Bees are one of the most important insects on the planet, but when they build nests near or in your home, they can be a nuisance or a downright danger.
Populations of some types of bees (like honey bees) are in trouble, and there are safe ways to remove them using professional methods. But you can also take matters into your own hands, and get rid of these buzzing insects on your own.
We’re going to show you the best methods for removing bees and repelling them from your home.
Table of Contents
- Why You Need to Get Rid of Bees
- How Can You Tell if You Have Bees?
- How to Get Rid of Bees: The Complete Guide You Ever Need
- Get Rid of Bees In the Ground
- Get Rid of Bees In Your House
- Get Rid of Bees Outside
- Get Rid of Bees Around the Pool
- Get Rid of Bees In Siding
- How to Keep Bees Away
- Professional Bee Extermination
- Extra reading: Honey Bees 101: 11 Fun Facts and Questions Explored
Why You Need to Get Rid of Bees
Unless you’re a professional beekeeper, you probably don’t want a beehive in your backyard – or your home for that matter. There are a number of reasons to get rid of bee nests:
If you or someone in your family has a bee allergy, you’re literally putting your or their life at risk by not removing their nest from your property.
You’re more likely to get stung by a bee if you’re near their hive. And for someone with a bee allergy, stings are bad news. Depending on the severity of the allergy, a few stings can lead to a trip to the ER, or death in some cases.
For most people, bee stings are painful, but the pain and swelling go away within a few hours. However, for those who are allergic to bee venom, the results can be much worse. Approximately 5% of the population is allergic to bee venom, but only 1% of children and 3% of adults have experienced a response so severe that it triggered anaphylaxis, causing breathing difficulties that may lead to death. However, current allergy tests are highly inaccurate in terms of predicting the likelihood or severity of an allergic response to a bee sting.
More specifically, among people who report having a prior reaction to a bee sting, when scientists subsequently test them with controlled bee venom, 40% of people who previously had a severe reaction had a second severe reaction, but 60% had a milder reaction. Among those with a prior mild reaction, 17% had a more severe reaction in the test environment. Up to 30% of people who had previous severe reactions to bee stings do not react to skin tests, and 6% of people who don’t react to skin tests have gone on to have anaphylaxis in response to bee stings.
Finally, not all bee stings are created equal; there are two different types of wasp venom, and several different types of bee venom, and not everyone reacts the same to either type. Blood tests and immune responses differ widely between those with bee allergies.
In short, it is unusually difficult to predict how severe an allergic reaction to bees might be for a given individual. Most people remain at approximately the same level of sensitivity, but individual stings might have milder or more severe reactions, based on factors we don’t fully understand at this time.
Despite these risks, the truth is that the vast majority of bees are not only harmless, but beneficial to people and the environment. However, due to these risk factors, it’s important to always use caution around bees, and it’s understandable to want to remove or kill them, particularly if the hive is located close enough to human activity that it may trigger the bees to behave defensively.
Even if you’re not allergic to bee stings, you probably don’t want to take the risk of getting stung every time you spend time in your backyard or go in the attic.
Depending on the type of bee, stings can be very painful. Honey bees and bumblebees have some of the most painful stings of all bee species, and they’re the most common type you’ll encounter.
Stings can lead to pain and swelling because the stinger contains venom.
Multiple stings can be extremely painful, and increase your risk of an allergic reaction. Bees that build nests in the ground are easier to agitate, so you’re at even greater risk of getting stung multiple times (especially if you have children or pets).
Some types of bees can get aggressive in hot weather, or if there are no flowers nearby to pollinate. Others are extremely protective of their nests.
There are some types of bees that will chase people for more than a quarter of a mile if they get too close to their nest.
Even if you do your best to avoid hives in trees or the ground, you may accidentally aggravate them when you do lawn work. Lawn mowers and weed wackers have been known to agitate bees, making them more aggressive and prone to stinging. Some homeowners find themselves being chased by a swarm of bees when this happens.
As you can see, you don’t want bees sticking around in your backyard – especially if they’re aggressive or if you’re allergic.
