Depending on the environment in which you’re living actually encouraging bees can be a good thing. Anyone with even the smallest of gardens knows that bees play an important part in the pollination of many plants and if controlled properly can be a source of honey that can be very beneficial to asthma sufferers in the nearby area. However, having said that, they can also be a nuisance and a pest especially if they swarm near to you.
Some ‘Bee’ Facts
Some species of bee are also less welcome than others. For example the masonry, or miner, type of bee can literally eat away at masonry; having been laid inside the mortar or a crack in a brick as an egg by the queen bee.
A species called the carpenter bee will attack unfinished wood workings whilst even less welcome would be the African Honey Bee. Also known as the ‘killer bee’, which is known to be present in some parts of the American continent.
However, generally speaking bees tend to be non-belligerent unless they themselves are attacked. They are particularly defensive about their own nests. With up to 40,000 bees in any one nest they are best not disturbed intentionally by anyone who doesn’t know how to handle them.
Bee’s nests are made from ‘honeycombs’ of wax and can be found hanging in the cavities of walls and trees or in loft spaces and basements.
If you should see a ‘swarm’ of bees – the best thing to do is to simply ignore it and certainly don’t approach it. The swarm means the bees are actually preparing to leave and go elsewhere to start up a new colony. ie. You won’t need to get rid of them as they’re going anyway! Bee’s usually swarm in late spring and early summer, with the spectacle rarely lasting more than a couple of hours.
The ‘Green’ Way to Remove Unwanted Bees
Before rushing to a DIY chemical solution to the problem you can try contacting a local bee-keeper, or rather a bee-keeping association. If what you see as a problem turns out to be a colony of Honey Bees; they might be willing to remove the bees for you and give them a ‘home’ where they can carry on their more beneficial work.
Alternative Ways of Removing Bees
Colonies of Honey and Bumble bees tend not to cause a problem; they are the less aggressive ones. However, solitary species can be problematic. If your problem is the presence of mining bees, simply plugging any holes in the masonry or re-pointing the mortar will resolve it. If at all possible do this in the late summer, by when the adult bees will have naturally moved out.
There are plenty of commercial aerosols, powder and foams available to kill bees. Spraying or killing an individual bee is rather like the task of Sisyphus, rolling a rock up and down a hill. With up to 40,000 of them it would be a futile gesture.
Unfortunately, for chemical solutions to be effective you’ll need to destroy the whole nest. These chemicals can work in a variety of ways, some by poisoning, and some by rapidly dehydrating the nest while others can work more naturally setting up pheromones that makes the bee’s avoid the nest.
Please keep in mind that you are strongly advised not to attempt to cut down or remove an old bee’s nest; until you are absolutely positive that all the bees have left it or are dead.
photo by Annia316 / CreativeCommons