Honey Bee Control: Protect Your Home
Scientific Classification: Apis spp.
The honey bee is an agriculturally important insect that lives throughout the United States, including the Mid-Atlantic region. Classified as social insects, honey bees are the only bee species with truly perennial colonies, as hives remain continuously active for numerous years. Honey bee colonies often contain anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 members at any given time. These insects pollinate flowers and crops, in addition to producing honey and wax for worldwide use.
What Do They Look Like?
Size: Workers are usually about 1/2 an inch long, while queens may reach up to 3/4 inches in length. Male drones usually fall somewhere in between.
Color: The body of the honey bee is typically a red to brown color, with the familiar yellow and black bands around the abdomen.
Characteristics: Honey bees generally have a hairy thorax with less hair on the abdomen itself. The legs and head are dark brown or completely black. Near the hind legs, the insects possess a pollen basket which is a flattened area fringed with hairs used to collect and carry pollen back to the hive.
Native to Europe, Western Asia and parts of Africa, the honey bee arrived in North America with European settlers sometime in the 17th century. Today, honey bees are found throughout the United States and most other parts of the world.
What Do They Eat?
Honey bees mainly feed on pollen and nectar collected from blooming flowers. Workers may also eat honey, while larvae are fed a combination of honey, pollen and royal jelly. Secreted from mandibular glands in the heads of worker bees, the amount of royal jelly fed to the developing larvae help determine whether the larvae become new queens or other workers.
Operating according to a caste system, honey bees each perform a specific role in the colony. Queens are the fertile females of the hives, while drones are the males whose sole purpose is to mate with queens from other colonies. Worker bees are always female and provide all the labor for the colony, including building and repairing the hive, foraging for food, producing honey and wax, feeding the young and protecting the nest from invaders.
After mating, the queen will lay eggs individually in hexagonal cells in the hive. Larvae hatch within three to four days and go through several instars before pupating. Depending on the role of the new bee, pupation takes a varied amount of time. New queens usually emerge after 15 days, while workers and drones take around 21 to 24 days to develop, respectively. Select larvae only fully develop into new queens when an old queen dies or when the colony becomes large enough for the current queen to mate and start a new colony.
- May notice swarms of honey bees, indicating a nearby hive.
- Listen for a distinct buzzing sound in wall cavities, under leaves or in trees.
- Experiencing a bee sting typically signifies the presence of the insects.
Problems Caused by Honey Bees
Although honey bees are not aggressive unless threatened, most people associate the insects with being stung. When a honey bee stings, the stinger, venom sac and other parts of the bee become detached from the body which kills the insect. However, the glands associated with the venom sac continue to pump venom into the body of the victim even after the bee dies. Therefore, the stinger should be removed immediately. Though painful, honey bee stings are only dangerous to people with bee allergies.
In addition to posing the threat of stinging, honey bees can damage homes and other structures when they build nests in wall cavities. As the nests expand over time, the size and presence of both honey and beeswax may cause the surrounding plaster and drywall to sag or become stained.
Signs of Infestation
Honey bees sometimes emerge in swarms to look for new nesting sites during spring to late summer. Additionally, the insects may nest in various areas near manmade structures, including sheds, roof eaves and wall voids. Hearing the incessant buzzing of worker bees indicates the presence of a colony, while sighting the bees as they come and go from the nest is often the surest sign of a honey bee infestation.
Keep honey bees from invading by taking preventative measures around the home. Always seal cracks and other possible entry points, and place well-fitted screens over windows and doors. Seal around pipes and electrical conduits going to and from the house. Consistently checking areas where bees like to nest may also help prevent large honey bee infestations from building up over time.
Tips for Removal from Home
Removing honey bees from the home can become a challenging task once nesting takes place. The insects will become defensive once anyone or anything comes near the nest which makes removal without professional assistance both difficult and dangerous. Using insecticides to kill a void nesting colony should be used only as a last resort, as honey bees are beneficial to the environment. Instead, contact a local beekeeper to see about the possibility of relocating the colony to a safer area.
Honey Bee Control – Protecting Nature’s Balance
Western recognizes the important role honey bees play in our environment, and we take every measure to protect them with a targeted honey bee control protocol. Whenever possible, this includes removing them with the help of an experienced beekeeper rather than exterminating. We also limit the types of insecticides used to reduce impact.
Our end goal is to meet your needs while decreasing impact on the honey bee populations overall. As you likely know, the honey bee plays a crucial role in the ecosystem – from pollinating agricultural and ornamental plants to providing venom that is used to create anti-allergy compounds. Respecting that role, we focus on education, helping our clients recognize key bee behaviors and their importance.