BEES and WASPS
DEALING WITH BEES and WASPSHoney bees live above the ground in a hollow tree or a hole in a building - e.g. an old pipe hole will give bees egress to the inside wall cavity of a house.Bumble bees can live anywhere where they are sheltered and dry. Generally they often take over an abandoned mouse nest - under ground, in a compost heap, under a building and in the insulation of a building’s wall or ceiling.Wasps generally build a nest in the ground - a bank where a root has rotted away creating a small cavity which they enlarge but they will also build nests in a wood pile, a roll of carpet, or in the roof cavity of a building. The nest is oval in shape and made from rotten wood chewed to form a papier mache structure.DESTRUCTION.HONEY BEES At swarming time October to December despite the beekeepers efforts, some hives will swarm and establish another colony. Before they swarm, they send out scouts to find a new home. These scout bees will fly in and out of the selected sites recruiting workers to the best site. If you observe a few bees coming and going (20 -50 bees) apply fly spray to the entrance hole. This will kill the worker bees and disguise the pheromone marker the bees leave to signal “here it is”.
Bees when swarming will often gather on a branch in a ball (the size of a football or larger) until a new home is found. At this stage it’s easy for the beekeeper to pick them up. They are not defensive at this time as they are not protecting their hive. (Call your local beekeeper if you know him/her or the city council or regional council or Citizens Advise Bureau and they will give you a beekeeper contact number. Local beekeeper contact numbers here ?Generally we do not recommend that bees are killed unless they have established in a building. If left alone, the bees will generally die out (varroa will kill them) during the winter, however another swarm will come along next year attracted by the smell of the beeswax. Therefore it’s best to seal up any obvious hive entrance with expanding foam.It is possible to remove a nest from a building but this can take up to 4-6 hours and will involve removing the cladding or inner wall lining so it’s not worth it. Another alternative is for a beekeeper to place a small hive in front of the existing hives and place a one-way trap across the entrance so the incoming bees cannot return to the nest. They will join the small hive instead. It will take about 6 weeks for the nest in the building to become depleted of bees making it easy to kill the remaining bees left inside the cavity (the queen and a few hundred workers).Bees in a building are harder to kill because there are so many of them. A swarm entering a cavity usually number between 7 and 15 thousand bees. The larger number of bees is the reason it takes longer to kill them.Fly spray can be effective if the nest itself is located close to the entrance. You can generally tell where the body of the bees are by the warmth they give off. Run your hand over the inside of the wall or ceiling until you find where it’s warm (bees maintain a temperature of 35 deg C). If the nest is adjacent the entrance hole, you can use fly spray. Late afternoon spray in six or more, 30 second bursts of fly spray into the entrance. (Work from the side). Wait for the bees that come flying out to diminish (the first layer in the cluster), before applying another burst of spray and repeat. It’s better to kill them this way rather than seal them in the wall. Dead bees will smell when the nest breaks down as the colony is the size of a cat.Note: Bees get angry when sprayed so there is a possibility that you could get stung! If in doubt, call a professional exterminator.BUMBLE BEES Generally we do not recommend that they are killed. They are relatively gentle and will only sting when provoked – i.e. when the nest is disturbed.Bumble bees do not over-winter. A single queen starts a colony. She produces three or four generations, (each generation of bumble bees are slightly larger as there are more bees bringing in more food) until on the fourth generation, queens and drones are produced at which point the whole colony breaks down. The queen’s mate and go elsewhere looking to start another colony. They do not use the same nesting site again.Any insecticide powder sprinkled down the nest entrance when the ground is dry will kill the nest however some bees will access under a house through a ventilation grating and walk 5 metres to the nest so poisoning them using powder will not work.
A wasp nest starts off with a single over-wintered queen and steadily builds up in numbers (workers) during the summer. Wasps have a niche in the eco-system. They prey on other pest insects so do some good. Most residents are not aware of the presence of a wasp nest until it has been established for three months. It’s at this time that numbers have built up and you suddenly come across them (they find you) when you are gardening. Wasps nests build up to number many thousand and in the autumn produce queens and drones. To do this they require carbohydrates so collect these from ripe fruit or attack bee hives and steal the honey.If we have a mild dry winter, some colonies are able to maintain themselves and continue building in numbers, making multiple nests – the biggest ones reported were the size of a mini car.Any vibration through the ground will alert the nest and wasps defend the nest rather aggressively. Generally if you are not careful, you will get stung by wasps and their stings do hurt. Only attempt to destroy a small nest (a single entrance) otherwise leave it to the professionals.A table-spoon of insecticide powder down the entrance hole will dispatch a nest within an hour. Dusk is the best time just after they have ceased flying. The trick to doing this is to approach the nest on “tip toe” from the side. Any vibration will alert the wasps so go slowly and carefully.Alternatively, a A one litre bottle of petrol or diesel forced into the entrance after dark will kill a nest by edification. Leave the bottle in the hole for a day.If you do this after dark and are using a torch, the wasps will be attracted to the torch light so place it on the ground some distances away from you rather than carry it.Note: Insecticide powder can be dangerous if breathed in or handled incorrectly.