Common ‘Do-it-Yourself’ Bee Removal Mistakes

By Allison Williams, Co-Owner of Desert Swarm Bee Removal LLC

Desert Swarm appreciates DIY projects, but it is not something we recommend in bee removal. All too often, we see DIY bee removals gone horribly wrong leaving homeowners with a bigger headache than what they started with. We are faced with Africanized honey bees in AZ, and disturbing a hive can quickly escalate into homeowners, neighbors, and pets being stung or even attacked. Human and pet safety is always our primary concern.

Most homeowners do not have the knowledge and experience to perform a safe removal, so we always recommend calling a professional bee removal company or beekeeper. Please do not rely on Google for finding DIY solutions in bee removal, especially since our bee situation in AZ is different from the rest of the country. If it was that simple, there would be more people willing to perform removals of Africanized hives. For those considering tackling their own bee removal, we have listed the most common DIY bee removal mistakes that we see.

Sealing up an Infestation: Spray Foam is Not Your Friend This is a common scenario. A homeowner spots just a few bees flying under the roof eave and consistently entering a small crack. He/she decides that sealing the crack with spray foam or caulk is the solution for keeping the bees out of the roof. This is a huge mistake. The bees observed coming and going by the homeowner are only a small portion of the number of bees inside the roof which can be misleading to the untrained eye.  Typically, the homeowner unknowingly seals up an infestation composed of 6,000-10,000 honey bees inside their roof.

Hive in roof
Established Africanized beehive in a roof

The following three problems can result from sealing up the bee entry/exit of an active hive:

  1. Bees may flood into your home

Bees require an entry and exit to their hive from the outside world. When this is taken away, the bees inside the roof will search for another way out. Bees are attracted to light and will find ways into your home though vents and light fixtures. Nobody wants a hive of irritated bees to flush into the interior of their home!

  1. Returning, foraging bees may become defensive as they look for access

While the homeowner is busy sealing up the infestation, bees that were outside of the hive collecting pollen or nectar return to find that the entry to their home is gone. They have invested a lot of time in their hive and will not give up easily. In this scenario, it is common to see hundreds, if not thousands, of agitated bees flying around the home intent on finding access back to their hive. Many times, they will find a way back to their hive leaving a homeowner with an unresolved issue. Their agitation may also cause them to act defensively of their home leading to stings.

  1. It becomes more difficult for the bee removal expert to diagnose the full extent of the issue, potentially costing you more time and money

To properly diagnose the full extent of a bee infestation and presence of hive material in a roof or wall, the bee specialist looks for the original location of the bee entry/exit. Bees are efficient creatures and will build hive material relatively close to that entrance. If the entry/exits are sealed and bees are entering through various other locations, this becomes a bit of a wild goose chase for the bee specialist.

Soapy Water & Over-the-Counter Wasp/Bee Spray are not Always the Answer We have received countless calls from defeated homeowners who have tried over-the-counter bee and wasp spray or a soapy water solution to resolve their bee issue. They are typically stung in the process and create a bigger mess. For a pesticide to be effective, each and every bee in the hive needs to be contacted. If the hive is inside a structure such as a wall or roof, it is impossible for a homeowner to properly apply the pesticide/soapy water on a hive of 6,000-10,000 bees.  This can quickly become a very dangerous situation as the hive becomes disturbed and agitated. Please contact a professional. A bee removal/pest control company should be licensed by the State of Arizona Office of Pest Management to legally apply pesticides and should know how to properly deal with large hives inside our man-made structures.

Lighting Fire and Smoking out the Bees  Regardless of what Google says,  bees cannot be smoked out and convinced to leave their hive.  The bees have a lot invested in their hive (honey, brood, queen, etc.), and although the smoke will confuse the bees and reduce their aggressiveness temporarily, this is not a long term solution for bee removal.  The bees will always win if you choose smoke is your removal tool.

Waiting out an Established Hive & Hoping They Will Leave On their Own A common DIY mistake is simply doing nothing and hoping the bees will eventually leave their established hive.  After waiting a week or even a month, you check on the hive, and they are still there.  Rather than a new infestation, you are now dealing with well-established bees and honeycomb which needs to be removed.  If not removed, honey will melt down your walls, other pests will be attracted to your house, and future bees will return!  Waiting costs you money!  A bee issue never gets better with time, only worse!