Most people that see or hear bees in their wall cavity have no idea how to get rid of the bees in their wall. It’s not exactly a situation most people encounter. But, it happens more often than you’d think.
We’ll show you why bees are sometimes attracted to your walls, how they get in, the types of bees that’ll inhabit wall cavities, how to remove wall bees, and how to prevent them from returning. If you need to skip to a section, use the table of content below, and if you have additional questions, contact me here or in the comments below this article.
We have a more general article that covers many aspects of bee removal here, so if you have more bee questions check it out. This article focuses exclusively on removing and relocating colonies of bees in wall cavities.
Signs of bees in your wall
There are pieces of evidence that indicate bees built a hive in your wall. If you notice the following signs or sounds, it’s worth having a bee expert come take a look.
- Buzzing or vibrating sounds: This might seem obvious, but some people might not recognize that buzzing sounds can indicate bees are living in your wall cavity. You might also hear vibrating sounds from carpenter bees chewing through wood.
- Dark patches on your wall: Honey bees will produce honeycomb (and honey) inside your wall cavity. The honey can stain your wall and ceiling.
If you notice any of these signs of bees on your wall and you notice more bees than normal around your yard, you probably have bees in your wall so contact a bee expert.
Types of bees that get into your walls
There are several types of bees that can get into your walls but don’t need to worry about all types of such bees because only some will build nests in your wall cavity. For example, masonry bees are one such solitary bee that can get into your wall but won’t colonize it.
Here’s a list of the types of bees you might commonly find on your walls and a bit about each type:
Honey bees often get into wall cavities of homes with unsealed cracks or crevices.
Mason bees (also called Mortar bees)
Mason bees are also called mortar bees because they often burrow into masonry. They can work their way through stone or rock house masonry into your wall cavities. They don’t live in colonies though. They live solitary lives so you don’t need to worry about mortar bees nesting in your home.
Carpenter bees will actually gnaw their way into wood. They can sometimes burrow into the wood siding or all the way through into a wall cavity. Normally carpenter bees leave behind piles of frass or sawdust, which will help you know you’re dealing with carpenter bees.
Preventing bees from entering your wall cavity
Bees can enter tiny crevices. Sealing up any crevices or cracks that lead into your wall with silicone caulk removes most potential bee entry points (and helps keep other wall pests like mice or bats out). Larger openings might require some kind of metal flashing or a similar barrier. In the video below, you can see some relatively small openings between a house’s upper wall and a roof that honey bees were entering and exiting.
How long can bees live trapped in your wall?
Bee colonies can go on living in your wall for a long time (assuming it’s not completely sealed off). If you cut off their access to the outside world by sealing their entry/exit points before you remove their hive, they’ll die from starvation. Given how important bees are for pollinating our plants, please don’t do this. Also, bee colonies inside walls can be huge (around 30,000 to 100,000 bees). If you seal off bees in your wall and they all starve to death inside your wall cavity, it will smell awful.
Getting rid of wall bees
You should call professional pest control or a beekeeper to remove bee hives from your walls. Unless you know how to work with bees, you’d have a tough time doing it yourself. Beekeepers will often remove and relocate bees for free. Many beekeepers in the U.S. are having problems keeping their managed bee populations healthy so they love finding new bees to take care of. Because of this, they’ll often remove bees from your wall for no labor costs.
However, removing bees from walls usually requires some demolition. Whoever is doing the job will often need to cut and remove a portion of your wall. If a beekeeper offers you free bee removal, just understand that it won’t usually include repairing your wall.
You can usually find someone in your state who is willing to help in the American Bee Keeping Federations’ directory of beekeepers willing to help relocate unwanted bees.
Vacating the home
The first step is normally vacating your home. Some bees can get agitated during the removal process, even if the bee removal expert smokes them frequently. It’s usually best to leave your home while bee removal personnel work on getting the bees out of your wall, but some beekeepers will offer you an extra bee suite to wear if you want to watch the process.
Seal entry points
Next, beekeepers will identify and seal the bees’ entry and exit points. They might just use a temporary seal like a rag or duct tape but after the bee experts (or you) remove and relocate the bees in your wall cavity, you should permanently seal the opening with caulk or flashing to deter a repeat wall infestation.
Calm the bees
After sealing the bees or just before, beekeepers or pest control experts will usually smoke the bee colony in your wall to calm them down.
Cut the wall open
Once the bees are sealed in and calmed via smoke, bee removal experts will start cutting into the wall. This is normally done from the inside because it’s easier and more economical to cut through sheetrock than it is to cut into an external wall.
Vacuum the bees and slice out the honeycomb
Finally, bee experts will begin vacuuming worker bees from the honeycomb (and the air, wall, and surrounding areas) into a bee box. While vacuuming, they’ll also slice portions of the honeycomb from the wall cavity and place them into bee boxes such that the bee colony can be transported to a different location and resume its work.
Find the queen
Throughout the wall bee removal process, bee experts keep an eye out for the queen. She is significantly longer than drone bees and well-protected. It is important for the bee expert to capture her safely because the rest of the bees in the hive will follow her to the new location.
How to keep bees from returning to your walls
- Seal openings, cracks, or crevices leading from outside into your wall
- Remove honeycomb remnants from the removed bee hive
To keep bees from returning to your walls, you’ll mostly follow the wall bee prevention tips above. Namely, seal any opening from outside your home into your walls. These are often found where your roof meets your wall but could be anywhere.
Additionally, the scent of a former bee hive in your wall cavity can attract bees later on. So, before you repair the part of your wall you cut out, make sure you clean off a honeycomb that is sticking to your walls.
Supposedly, bees don’t enjoy the following scents, so you might also try spraying the inside of your wall cavity with one of the following essential oils mixed with some water: