Bees. We love bees. Like us, they’re hard workers, and much of their work helps ensure that we have food to eat and an ecosystem to live in. They’re the honeybee, and they just want to do their job. Unfortunately, sometimes they like to make their homes inside our own—and this can lead to problems for everyone involved.
Typically, bees find their way into your home in search of a home of their own. Any exposed areas on the exterior walls of your home can be attractive to the scout bees that search for new hive locations. Like many areas of pest control, this is an area where prevention goes a long way. A honeybee can make its way in and out of openings as small as an eighth of an inch, and you may be surprised by some of the locations they’ll deem suitable. Each spring, as honeybee colonies grow, a mature queen may choose to lay more queen cells and take her existing hive to a new location. This allows for another queen (and drones) to be born after the old queen leaves, in essence splitting the existing hive in two. When this behavior begins, hundreds, if not thousands, of scout bees are sent out to evaluate new locations to make homes of. These scouts find locations they believe to be prime real estate and begin to dance. You read that right… they dance. They dance and hope another scout sees them dancing, in hopes that they’ll join in the dance party. This may sound made up, but it’s not. The bees employ a nearly democratic strategy, and the scout with the most dancing buddies typically wins. This process can take days, and the hive may fly from one target to another before making a final decision. When a queen and her swarm approaches a target, they begin to orbit the place the scout bees have marked, making concentric flights around the location and shortening the radius with each pass. It’s truly an amazing event to witness. Eventually the bees coalesce around their queen, into what can look like a giant ball or ‘swarm’ of bees. The bees may rest on a branch, a wall, or any place they deem fit while deciding where and when to finally move in. This takes place from early spring through the summer months, and, depending on the weather of any given year, this behavior can continue into the fall. Typically, when you see this behavior, the bees are more worried about finding a safe place than animal activity around them, and if you do see this behavior, it is not an automatic cause for alarm. This being said, over the last 20 years, cases of aggressive Africanized bees have grown—and if you don’t know what kind of bee you’re dealing with, you won’t want to find out the hard way. Give the bees space and call a professional if the bees do not leave of their own volition. A professional knows how to remove them safely.
When a hive establishes itself in your home, it can cause many problems. This is especially true of the Africanized variety. There are issues of safety if the bees make their way into your living space. Bee stings are painful and can be lethal. When the honey that bees produce begins to accumulate, it can get heavy, and this can lead to damage to softer parts of your home. The honey can also ferment in large amounts, attracting other pests and causing structural issues on top of cosmetic damage. If you suspect that bees have taken up residence in your home, give us a call, and we’ll work to take care of the situation as safely and efficiently as possible. Also, ask us about our Don’t Bug Me Plan, a hassle free way to make sure your home is only home to you.
**Bee image courtesy of Karunakar Rayker.