How Can You Tell if You Have Bees?
Bees have been known to build nests in walls, attics and underneath roof beams. While these clever locations are great for keeping the nest safe, it can make it difficult for us humans to determine if we have an infestation, or if bees are just visiting our yard.
How can you tell if you have an infestation? Here are some signs:
- An excessive amount of bees in your yard or garden. If you’re seeing an abnormally high level of bee activity in and around your yard (or your home), bees may be making nests on your property.
- Dead bees in your home. If bees are making nests in your walls or attic, you may find dead bees in windowsills or near doors.
- Buzzing noises in the wall. If there are nests in the wall, you may hear buzzing from all the bee activity.
- Nests under roof eaves or in the ground. You may also find active or inactive nests under the eaves in your home, or in the ground.
- Unpleasant odors. If there are honeycombs in the walls that have not been completely removed, you may notice an unpleasant odor. These honeycombs will still contain honey, which emits a strong odor when it decomposes. Decomposing honey will also leave dark spots on your walls and ceilings.
- Holes in wooden structures. Female carpenter bees bore holes into wood to build nests. If you have an infestation of carpenter bees, you may notice these holes on wooden decks, wood underneath the home, and other wooden structures on your property.
If you suspect you have a bee infestation, follow the tips below to get rid of them.
How to Get Rid of Bees: The Complete Guide You Ever Need
There are several ways to get rid of bees in and around your home. Just a warning: DIY bee control can be dangerous. There’s a very risk of getting stung, so if you’re allergic, you should contact a professional to take care of the job.
We’re going to show you how to get rid of bees in some of the most common places:
Get Rid of Bees In the Ground
There are several types of bees (wasps, too) that build nests in the ground. It may be helpful to first learn what type of ground bees you’re dealing with, so you can choose the right removal method.
With the exception of honeybees, most ground bees will abandon their nests in the fall.
Thankfully, most ground bees are non-aggressive, but some are known to be defensive. Use the methods below to get rid of the ground bees terrorizing your backyard.
1. Tarping the Nest
If you prefer to use environmentally-friendly methods, tarping is a great option – but can be risky.
With this method, tarps are placed over the nest, and heavy items (like bricks or stones) are placed on all sides of the tarp. For this method to be truly effective, it needs to be done at night when most (or all) of the bees are in the nest.
Because the bees are in the nest when you place the tarp, you risk agitating them and getting stung.
Wear dark clothing when you do this to draw as little attention as possible to yourself. If you can, convince friends to help you, so you can lay down the tarp and the heavy items as quickly as possible.
2. Soapy Boiling Mint Water
The only real way to get rid of your bee problem is to attack the source: the nest. Since you’re dealing with ground bees, there’s a good chance you already know where the nest is located.
With a little soapy boiling mint water, you can kill all the bees in the hive, and their eggs.
Here’s What You’ll Need
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups peppermint castile soap
- 1 kettle of boiling water
Mix the water and castile soap together. Keep the kettle of boiling water on hand.
Mint oil can kill just about any insect, but the boiling soapy water would likely kill the bees on its own.
Before you run out and start pouring things down into the nest opening, make sure that you take the time to change into protective clothing. Cover yourself up as much as possible to avoid getting stung.
Consider using an extension device, like a hose or a water can, when doing this to keep your body as far away from the nest as possible.
- Start by pouring the mixture of regular water and soap down into the nest.
- Next, pour the boiling water into the nest opening.
- Run back into the house (hopefully unscathed).
The boiling water will help spread the mint oil in the soap further down into the nest.
3. D-Force HPX
If you’d rather go the chemical route, you can use D-Force HPX to get rid of the ground bees in your yard.
D-Force is an insecticide in a pressurized can. Its active ingredient is Deltamethrin, which is a synthetic pyrethroid. It attacks the bee’s nervous system, causing it to become paralyzed. Eventually, the bee dies.
The great thing about D-Force is that you can target a specific location, so you don’t have to spray your entire yard. The spray can be applied directly to the nest, or the bees themselves.
