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Hey, you're in the home improvement zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Bug Control / Insect Control / Pest Control Category: Bees and Wasps

Improvement Project:

How to get rid of bees and wasps and prevent their infestation.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

Guide:

Did you know that up to 100 people die as a result of a bee or wasp sting each year, mostly because of an adverse allergic reaction they have to the venom that is released as part of the sting attack? Therefore, if you are one of the approximately 1% of the U.S. population that is allergic to bee or wasp venom, you should consult your primary care doctor to see if you should carry an emergency epinephrine injection kit. 

To effectively get rid of bees and wasps and prevent any future encounter with them in or around your house, you'll need to know a little about them, and such pertinent information follows:

Physical Description:

Bees and wasps, while related, have different physical characteristics.  Generally, whereas wasps have an increasingly narrow waistline from top to bottom, bees do not have a narrow waistline in relation to the rest of their body.  Below are specific physical characteristics of the bees and wasps:

Bees:  3 Types

Bumble bee.  The bumble bee is about a half of an inch to 1 inch long, has yellow and black stripes, and has some fuzz (i.e., fine hair), including around its abdomen.

Carpenter bee.  The carpenter bee looks like the bumble bee, but it has a completely black, smooth abdomen, whereas the bumble bee has a yellow-and-black abdomen with some fuzz covered over it.  The male carpenter bee's face is colored yellow, whereas the female carpenter bee's face is colored black.  The carpenter bee is also about a half of an inch to 1 inch long.

Honey bee.  The honey bee is about a half of an inch long, of a honey-brown color and is virtually covered with fuzz.

Wasps: 3 Types

Wasps, in general, have very little to no hair.

Hornet.  The hornet is about 3/4 of an inch long, and white and black in color.

Paper wasp.  The common paper wasp is about 3/4 of an inch long, of a brownish-red color, and has a distinctively long, cylindrically-segmented abdomen.

Yellowjacket (or some spell it as two words, "yellow jacket").  The yellowjacket is about 5/8 of an inch to 1 inch long, and has yellow and black stripes, including around its abdomen.

Diet:

Bees

Generally, bees, including their larvae (i.e., young bees), feed on pollen and nectar.

Wasps

Generally, wasps, including particularly hornets and yellowjackets, eat meats, some insects and sweets, such as fruit; larvae of wasps are fed insects, such as spiders, which are given to them by adult wasps.

Habit:

Bees

Bumble bee.  The bumble bees defend their territory by stinging.  They nest (a nest is also known as a "gallery") in crevices and voids of walls, air vents (of evaporative coolers), abandoned burrows/holes of rodents, sheds, attics, wood piles, and even under tree logs and stones.  They produce non-human-edible honey from their beneficial pollination of plants.  Unlike other bees, who cease to forage at temperatures below 61° F, the bumble bees continue to forage at temperatures under 50° F.  The adult bees die when the winter season comes around.

Carpenter bee.  The carpenter bees defend their territory by stinging (though males have no stingers with which to sting, so their buzzing is for only intimidation).  They create their nests in wood by boring holes through it; they prefer unpainted and otherwise unfinished wood.  Signs of their existence is fine sawdust around your wood.  Look for such bored holes in soffits, overhangs, siding, decks, window and door frames, and fence posts.

Honey bee.  The honey bees defend their territory by stinging.  They create their nests in tree holes and houses/buildings (including in the crevices and voids of walls and in attics, air vents of evaporative coolers).  They are able to survive the cold of winter in their nests, which accounts for why colonies can reach up to around 50,000 bees.

Wasps

Hornet.  The hornets aggressively defend their territory by stinging.  They maintain their presence around trees and other structures.  They are known for their creations of nests, the size of big soccer balls, that hang from tree branches and other structures.

Paper wasp.  The paper wasps defend their territory by stinging.  They are the most common type of wasp one can encounter around buildings and other constructed objects.  Their nests, shaped in the form of umbrellas, commonly hang like upside-down umbrellas from the eaves of houses and branches of trees, among other structures.  In order to survive the winter season, they must seek shelter, and usually do so by entering structures like abandoned buildings and otherwise houses.

Yellowjacket.  The yellowjackets are known to really aggressively defend their territory by stinging, and can do so repeatedly without losing their stingers like those of the honey bees.  Yellowjackets are known to create their nests in the crevices and voids of walls, attics, air vents (of evaporative coolers), and the ground.  They are most active during the times of late summer when the temperature is not so hot.

