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What You Need to Know About Bee Exterminators

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Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 04/19/2024

Bees often get a bad rap thanks to their stingers, but most species won’t sting unless swatted at or otherwise provoked. In fact, honey bees and bumble bees play an important role in pollination, keeping the ecosystem flourishing. However, if these bees are becoming a problem in your yard, or if carpenter bees are attacking your wooden structures, it may be time to consult with a professional pest control company to fix the problem.

We’ll show you how to identify some of the most common types of bees and discuss common methods for removing them. Although this should typically be done only by beekeepers or pest control professionals, we’ll also give you some tips for preventing bee colonies from making their homes on your property.

Identifying Types of Bees

A pest control professional can perform a free inspection to identify the type of bees you’re dealing with. But if you’re curious, there are several ways to tell common bee species apart, including their appearance and where they build their hives.

There are over 250 bumble bee species in the world, and most are fuzzy and large. The most common bumble bee in North America has black and white stripes and stubby wings, and they grow to just a little over 1 inch in length. They typically build their nests close to the ground, like under piles of wood and compost piles. Sometimes they’ll even build nests below ground in abandoned rodent tunnels. Most bumble bee hives typically have several hundred individual bees.
The males do not have stingers, while females do. However, they only sting if they are provoked. Unlike honey bees, whose stingers come off after an attack, bumble bees can sting multiple times and do not lose their stinger.
Honey bees are much smaller than bumble bees, at just about 1/2–5/8 inch. They are yellow or golden brown with narrow black stripes. They build their nests in areas like hollowed out logs and trees, and sometimes fence posts. Honey bee colonies are much larger than bumble bee colonies—there can be anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 bees in one hive.
Honey bees can sting when threatened. When they sting a person, their barbed stinger gets trapped under the skin. The honey bee cannot pull it back out, and dies shortly after stinging.
Carpenter bees look a lot like bumble bees, but carpenter bees are not hairy and have a shiny black abdomen. These bees may live in parks and fields, along with homes that have gardens and sheds. Unlike bumble bees and honey bees, carpenter bees drill holes inside of wood to create a series of “galleries” where they lay their eggs. They are not social creatures, and do not live in colonies.
Only female carpenter bees can sting, and only tend to do so when threatened or provoked.

When to Remove Bees from Your Yard

Unless you or someone in your home has a serious bee sting allergy, there’s no need to panic at the first sight of a bee in your yard. While you may consider bees a nuisance, remember that they can help your garden flourish and pollinate crops all over the world. It’s understandable to have concerns if you are allergic to bee stings. But otherwise, it’s best to leave them alone—unless they’re carpenter bees. This type of bee, also called the “wood bee” drills holes into wood to make its nest, causing structural damage over time.

It’s important to note that reputable pest control companies like Orkin and Terminix will do everything they can to avoid harming beneficial pollinators like bumble bees and honey bees. These species have seen large declines, which has jeopardized our ecosystem.

Thankfully, some species are now protected. Many states have put protections in place, specifically banning the use of pesticides that harm honey bees or bumble bees. At least one species of bee—the rusty-patched bumble bee—is an endangered species, meaning that harming, trapping, or killing these bees is illegal.

How To Remove Bumble Bees and Honey Bees

If you call a pest control company and they identify the bees in your yard as bumble bees or honey bees, they will not exterminate them. Instead, they will contact, or have you contact, local beekeepers. Using a bait trap, the beekeepers will coax the bee colony out of the hive and into a box hive. From there, the beekeepers can relocate these beneficial insects.

You should not try to relocate bees on your own. Without the proper knowledge, experience, and tools, you can upset the hive and provoke them into stinging you.

How Bee Exterminators Work

It’s unlikely carpenter bees will sting you, but they can cause a great deal of damage to your wooden surfaces and structures. In addition to drilling holes, carpenter bees will leave pollen near the entry hole, staining the surface.

In order to get rid of carpenter bees, you’ll have to call a pest control company. After performing a free home inspection, they’ll determine the best course of action.

One option is to remediate the structure the carpenter bees are going into. This can be done by replacing materials with something the bees can’t drill into, or painting and staining the wood—carpenter bees typically stay away from treated wood.

A common method used by pest control companies is either dusting or spraying chemicals into the holes in your wood or the access points. Injecting the treatment will eradicate the bees over time. Keep in mind that this won’t be immediate. The treatment can kill adult bees, but may not harm any eggs that have already been laid if the treatment isn’t residual. The larvae will continue to grow and eventually hatch. Your pest control company will likely have to return to treat and monitor over the course of several seasons.

Different companies have different plans for eliminating carpenter bees. Some offer control and prevention on a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly basis, while others will include bee control as part of a comprehensive annual program. The specific company can work with you to create a treatment schedule after performing the free inspection.

What Not To Do

We strongly recommend you do not try to exterminate bees on your own. It can be dangerous to you, and it can kill harmless bees that actually do a great deal for agriculture. Even if you think you’ve identified carpenter bees, you still shouldn’t take action. Internet research and protective clothing won’t be enough to get the job done.

Do not:

Use diatomaceous earth
Seal the exit hole of a bee hive
Spray chemicals yourself
Pour boiling water directly into a hive
Cover a hive with a tarp and weigh it down to starve bees

How to Prevent Bees

In general, you don’t want to prevent the occasional bee from pollinating your garden. But if you’re worried about bees building hives, there are a few steps you can take.

  • Paint or stain wooden surfaces to keep carpenter bees from drilling into them.
  • Keep garages, sheds, and other outbuildings closed when carpenter bees are looking for new nesting sites in the spring.
  • Seal trash bags that contain sweet foods or liquids to avoid attracting honey bees.
  • To keep bees out of your home, seal all cracks and gaps around windows, doors, pipes, vents, and other holes with caulk.
  • Some sources claim that setting out cucumber peels, garlic cloves, cinnamon sticks, or peppermint oil will temporarily repel bees, but the effectiveness of these methods is uncertain.

Top Recommended Companies for Bee Control

Orkin and Terminix both do their best to not harm beneficial bees and relocate them whenever possible. When specialists have to eliminate carpenter bees, they use either dusts or sprays and inject them directly into drilled holes.

We always recommend getting multiple quotes before making your final decision. If you’d like a free quote from Orkin, call 877-868-1416 or fill out a simple form. To get a free quote from Terminix, call 866-569-4035 or fill out this form.

FAQ About Bee Exterminators

Who do you call to get rid of bees?

You can call a professional pest control company to get rid of bees. If they can be safely relocated, the company will recommend you get in touch with a local beekeeping organization.

Who do you call to get rid of wasps?

Pest control companies can develop a plan to eliminate wasps in your yard or home.

What kills bees instantly?

Although certain pesticides will kill bees instantly, you should never attempt to eliminate bees this way yourself. Consult with a pest control professional about relocating beneficial bees or eliminating carpenter bees.

Our Rating Methodology

We back up our pest control recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review pest control plans, navigate the provider website, speak with customer service representatives by phone and online chat (if available), request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider. We then score the provider against our review standards for plans and services, reputation and customer responses, customer service offerings, workmanship guarantees, financing, and availability to arrive at a final score on a 5-point rating scale.

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