies be licensed and insured for beehive removal from a structure. These removal companies can charge around $1,000 for the service, but it is important to note that bee removal services require workers with a construction background who know how to remove the hive without damaging the structure. In Georgia, regular beekeepers are not allowed to remove honeybees from a structure without a special license, which can result in a $10,000 fine.

Some homeowners may choose to leave the hive in place if it is not causing any problems, but this is not recommended. If the hive is not removed, other bees may be attracted to the scent of their friends and try to move in. Additionally, spraying poison into the cavity to kill the bees is not a good idea, as it will cause the honeycomb to degrade and attract ants, rodents, and other pests. The buildup of organic matter can also cause damage to the structure and result in a costly cleanup job.

If you suspect that bees have built a hive in your home, it is important to observe the bees coming in and out of your property to determine if the hive-building process has begun. If you see bees with pollen on their legs, it is a sign that the hive is established and action should be taken to remove it.

According to Gatt, the use of broad-spectrum pesticides by commercial agriculture has led to the unintended consequence of killing off native bees that are important pollinators for crops such as apples, peaches, plums, and blackberries. This has resulted in many farms having to rent beehives from beekeepers to ensure pollination. However, the good news is that if a swarm of bees is found elsewhere on your property, many beekeepers will happily remove it for free. It is easy to find a licensed beekeeper in your area by searching for a beekeepers’ association, like the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association, which often operate a “swarm line” or offer other contact information to report a swarm and request assistance. Unfortunately, home remedies like spraying peppermint oil or sprinkling cinnamon to drive bees away are ineffective. However, it is possible to deter honeybees from pursuing a property by using water, though this is only an option outside of a home. Spring is the most common season for swarms, with the highest likelihood of occurrence in March, April, or May, according to Gatt. Summer swarms happen less frequently and are usually smaller.

FAQ

1. What should I do if I find a honeybee hive in my home?

If you find a honeybee hive in your home, the first step is to identify the location of the hive and the entry point the bees are using. Once you have done this, it is important to contact a local beekeeper or pest control professional who can safely remove the hive without harming the bees.

2. Can I remove the hive myself?

Removing a honeybee hive yourself can be dangerous, as honeybees can become agitated and may attack if they feel threatened. It is best to leave the removal of a honeybee hive to a professional who has the necessary equipment and experience to do so safely.

3. Why is it important to not kill honeybees?

Honeybees are essential for pollinating crops and plants, and their populations have been in decline in recent years due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and disease. Killing honeybees can further contribute to this decline, and it is important to protect their populations whenever possible.

4. What are some non-lethal ways to remove honeybees?

Non-lethal ways to remove honeybees include using a bee vacuum or trap to safely capture the bees and relocate them to a new hive location. Another option is to use a bee repellent spray or powder that will encourage the bees to leave the area, rather than killing them.

5. How can I prevent honeybees from entering my home?

To prevent honeybees from entering your home, seal any cracks or gaps in your walls, roof, or foundation. Make sure your windows and doors are properly screened, and keep your outdoor trash and compost bins covered and away from your home.

6. What should I do if I am stung by a honeybee?

If you are stung by a honeybee, remove the stinger as soon as possible by scraping it off with a credit card or similar object. Apply a cold compress to the affected area to reduce swelling and pain, and take an over-the-counter pain reliever if necessary.

7. What is the best time of day to remove a honeybee hive?

The best time of day to remove a honeybee hive is in the evening, when the bees are less active and more likely to be inside the hive. This will make removal safer and more efficient for both the bees and the removal professional.

8. How long does it take to remove a honeybee hive?

The length of time it takes to remove a honeybee hive depends on the size and location of the hive, as well as the method being used to remove it. In general, removal can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day.

9. How much does it cost to remove a honeybee hive?

The cost of removing a honeybee hive can vary depending on the location and size of the hive, as well as the method being used to remove it. On average, removal can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 or more.

10. Is it safe to have honeybees on my property?

If you have a safe and secure location for a honeybee hive on your property, it can be a great way to support local pollinator populations and enjoy fresh honey. However, it is important to take proper precautions and work with a professional to ensure the hive is properly maintained and managed.

11. How can I support honeybee populations in my area?

To support honeybee populations in your area, you can plant a variety of native flowers and plants that provide food and habitat for bees. You can also support local beekeepers and purchase honey and other bee products from them.

12. What are some common misconceptions about honeybees?

Common misconceptions about honeybees include that they are aggressive and will attack without provocation, or that they are attracted to human food or sweets. In reality, honeybees are typically docile and only sting when they feel threatened, and they are attracted to flowers and other sources of nectar and pollen.

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