Control Treatments:

Quick Wasp Control Treatment in Preparation of an Outside Party: (1) Natural Method:

If you and your family and friends are set to have dinner or lunch outside, and you find that an increasing amount of wasps are heading towards your gathering table outside, you may want to set up a sweet trap for such wasps, and this can easily be done with material that you may already have at home.  Specifically, all you'll need are the following: an empty food container, usually found to hold about 13 oz., together with its lid, which may have previously contained butter, sour cream, cottage cheese or other food product; some sugar; some water; and a knife. 

What you'll want to do first is use a knife to cut a small hole (just enough for a wasp to enter) in the center of the lid of the food container.  Then, you'll want to put a decent amount of sugar into the empty food container and then have it mixed up with the pouring of some water that should amount to about 2/5 of the food container.  Once this water is mixed up with the sugar into a sugary liquid inside the food container, all you'll need to do next is close the food container with the lid.  Then, just place this lid-closed food container somewhere away from the gathering table, but obviously somewhere still easily accessible for the wasps to reach it.  Done right, you'll find that the wasps will have less of an interest to hover around your table and be more attracted to the scent of the sugary water, and as each wasp consequently gets inside the food container through the lid hole, none of them will be able to get out of the container because each will be stuck inside. 

Long-Term Control Treatments: (2) Nest Removal and Insecticide Sprays:

 

The key to bee and wasp control is the removal of their nests from your property.  This should be done by professional pest control experts; this is especially true if the nest is located in difficult places to reach, such as crawlspaces, attics, or voids of walls.  Removing a small wasp nest hanging from a structure, such as a tree or a roof eave, should only be done at night, a time when the wasps are least active and the least likely to fly and attack.  You can simply use a long stick or pole to knock down the small wasp nest; this should cause the wasps to look for another nesting place. 

Alternatively, to chemically destroy nests at night, you may consider applying dust or wettable powder insecticides into nests; in doing so, you'll likely need to use aerosol knockdown sprays to knock down any wasps/bees that may come after you, since applying such insecticides will cause you to be in front of a nest a lot longer than it would take to knock it down with a pole or stick. 

In either instance, one should consider wearing bee-protection clothing, such as a bee suit.  Also, if you need light to see at night, do not bring along any sort of light with you--be it a flashlight or otherwise--unless your light is covered with a red lens or red cellophane (i.e., a transparent cellulose material usually used for wrapping), as wasps nor bees can see red light. 

If you resort to using the above dust or wettable powder insecticide and you find that one application of it is not enough, you'll need to apply some more of it.  Such insecticide products are available at hardware stores, home improvement centers, department stores, and pest control supply stores.  Such dust and wettable powder residual insecticides include the following:  Delta Dust; Demon WP; Cyper WP; Tempo WP; and Suspend SC.

Once applied, these products will offer their insecticide protection for a limited time before their effectiveness wears off and, consequently, another application is required.

Caution: Of course, when dealing with insecticide products, make sure you take precautions; read all product manufacturer instructions. 

Prevention:

Prevention in General

Keep attractants under control.  Securely enclose and keep away from exposure all the items that may attract bees and wasps, which include sweets, meats and other foods, even those that are designated for the trash; such scraps of food, when thrown out, should be securely enclosed in a trash can.

Porous-free.  Make sure that your house is as sealed as can be, and this includes doing the following:  Using a caulking gun, cocked with a caulking tube of the appropriate caulking, seal all porous openings to your house, such as foundation cracks, window crevices, wall crevices in general, and particularly the crevices surrounding the utility lines that enter your house walls.  Make sure that all vents and flashing are properly secured, that the sidings and eaves of your house are properly enclosed, and that, as applicable, your house chimney is properly secured with a cap.

Wood maintenance.  Keep brush and specifically tree branches trimmed enough so that they do not make contact with the house.  Furthermore, if you store any sort of wood outside, be sure to keep such wood off the ground by laying it over bricks so that the bricks are the only objects touching the ground and not the wood, itself. Put a weather-resistant tarp over the entire pile of wood.

Personal Prevention

Things that you and your family can do to your own personal selves to avoid the interests of bees and wasps when you're out and about include the following:  Not wearing vibrantly bright colors, such as yellow and orange, and otherwise not wearing flower-pattern clothing; not wearing sweetened scents that may come in the form of perfume or cologne; and not carrying with you, or otherwise being very cautious in carrying, foods and drinks that may be particularly appetizing to bees and wasps, such as soda.

The above information should prove to be useful in attempting to learn how to effectively get rid of bees and wasps and prevent any future encounter with them in or around your house.

Ed the Handyman

            &

Your Handyman Zone Team

 

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