how to

How to kill bees with soapy water: non-toxic but risky

The waxy surface layer of leaves is similar to the protective surface layer of insects. Soap can break down these layers and make them permeable to water. Flickr photo by Brett Jordan.

The waxy surface layer of leaves is similar to the protective surface layer of insects. Soap can break down these layers and make them permeable to water. To kill bees, each one must be entirely covered with soapy water.

I discuss this alternative because many non-beekeepers visit this site looking for ways to kill bees without using pesticides. This is good news and bad.

It’s good news because it shows people are increasingly aware of pesticide poisoning and the damage it can inflict on our environment, children, and pets. It’s bad news because it shows that many people still don’t recognize the importance of pollinators. Killing bugs is often a knee-jerk reaction. Why? Because many of us believe the only good bug is a dead bug.

Before you kill bees

Often, the “bees” people report are actually wasps because most people can’t tell the difference. But no matter the species, killing a nest of stinging insects with soapy water is not a walk in the park.

If you have stinging insects you must remove, I strongly recommend calling a local beekeeper or a company that gathers wasps for medical purposes. A beekeeper can try to save honey bees by moving the colony to another location. Or, if you have wasps, a specialist may harvest them for their venom. Most often, these people will come to your home for free if they can keep the bees or wasps they remove.

Once at the site, they can identify the type of insects you have and either collect them or suggest alternatives for getting rid of them. However, removing a nest that is firmly established in a building is tough. Extraction may require expensive and time-consuming methods that require more carpentry than beekeeping. Still, a good specialist can estimate the scope of work, and you will know a lot more than you did before.

The do-it-yourself method

If the insect nest is small and outside your home, you can try to destroy it using a solution of soapy water (one part liquid dish soap to four parts water) in a plastic spray bottle or garden sprayer. For best results, choose a powerful sprayer that shoots a fine mist.

Before you begin, you need to sequester your family and pets in a safe place and cover yourself from head to toe with protective clothing. Also, be sure no neighbors or pedestrians are nearby.

Soap allows water to drown the insect

Soap can kill bees and other insects because it is a surfactant—a substance that essentially makes water wetter. If you take a leaf and spray it with plain water, the water forms little round droplets. If you spray the same leaf with soapy water, the water flattens out into a thin layer.

The wax of the leaf is a fatty substance, much like the waxy coating on the outside of an insect or the grease on your dishes. Normally, water cannot penetrate it. But add soap to the water and suddenly the water and the wax (or grease) form an attraction for each other.

In effect, molecules of water—aided by soap—surround the fatty molecules, making them “helpless.” At the kitchen sink, soapy water surrounds molecules of fat, releasing them from the dish. On a leaf or insect, the soapy water surrounds the molecules of waxy coating. Now, instead of repelling water, the coating allows water to freely enter the insect’s body. Essentially, the insect drowns.

Before you kill bees, protect yourself

The homeowner who tries this method must consider several things:

  • Death to the insect is not instant. It is going to get mad before it gets dead—so staying covered and keeping family members away is important.

  • If you are spraying a cluster of insects, only the outer layer will be hit by the spray. The inner layers of bees are going to become agitated, and they are likely to sting. With protective clothing, you can keep spraying as the cluster breaks apart. Just remember that you won’t get them all the first time.

  • Soaps are different and sprayers are different. You may have trouble if the solution isn’t soapy enough or if the drops are too big or poorly aimed.

Remember that pollinators of many types are endangered, so it’s best to have someone look at a nest before you destroy it. If you know nothing of bees and wasps, stay clear of them until someone can identify them. If you live in areas with Africanized honey bees, you don’t want to go near a swarm—even to kill it—until someone in the know has assessed the danger.

Sackloads of hate mail

Of all the posts I’ve written, this one receives the most “hate mail.” The people who write are angry that I would even consider killing a pollinator, no matter where it is or what it’s doing.

But that is unrealistic. Sometimes a colony of bees or wasps can be unduly aggressive. Sometimes it is truly a hazard to humans and animals. Or sometimes, repeated attempts at relocation didn’t work. And destroying a diseased colony might even save other pollinators.

In those cases, I would rather see the insects killed without pesticides that might drift and destroy “innocent” insect bystanders. All I’m suggesting is an alternative.

