Honey Bees as Structural Pests

Here is text from “Honey Bees as Structural Pests” an article from The Utah Pest News, produced by the Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab and Utah State University Extension. You can find the complete article at http://utahpests.usu.edu/files/uploads/UtahPests-Newsletter-fall11.pdf. Photo is also from their article.

Honey Bee Hive Built in Ceiling
The honey bees that established this hive in an apartment ceiling were killed previously, but the owner neglected to remove the hive.  The brown area in the center of the hive is where it is being consumed by an infestation of wax moths.  Additionally, honey had begun dripping from the comb and damaging the ceiling.
What if honey bees have actually established a nest on your property?  The pollination services that honey bees provide are vital to our food supply, but their defensive stinging behavior can be a real problem if they’ve built a hive in your yard or even worse, within your walls or attic. If at all possible, you want to avoid killing the bees.  Members of the Utah Beekeepers Association (www.utahbeekeepers.com) may remove these bees for you.  On their website click on the link for “Report a Swarm of Honey Bees!”
Unfortunately, it is a bigger challenge if the bees have established between the walls of your home or elsewhere within the structure.  If this occurs, first you should try to contact a beekeeper to remove them.  Some beekeepers will, but sometimes they are unwilling to, because removing the bees may require cutting away a portion of the wall, which can mean more work and liability than they are willing to accept.  If you are unable to find a beekeeper to remove the bees, you may be forced to kill them.  Many exterminators are able to do this for you, or you may attempt it yourself.  Completely killing all of the bees can be challenging for many reasons in addition to the obvious safety concern.  you don’t know how large the hive is within the wall.  you can kill the adults, but because the pupae will survive, you may need to treat two or three times.  you want to kill the queen so that she doesn’t continue to produce brood, but she could be anywhere within the hive.  And lastly, not all of the bees will be in the hive when you treat it, which is another reason you may need to treat multiple times.
Unfortunately, a bee hive in your wall presents more trouble than just the potential for stings. Once you have successfully killed the bees, you still need to remove the hive from the wall. If you do not, the wax could melt, and the wax and honey will do damage to the wall. Even if the wax doesn’t melt, do you want a lot of wax, honey, and dead bees rotting inside your wall, creating odors and attracting other insects and rodents?  I have actually had people tell me that they’ve dealt with a hive within their wall by simply plugging the entrance hole.  Assuming that the bees did not find another way out, this probably worked to eventually kill them, but it also left behind a lot of wax, honey, and bee corpses to decay within the wall. I would not recommend this as a solution.

-Cory Stanley, USU CAPS Coordinator
Posted in the Honey Company.

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