Bees and wasps serve an important role in spreading pollen, collecting honey and playing their part in the insect "food chain," but when it comes to co-habitation with humans, bees and wasps can be a problem. To compound the issue, not everyone can afford a professional, and home remedies can be dangerous. That's why it's important to know what you're doing if you decide to tackle a bee or wasp problem yourself.
Bees and wasps are both dangerous, and their stings can be fatal if anaphylactic allergies exist. Consult with a medical professional to determine whether you are allergic to bees and wasps. Though removal methods for nests are discussed here, it is not recommended that you try any of them. Consult a professional before attempting to perform any of the methods in this article.
With bees and wasps, it is best to eliminate or avoid areas prone to them. Keep in mind that bees are attracted to flowering plants for the pollen, and many wasps are attracted to darker, enclosed areas near the ground (under stairs or inside fallen logs). According to entomologist Ursula Dole, wearing light clothing may also help prevent attraction.
Bees have a generally noticeable appearance, with alternating yellow and dark stripes (either black or brownish). Not all bees are hostile or defensive, except when agitated by swatting or persistent proximity to a perceived threat. According to Pima Community College, honey bees will only sting once, because the stinger will be separated from the honey bee, which will kill it. Other bees may sting repeatedly, especially the infamous "Africanized" or "killer" bees. Such bees are not more venomous, but are more aggressive.
Wasps are distinctively different from bees, with more slender and elongated bodies. Ranging in colors from black to red, wasps are generally considered to be more dangerous than bees due to the fact that wasp venom contains histamine, which dissolves red blood cells. Also, wasps are capable of several stings, and some nests--when agitated--will send out more than one hundred "defenders."
Entomologist Ursula Dole says that a nest may be sprayed with "diatomaceous earth," a nontoxic dust that dries the bees or wasps out, effectively making them immobile and resulting in their death through dehydration and/or laceration. The dust can be applied with a leaf blower; a barrier (such as a cut trashbag) should be taped to form an airtight seal between the nest and the blower, with the dust inside the bag. Bees are less active early in the morning, and wasps are less active at night.
Dusting is not recommended by some professionals, but is generally safer than "smoking the nest" without a professional smoker. Smoking a nest will make the inhabitants docile after a time, but unless all oxygen is cut off from the insects, it will not effectively kill all of them. It is not recommended, even with a bee suit, that a nest be removed while the inhabitants are still alive. Crushing a nest will only agitate the insects, and lighting the nest on fire or pouring any sort of liquid on it will not be effective and may prove dangerous.
Aside from prevention for the allergies mentioned earlier, it is important to provide some sort of equipment for safety, regardless of the method used. A smoker can be used to make the insects docile, a bee suit (with hood and veil) keeps bees from crawling up your sleeves or stinging your skin, gloves, and straps for ankles and wrists are all recommended parts of beekeeper equipment that can be used to prevent the feared stings of both bees and wasps. BeeCare (beecare.com) recommends all of these tools be used for handling stinging insects.