Bees & Wasps — Nests in Undesirable Places

You may come across a bee or wasp nest in a building or on the ground. Paper wasps usually build their nests high enough on buildings that they’re not problematic; yellow jackets, on the other hand, may enter buildings through openings under shingles or siding to construct their nest in the wall cavity. These nests will be gone by winter. With most species (though not honeybees), only the queen lives through the winter, and she leaves the nest to wait out the cold in a sheltered place.

If you find a ground nest that might pose a threat, the first step is to observe it. Solitary species may be seen excavating tunnels in the ground for several days, but then usually leave the area. Though they can sting, they are usually non-aggressive. On the other hand, social species—especially yellow jackets—will aggressively defend their nest.

If a nest absolutely must be removed, you should not try to do it yourself. You may be attacked by the colony’s guard bees, you may discover that you have an allergy, or you may find that your store-bought spray can’t reach inside the nest. Contact a professional pest-control company. Be sure to ask:

  • Does the company offer a successful non- or less-toxic method for controlling bees or wasps?
  • If an insecticide is used, what will it be and how is it applied?
  • What measures will be taken to ensure that the insecticide does not enter the living space?
  • What does the warning label say about the toxicity of the product and its effect on humans, animals, and the environment? How long will the substance remain toxic?

By: Mass Audubon

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