How can I tell if those are honey bees or yellow jackets?
Honey bees will be going in and out every second of their entrance to your structure. Yellow jackets usually take months before they can reach the size of nest to have many going in and out of the structure. Yellow jackets are also smaller, faster, and fly in angles. Honey Bees will kind of lob into the hive quickly but not in a jerky fashion. Honey bees are not as aggressive either. If you are seeing it during March through July, then it is probably honey bees. If it is later and you did not notice them before, it is likely yellow jackets.
How long does it take to build wax in my wall or structure?
It only takes about 3 days depending on the size of the swarm. I have seen literally in one week, a full blown hive that was about 50-75 lbs in weight. Usually though it is about 15 lbs by the end of the week. The more bees, the quicker they build.
I only see a few bees going in and out. Is it a small hive?
Not likely. Typical swarms show up with about 5,000-10,000 workers. They only take about 15 minutes to enter if they want. Many times I see them for a couple of hours before they actually enter the structure. However, if the queen enters first, there is almost no way to get her to come back out. Most of the bees will stay inside and only a few will exit and enter. So, a full blown hive will only show a few entering and exiting with most of the worker bees on the hive within the structure. A full blown hive can range within a wall from 30,000 to 60,000 bees.
Can I just plug it up and cause them to die?
No. Plugging up an entrance to their hive will just get them mad. When you have about 5,000+ bees lacking oxygen, stuck inside of their hive, it highly irritates them. There is nothing worse than being around oxygen deficient bees. Bees can eat their way through almost anything, and if there is any open areas like light sockets, can lights, plugs, etc, then they will be in the house. This can be a very disastrous situation.
Can I exterminate the hive?
I definitely do not recommend exterminating the hive. If the bees have been there longer than 3 days, then you will have wax and honey in the wall. There are many reasons why this would not be beneficial for the homeowner: a) You would have huge amount of insects dead in your wall and it will most likely stink up the room behind the wall or ceiling. b) the wax and pollen in the wall void will be an attractant to ALL bee swarms passing by each spring. Most likely new bees will re-enter the home in the exact same spot since they can smell the odor. c) The bees have a natural cooling system (their wings flapping) and that keeps the wax from melting. If the bees are killed, then there will be nothing to cool the hive. That will cause the wax to melt during hot temperatures and the honey will come down the wall or ceiling and exit the baseboard. The minimum amount after a week would be 5 lbs of honey. A normal size hive that is 3 months or more can easily have 50- 100 lbs of honey. d) Most likely with the hive and dead bees in the wall, there will be dry rot and mold. e) Last of all, bees after one week will eat the moisture barrier of stucco or siding. This leaves nothing protecting the wood when it rains or when it is cold. That needs to be repaired so that further damage does not happen.
What is the proper way to remove the bees?
The ideal way to fix the situation is to remove them by opening up the wall. We have been doing this for over 14 years and specialize in removing them without harming them and others. We remove the wax, honey, pollen, brood, and bees in a safe and humane way. Most of the time the customer wants their honey and we give it to them. This can vary from 5 lbs to 150 lbs depending on how long the bees have been there. In the fall, usually our hives that we pull out are about 50+ lbs of honey.
Can I smoke the bees out?
Smoke is a repellent. It causes the bees to retreat from the smoke which in most cases would push the bees further into the wall. This is what you do not want happening. We use smoke for calming the bees when extracting them out of the wall. In almost all cases the structure has to be opened to remove the wax, honey, pollen, and bees.
I have bees in my family room and they are mostly at the window. How did they get in my house?
Most of the time when bees get in a room where there is a fireplace, the bees are coming in from the chimney. They will fly to the nearest window and stay there. They are usually scouts that are inspecting a likely new home for themselves. They cannot survive in the home by the window, so you will see them dying there within 30 minutes. Oftentimes you will see a 100-300 bees dead by the window. The ones that are there will not be aggressive at all. Usually the only way you can get stung at this point is if you step on them barefooted. To find out where they are entering the home, go outside and look at the chimney above and see if you see anything flying around at the top. Also, inspect areas such as lower part of chimney, the windows, eaves, and siding. It should be obvious if there is a bee swarm on your home or if they are already moved in to your home.