"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," threatened Mohammed Ali -- and anyone who's ever been stung by a bee can attest to the power of that threat. Bee infestations can pose a constant threat of stings, a potentially deadly development for allergic individuals. Bees can also wreak havoc on your home if you let them take up permanent residence. Here are four important factors in getting to the bottom of your bee problem.
1. What Kind of Bees You Have
If you can identify what kind of bee infestation you have, you'll stand a much better chance of dealing with it safely and successfully. The three principal types of bees you're likely to encounter in and around a home include:
- Honey bees - These little black-and-yellow bees can reach up to five-eights of an inch in length. These bees can swarm and sting, but the fact that the stinger pulls part of their innards out means a honey bee can sting only once before dying.
- Bumble bees - Unlike honey bees, bumble bees can be up to an inch long. They are covered with a fuzz that helps them transport pollen from flower to flower. If you get stung more than once by the same bee, you're dealing with a bumble bee.
- Carpenter bees - Carpenter bees look a lot like bumble bees in size and coloration, but they have a smooth body instead of a fuzzy one. The good news is that carpenter bees only sting when directly provoked. The bad news is they can damage and weaken the wood in your home, including vital support structures such as beams.
2. Where the Bees are Hiding
You can't battle those bees until you know exactly where they're coming from. Figuring this out by sight isn't necessarily easy, but understanding the habits of different types of bees will help. Bumble bees, for instance, like to hide under things. You'll find them under clumps of compost, stacks of old building materials, inside trees, or inhabiting holes in the ground abandoned by other animals. But they can move from your yard of garden into the comparative peace and quiet of your home's structures.
Honey bees are known for their waxy, honey-filled hives. They prefer woody sites such as trees or logs for their construction activities, but they're not opposed to using the wood in your attic or walls. But they require a hole at least half an inch large to make their way into your home.
True to their name, carpenter bees tunnel through wood. When they burrow their way into a home, it tends to be from above. Your attic, roof beams and rafters may be their main hideout, so check these structures first, looking for inexplicable holes and/or stains stains on these structures.
3. Preferred Bee Removal Methods
Honey bee colonies can often be removed from a home's structures without exterminating them. This is the preferred solution, since these creatures are actually quite beneficial to the ecosystem. A professional beekeeper has the necessary equipment, protective clothing, and bee-handling experience to get the job done. Beekeepers also know to perform the essential followup step of extracting all the dead bees and the hive itself. This will help minimize the mess and damage promoted by rotting organic matter and melting wax.
Carpenter bee removal is a tougher proposition. Merely spraying the wooden surfaces in your home with insecticide isn't likely to do much damage to them because they don't really make much contact with those surfaces during their active period. A better strategy involves treating their tunneling holes with insecticide and then sealing the holes for at least 24 hours.
To eliminate bumble bee infestation, pest control companies generally spray Cypermethrin in parts of your yard that may harbor nests, while also spraying the substance on any gaps or holes that might allow entry into the house. This activity should be timed for early evening, when the maximum number of bees congregate in the nests.
4. Preventing Future Bee Problems
Now that you've gotten rid of your bees, how do you keep them from coming back? The preventative strategy you employ depends to some extent on the type of bee you're targeting. You can minimize your bumble bee exposure by clearing away flat surfaces around your home where they might nest, such as wooden boards, flat rocks and old bricks. Clearing out an old honey bee nest will remove the traces of pheromones that might attract future honey bees to the same spot. As for carpenter bees, all you can really do is treat and seal any holes in your home's wood, whether you see any bees or not. Simply plugging the tunnels won't help, because if there are healthy bees inside they will tunnel their way out by creating a new hole in the wood.
You don't have have to share your home with bees. Talk to your local pest control expert about the best options for controlling those unwanted visitors. You'll save your loved ones and yourself a lot of trouble and potential expense -- not to mention those nasty stings! You can also check out sites like http://www.beeremovalnow.com for more help.