Chances are you’ve encountered a bumble bee at some point in your life. Because the very sight of them – combined with the potential of their sting – is enough to make most of us seek shelter, it’s easy to forget that they’re considered beneficial insects because they pollinate crops and plants.
Nonetheless, if bumble bees nest close to an enclosed structure, such as a house or recreational area, then it’s a good idea to get rid of them.
What Is A Bumble Bee?
Perhaps best described as big, hairy, black and yellow, bumble bees can range in size from 3/4 inch to 1 1/2 inch. There are around 50 different species of bumble bees in North America. Again, they’re beneficial insects because they pollinate plants and flowers as they forage for food.
One thing to keep in mind about bumble bees is that they’re often mistaken for carpenter bees.
What’s The Difference Between A Bumble Bee And Carpenter Bee?
The best ways to tell the difference between a bumble bee and a carpenter bee is by appearance, location, and activity.
Appearance – Bumble bees have a fuzzy abdomen while the abdomen of a carpenter bee is smooth and shiny.
Location – Carpenter bees build their nests in wood structures. You’ll know it’s a carpenter bee nest by the perfectly round hole they bore into wood.
Activity – Carpenter bees are typically noticed when they are building their nests in wood. Bumble bees do not nest in wood, but instead nest under piles of grass clippings, in abandoned rodent burrows, or under leaves, stones, logs, etc.
Why Do Bumble Bees Sting?
Bumble bees rarely pose a threat to humans when they’re busy searching for food; in fact, they will go out of their way to avoid contact with humans in most cases. But if they’re cornered and sense that they cannot escape, or are defending their nest, they will bite.
Are Bumble Bee Stings Harmful?
Bumble bees stings can produce a variety of reactions, from temporary pain and discomfort to a potentially dangerous allergic reaction. In most people, the swelling and pain go away in a matter of hours. Some people will have a more extensive reaction in which swelling and redness may last for days.
A severe allergic reaction to a bee sting is potentially life-threatening and emergency medical treatment is required. This reaction happens to a small percentage of people. Symptoms include:
- Skin reactions such as hives and itching.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Swelling of the throat and tongue.
- Vomiting or diarrhea.
- Dizziness or fainting.
- A weak or rapid pulse.
How Do I Get Rid Of Bumble Bees?
Allowing bumble bees to nest in areas where children and pets frequent is not desirable. Moreover, bees have few natural predators (skunks are an exception) and most other animals cannot tolerate bee stings. But there are a variety of methods that can be used to avoid a bumble bee problem:
- Clean up your yard of any mulch or organic debris that isn’t being used for anything.
- Remove flat stones, bricks or rocks unless they are being used for decorative purposes. When these objects are removed, check the ground to make sure any holes are filled in. If you are using these items for decoration, make sure they are packed down and have good contact with the ground.
- Seal all holes in your house or building’s exterior and place tight-fitting screens around all vents.
- Identify the location of a bee’s nest during the day but only apply pesticides at night when bees are less active. Make sure to wear appropriate protective gear, including a bee veil.
- Insecticide dust is effective when applied around and into the nest area. These dusts can kill quickly and are often effective for up to six months.
- Removing a hive will not automatically eliminate your bee problem, because bumble bees leave behind a very strong scent that will attract other bees. Clean the nesting area with strong disinfectants while sealing all openings near it with caulk. A rule of thumb says that if you can slip a piece of paper in a crack or hole, then you need to caulk it.
- Certain trees and shrubs that attract bumble bees because of their sweet nectar can be removed or treated with insecticides that will repel bees (and don’t harm the plant).