Always wear protective clothing when spraying insecticides near or at a nest.
D-Force will provide 8 weeks of protection, and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Just make sure to keep kids and pets away from the treated area.
If you don’t want to use D-Force, you can use any bee insecticide that is labeled for use with bees. Be sure to follow directions appropriately, and take precautions by wearing protective clothing when applying any type of insecticide.
Get Rid of Bees In Your House
If you have bees in your house, there’s a good chance there’s a nest in the wall, attic, or somewhere else in your home. This can make removal more difficult or dangerous, but also more imperative. Sharing your home with bees is never a good idea.
4. Call an Exterminator
If you don’t care which methods are used to get rid of the bees, calling in a local exterminator is an option. You may also have a hard time finding a beekeeper willing or able to remove the nest from your home.
Exterminators will likely employ measures that will kill the bees, so do not make this decision lightly.
Pesticides will likely be used to kill the bees, and given the inherent risk and difficulty of removing nests, you’ll likely pay a higher price for professional extermination.
The first treatment will likely only kill bees close to the surface of the nest. New pupa will emerge in a few days, so the exterminator will likely come back to perform several more treatments before the bees are eradicated.
Exterminators usually only kill bees, and will not remove the nest itself or the dead bees, so keep this in mind.
If you do hire an exterminator, make sure that you remove all the dead bees and all of the nest. Remember, if any traces of honeycomb are left behind, the rotting honey will emit a foul odor.
Take care when handling dead bees and the nest, as they were both treated with pesticides.
5. Call a Beekeeper
Honey bee populations are in trouble, so bringing in a beekeeper to safely remove the bees without killing or harming them is a smart option.
In many cases, beekeepers will remove the nest and the bees. Some will do this for free, but others may charge a fee for their services. If the nest is relatively easy to remove, the beekeeper may actually pay you to remove the nest.
Usually, beekeepers cut honeycombs out with the brood still inside. The honeycombs are placed in frames, and transferred to a hive box.
If the nest is hard to reach, a vacuum may be used to remove the bees without killing them.
6. Trap the Bees
If you do not want to hire an exterminator and can’t find a beekeeper to remove the nest, you can trap the bees without killing them.
The only drawback with this method is that the process is time-consuming. If you need to get rid of the bees in a hurry, this may not be the right approach for you.
- Use screen wire to create an exit cone with an exit hole about 3/8.”
- Place the wide end of the cone over the hive entrance.
- Place a small replacement hive near the exit cone to ensure that the bees survive.
The small hole at the end of the cone allows bees to exit, but not reenter the hive.
All other potential entry holes must be sealed up before you attempt to trap the hive. Look for cracks and holes that may allow the bees to reenter the home, and seal them with caulk or another appropriate material.
Depending on the hive’s size, this method may take several weeks or months to completely remove all bees from the hive.
Unfortunately, the queen will not abandon the nest, so you will need to inject pesticide into the nest to kill her and any other bees left behind.
Get Rid of Bees Outside
If you’re dealing with a bee infestation, there’s a good chance the problem is outside. How do you remove an outdoor nest, and should you?
7. Use a Vinegar Spray
If you want a natural way to remove the bees in your yard, a vinegar spray is a great option. Again, you want to exercise caution with this and wear protective clothing, as the bees will become agitated.
- Mix equal parts vinegar and water.
- Place the mixture in a spray bottle.
Spray the mixture on the nest at night when the bees are dormant.
Make sure to wear pants, gloves, a long-sleeve shirt and netting over your face and neck to protect yourself from stings.
You may also want to spray the mixture on plants, flowers, and bushes where bees are most active.
Reapply the mixture as needed, and remove all dead bees.
8. Make a Soda Bottle Trap
This trap will attract the bees, and they will drown in the solution.
- Cut a soda bottle in half.
- Fill the bottom half of the bottle with a sweet soda.
- Place the trap near areas where bees are most active.
The sweet smell of the liquid will attract the bees. Once they dive into the trap, they will drown in the liquid.
