Honey Bees

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Information courtesy of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.  To view the full Texas A&M AgriLife publication on Honey Bees, please click HERE.

For information on Africanized Honey Bees, please click HERE.

 

A honey bee (left) is distinguished from a yellowjacket wasp by its hairy body and wide rear legs designed for carrying pollen. Photo courtesy Michael Merchant

A honey bee (left) is distinguished from a yellowjacket wasp by it's hairy body and wider rear legs designed for carrying pollen.  (Photo courtesy of Michael Merchant)

Foraging bees...

It is common to see honey bees foraging for food and water around homes and other structures. Foraging bees are away from the colony and are not likely to sting because they have nothing to defend. Bees visiting flowers and other food sources should be left undisturbed.

To discourage foraging bees from gathering around a home or business, remove or prevent access to attractants such as ripening fruit, opened soda cans and pet water dishes. Make sure outdoor garbage receptacles are covered and well-sealed. Some flowers, trees and shrubs attract bees when in bloom. It is impractical to try to remove all the plants that might attract bees, so people with a fear of bees or allergies to bee venom should simply avoid those areas.

Swarming bees...

Many people have never encountered bee swarms even though they occur every year. With literally thousands of bees in the air, swarms may appear dangerous.

In fact, they pose little threat. Eventually the swarm will land and remain clustered in one place for a few hours or several days. During that time scout bees are looking for a suitable nesting site. Once the scouts find a new nest site and communicate its location to the swarm, the bees will move on to their new home. If a swarm lands in a remote site, it should be left alone. The swarm does not contain stored food or immature bees so the bees have nothing to defend and are unlikely to sting.

Swarms that land near buildings or high traffic areas should be managed. Bees may try to nest in wall voids or floors of buildings if they can gain entry. Professional and hobby beekeepers are often unwilling to collect swarms because of the possibility of introducing diseases, mites or Africanized bees into their own colonies. If no one can be found to remove a swarm near a building or in a high traffic area, the swarm may need to be destroyed.

 A honey bee swarm. Photo courtesy of B. Pierson

Bee Careful - and remember...

  • If bees are in a building, don't block the entry points.  Bees trapped in a wall will search for or create an alternate exit and may emerge inside the building.
  • Don't assume that spraying a liquid insecticide or dust into the bee entry point will solve the problem.  A nest may be several yards from the entrance, and insecticides applied at the entrance often fail to kill the colony.  In addition, killing the bees may make it difficult for a professional to locate the nest for removal.  It is best to leave it to the experts.
  • Never use fumigants or any flammable compounds in structures.  These seldom work well against protected bee nests and can pose a fire or explosion hazard.
  • Don't try to use honey or wax removed from a treated nest because they are often contaminated with dust, insulation or insecticides and are unsuitable for human use.