Issue: May 28, 2005

Bee hive in a house

Question:

I think I have a bee hive between the walls of my house. Is there any danger? I don't want to be stung. What can I do?

Answer:

According to Dr. Carol Sutherland, NMSU Extension Entomologist, there are no pheromones that will attract and trap bees. Pheromones are chemical attractants used to trap certain insects to determine whether or not they are present. She suggests that you try to locate where the bees are entering your home. Observe the areas around vents, vegas, canales, and around windows where caulking may have fallen out. If that doesn’t work, inspect inside the house and look for wet spots in walls, closets, ceilings, etc. Smell any wet spots and see if they smell like honey. The presence of bees inside the house, even dead bees, may indicate problems.

Two-story homes may have colonies in the trusses between floors. When vacuuming, turn off the vacuum cleaner and listen for bee noises between the walls or in ceiling. The vibrations from the vacuum cleaner may excite the bees. Check with your lawn maintenance people and ask if they have seen bees entering or exiting the outside walls vents etc. If bees are present, there is definitely a possibility of you or your family receiving bee stings.

If you find the area where the bees are located, it would be wise to contact an exterminator to apply insecticide to kill the bees. It may take multiple applications to kill them. Be sure they use a product that is safe for indoor use.

Once the bees are dead, the honey will begin to decay (as well as the bees) and smell like road kill. A home renovation specialist should be consulted to remove that portion of the wall or ceiling and remove the decaying bees. Otherwise a strong odor will be present, and other insects will be drawn the area to feed off the remains left behind.

All of this is an involved process, and may take a lot of “detective” work to find the bees, but the results will make your house inhabitable again.

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Send your gardening questions to:
Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith
NMSU Cooperative Extension Service
9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112
Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.