9. Hang Zappers
Many homeowners have successfully removed bees by hanging bug zappers around their yards, especially ones that use lures (sweet scents).
The bees will be attracted to the zapper, and get electrocuted after coming into contact with the grid.
Get Rid of Bees Around the Pool
If you have a bee’s nest near the pool or underneath your pool’s deck, it can pose a serious risk in the summer.
A few splashes of water at the nest or the bees buzzing around the pool can lead to a few – or many – painful stings.
10. Call in the Professionals
This is one case where we advocate calling in a professional to remove the nest. If the nest is in a tricky spot, you may not have all the right gear and tools to remove the nest safely. You also don’t want to spray pesticides near your pool.
A professional beekeeper or exterminator can come in and remove the nest (and bees) for you.
Saltwater pools are notorious for attracting honey bees, and that’s because they need salt to cure honey. These bees can taste with their feet, so it’s no surprise that they are attracted to saltwater pools. We’ll discuss ways to deter bees from invading your pool in the next section.
Get Rid of Bees In Siding
If bees have decided to build a nest in your home’s siding, you have a few options.
The cone trap method we talked about earlier may work, or you may use the vinegar water spray trick (don’t forget to wear protective clothing).
But your best bet is to use an insecticide if you aren’t interested in preserving the hive.
You can find insecticides at your local home improvement store. Look for products labeled for use with bees.
Again, you’ll want to wear protective clothing from head to toe when applying the insecticide. You’ll want to apply the solution after dark when bees are dormant.
It will take about a week for the solution to kill all of the bees in the nest.
Exercise caution when using insecticides, as they are toxic to pets, other wildlife and humans.
How to Keep Bees Away
What if you just want the bees to relocate? There are many home remedies that will drive out bees without actually killing them.
11. Water Your Lawn Frequently
If you have ground bees, this method can help drive out bees and keep them from coming back in the future.
- Water your lawn frequently
Ground bees prefer to build their nests in dry, sandy soil. Dry soil attracts nesting females. Watering your lawn frequently will keep the soil moist, and deter bees.
And as a nice bonus, you’ll have a beautiful-looking lawn all season long.
12. DIY Bee Spray
For a natural way to deter bees, consider making your own bee spray.
Bees are naturally attracted to sweet smells, like fruit, honey and floral perfumes. They’re also deterred by certain smells, mainly peppermint and cinnamon.
To make a repellent spray:
- Mix 1 drop peppermint oil, tea tree oil, or cinnamon oil (or all three) with 1 cup unscented baby shampoo.
- Pour the mixture into an empty spray bottle.
- Spray all areas you want to keep bees away from.
13. Plant Repelling Plants
Another great way to keep bees away is to simply plant bee-repelling plants in your garden or in containers near your home.
Mint will keep the bees away.
14. Place Cinnamon Outdoors
Another alternative bee repelling method is to sprinkle ground cinnamon around the hive for at least a week. The smell will deter the bees, and may cause them to relocate their hive.
15. Hang or Place Mothballs
Like many other insects, the scent of mothballs deters bees. Hanging them around the yard or placing them in strategic locations around the house can prevent bees from building nests – or just keep your yard bee-free all summer long.
Professional Bee Extermination
What if all of the natural and DIY extermination methods don’t work? It may be time to call in the professionals.
Professional bee extermination can be costly, depending on the location and size of the nest. But a bee exterminator will have all the right tools and knowledge to help you get rid of the infestation once and for all.
How much does bee removal cost on average?
Some beekeepers and exterminators will capture and relocate the hive for $75-$200.
If you have a bee infestation in your home, the cost of removal can be as high as $700 or more. In cases where the hive is impossible to remove, exterminators can kill the colony for $100-$300, depending on the location and size of the nest.
Extermination should be considered as a last resort, especially if you have a honey bee infestation. Honey bees are critical to the environment and crop pollination, and their populations are already dwindling.
Whenever possible, opt for removal of the hive rather than extermination of the hive.