honey bees

Asked August 13, 2013, 3:40 PM EDT

I believe I have a growing honey bee hive in my siding. They have been there for a few years, but were never bothersome until this year, and there are many, many more. I am single, my fiance is in Afghanistan, and my 17 year old son was swarmed and stung twice Sunday after mowing our lawn. I am allergic to bees of all kinds and I've heard nothing good about attempting to remove them. My mother and grandfather suggested getting in touch with someone from there about my problem. Can you help? I live in Indianola and have no flower beds in my yard. Thank you.

Warren County Iowa

1 Response


Thank you for your message and for contacting Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. I'm sorry to hear about the pest problem and being stung.

Honey bees occasionally nest in walls but not often. When they do, they may persist from year to year as you described. On the other hand, there is another insect that looks and acts like honey bees is the yellowjacket wasp. Yellowjackets build annual colonies and do NOT live in the same nest from one year to the next, though repeat colonies in the same area are possible. Here is a link to compare the two insects.


Honey bees are golden brown and very fuzzy; yellowjackets are bright yellow with black markings, nearly hairless and shiny. The difference is important to distinguish. If they are honey bees, there is honey stored inside the wall that should be removed. If they are yellowjackets there is a paper nest that does not have to be extracted from the wall void.

Finding a bee keeper to remove honey bees from a wall is difficult. It usually means some destruction to the wall (necessary to remove the honey anyway). You can check with the people listed on the Iowa Honey Producer website to see if they know anyone who will remove colonies in your area (and they will go through the same process of ascertaining that they are honey bees and not yellowjackets).


Both honey bees and yellowjackets can be controlled by inserting insecticide dust into the nest opening at night. Do not plug the entrance hole until all activity has ceased! See http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/info/insects/wasps/yellowjacket-wasp

It is my experience that some pest control companies will be willing help you by treating the nest and some won't. Some companies claim it is illegal for them to treat "bees." That's not true; it is used as an excuse to not have to treat stinging insects.

I've probably not answered all you wanted to know, so please respond to me directly with follow up questions. drlewis@iastate.edu


Donald Lewis