There are nearly 4,000 different types of bee species in North America. Fortunately, business owners and homeowners throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey are likely to come across only three of them: carpenter bees, honey bees, and the bumble bee. Bees play a valuable role in the ecosystem by producing beeswax and honey, as well as pollinating fruits, vegetables, and even some tree nuts like cashews and macadamias. It is estimated that 1/3 of all of the food consumed in the United States each year is produced by bees and the process of pollination.
Bees are close relatives to ants and wasps and resemble them in various ways.
• Honey bees range in color from amber to brown with alternating black stripes. Their coat is furry and adults are about a half an inch long.
• Bumblebees are yellow with black stripes and sometimes have a red “tail.” Their coat is furry and they grow to about an inch in length.
• Carpenter bees are often mistaken for bumblebees because they also have black and yellow patterns. However, their body is less furry and they reflect colors such as purple, green, yellow, and dark blue as a metallic sheen. They grow to be about an inch long.
Bees eat pollen (the powdery substance) and nectar (the liquid inside) from flowers. Each has its own role; pollen is fed to bees in the larvae stage, while nectar is used to give bees energy. Queen larvae are fed Royal Jelly. This royal jelly is a combination of high-carbohydrate honey, high-protein pollen, and enzymes that are produced by nurse bees.
Anywhere there are flowering plants that insects pollinate, there are bees. Bees prefer solitude to carry out their work, and are found in hives and colonies where there is little disruption. There are some bees indigenous to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, like the yellow jackets that live in holes in the ground. Bees are most often found in meadows, gardens, orchards, and woodlands, but can also build hives inside human-made structures.
PROBLEMS WITH BEES
When bees build their hives inside the walls of an office building or home, it can create anxiety for the individuals working and living in that location, especially if people are getting stung. Carpenter bees can damage wood. If not detected in time, such damage can prove to be both costly and unsafe
Bees are not generally aggressive, but if they feel threatened, they will sting people near their hive. Bees discharge venom, which can cause pain and at the very least discomfort. Some people are allergic to bee stings which may require a trip to the emergency room.
Although they are tiny, bees can carry a multitude of different diseases, pests, and parasites. The most significant disease is American Foulbrood, which are bacterial spores that contaminate the hive and the honey. This bacterium is so persistent that hives are usually burned to eradicate it because the spores can stay viable for 40 years or more.
SIGNS OF AN INFESTATION
Recognizing a bee infestation begins by observing the bees found in a particular area. If they are swarming around the eaves of the building, this may indicate a potential problem. Bees sometimes make their way under shingles, or inside the broken molding of a window. Untreated wood can also be a beacon to carpenter bees. There are many locations bees build hives including in trees, between walls, in sheds, garages, attics, etc. Degrading honeycombs create an unpleasant odor that will be noticeable Additionally, left over honey will create dark spots on the walls and ceiling due to seepage.
Preventing bees from building a hive on the property may ultimately be impossible, but there are some ways to deter this including keeping rotting fruit off of the ground (under fruit trees), sealing any untreated outside wood, and closing gaps in windows and walls.
If a bee colony is already present, eradication can be complex. First, the species of the bee should be identified to determine the best method of extermination. Secondly, where the colony is located also determines how it will be removed. There are several methods that a licensed pest control company will use to successfully eradicate the bee hive, depending upon type, size, and location. It is important to note that spraying the bees with an over-the-counter product may not only prove ineffective, it can also be highly dangerous. For proper bee infestation prevention and removal, an experienced pest control provider should be contacted. A certified technician can treat and remove existing bee colonies.
While carpenter bees are helpful pollinators that are welcome in flower gardens, orchards and farm fields, they should not be allowed to build nests in manmade structures. Once these holes appear, the structure becomes vulnerable to successive generations of carpenter bees in addition to other far more destructive pests.
Treating for carpenter bees requires particular knowledge and experience. Treatments involve locating and dealing off tunnel holes, followed with the use of specialized dusts and insecticides designed for easy transmittal throughout the colony.
Eradication of a carpenter bee infestation in or around any Yardley home or office should be left to a licensed pest control professional.