Do it Yourself Bee Removal: Not Such a Good Idea

When confronted with a beehive or swarm on your property, often the first thought is, “How the heck can I get rid of these things?” For most this means getting in touch with local bee removal experts to safely remove the bee infestation. But for those looking to save a buck on removal costs or have the “I can do this myself” mentality, a do it yourself bee removal project might be considered. If you are the latter, there are a few things you need to know before taking on these potentially life-threatening pests from your home or property.  

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. Desert Swarm appreciates DIY projects, but it is not something we recommend in bee removal. Human and pet safety is always our primary concern. All too often, we see DIY bee removals gone horribly wrong leaving homeowners with a bigger headache than what they started with. 

So far this year, there have been numerous bee attacks in Arizona on both humans and pets. Tragically, some of these attacks have been fatal. Earlier this year, a dog was attacked in Green Valley by a bee swarm and suffered nearly 500 stings. Desert Swarm Owner, Greg Williams was called to the scene and interviewed by News 4 Tucson to provide insight on what happened. 

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 searches and articles with guides on DIY bee removal. These “guides” all too often describe a procedure that appears straightforward but can quickly become more complicated and more costly than it actually is. 

Many guides will explain that the first step to a do it yourself removal is to get protective equipment. This is something that all bee removal experts use, but when it comes to getting this equipment yourself, it could prove to be a costly and timely endeavor. Not using designating beekeeping attire will result in inadequate protection and coverage and could open you up to serious injury from the bee swarm. 

Here are some of the most common DIY bee removal mistakes that we see people make.

Sealing up a Bee 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.

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!

2) 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.

3) 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.

Using Household Cleaners and Soaps for Bee Spray 

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. 

Smoking Bees Out of Their Hive

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 as your removal tool.

Waiting it Out

Waiting for an established hive to leave on their own is a common DIY mistake. 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!

Do it Yourself Bee Removal: Not Such a Good Idea

With over 7 years bee removal experience in Southern Arizona, we have seen thousands of instances of residents trying their hand at removing bees themselves only to cause more damage to their home, exacerbate the infestation, or end up getting stung. We hope you take these risks into account and strongly consider calling a bee removal or pest control professional before trying to removal them on your own. 

More content on this can be found on our blog post: Common Do it yourself bee removal mistakes