Honey Bee Suite


  • This is not a “how to kill” comment, but rather a “how to gently repel” question. I’ve been wanting to ask it, but didn’t know where…

    Lucky me, a new beekeeper that has developed an allergy to honey bees. I’ve spent the winter doing venom shots, and am now up to the equivalent of 2-3 stings per shot with no reaction. This goes a long way to reassure me and my continuance of beekeeping. We have about 2 acres that are open, and when the bees are active, they visit every corner of my life (the garden, front porch, kitchen, swing set, lawn chairs, etc). This is great, and I love it, but I don’t love the way they dive-bomb my bright red hair and face when there’s little to eat out there (early spring, late summer, fall, etc). I was thinking about a natural repellent I could wear or put on my sun hat that might make them say, “gee, I’d rather fly over there.” Something I also could dab on my nearly-3 year old daughter, who is a bit of a bee-whisperer herself.

    Any suggestions?

    • So, Gretchen, when you say you developed an allergy, do you mean you didn’t have one previously? I always wondered about that because I hear people say “developed” but I always believed you were allergic or not. But I worry about my husband who is allergic to lots of things, has had anaphylactic shock, but weathers honey bee stings just fine, at least so far. But one year I dropped a super and got 23 stings on my ankle. If that happened to him I’d be pretty worried.

      As to your question — they say meat repels honey bees, but if you hung a piece of roast beef around your neck, the wasps and hornets would be after you instead. It seems to me that I read about a bee repellant, but I just can’t recall where or what. It’s such a good idea. Most things that repel them, like butyric acid, you wouldn’t want to be around. There are a bunch of so-called insect repellants available, but most contain lemongrass which apparently repels lots of six-legged creatures but attracts honey bees. Find the answer and you will probably make your millions.

      I don’t think they are attracted to your red hair because they can’t see red, but perhaps it is a shampoo or soap you are using. I’ll keep alert for an answer, but I just don’t have one at the moment. Sorry.

      • Allergies do actually develop. You have to have an initial exposure to something before you develop an allergy to it. Upon first exposure your body releases antibodies to the substance which then attach to your mast cells. In subsequent exposure, your mast cells recognize this and produce histamines, and a bunch of other stuff which causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction. So technically, you can only have a reaction to something you’ve been previously exposed to, though my guess is that if a substance stays in your system for a bit it may be able to trigger a reaction on your first exposure. I think some people are more prone to allergic reactions than others, but it is not terribly uncommon to suddenly have an allergic reaction to something that you have been exposed to many times before with no issue.

    • Well, my neighbor has 6 hives in the woods behind our neighborhood now in the last few years. In the city limits! I have lived here for 40 years with an in-ground large pool for 22 years! And now our safe haven of family enjoyment has been ruined because they are swarming all the darn time. Pets, children, and everyone in danger of being stung. I addressed it with her and she told me to “live with it,” and put some water outside my fence. We need the bees! Well yes but not here! I am allergic to bees. If I could I would kill every one of them! Hate bees and inconsiderate neighbors! Oh, and the clucking chickens. Don’t get me started. The neighbors fuss at me like I can do anything about what goes on next door. She is sweet but not considerate of her neighbors.

        • Hi Bil,

          I’ve tried the sprinkler method. It didn’t work for me. Have you heard of any other ideas?

          Three months ago a bee farmer dropped 24 hives 100 ft from our property. When I asked if he could move them to another field he said no. Added more hives and turned them into super hives. I now have 32 hives, 800,000 bees in each hive. Total 18 million bees in my pool!
          I’ve tried sweet tubs at the property line, sprinklers, hi velocity waves, lemon, lime, garlic, vinegar…

          Nothing stops the bees.
          I’ve informed him that I’m scoping 2000 to 5000 dead bees a day out of my pool.

          The smell of their rotting corpses is disgusting! The dead bees are damaging my pool liner. We can’t use the pool. I’ve also gone through a dozen filters, $1500 in cleaning supplies and chlorine.

          He doesn’t care. The queens can lay 1000 eggs a day. He has bees to spare. Even the neighbour has phoned him. Told him of the issues. His answer “Not my problem!”

          There’s only a month or so left of summer and I’m very irritated by the farmers self centered attitude. The entitlement is disgusting.

          I told him one of the other neighbors will be spraying for grasshoppers soon. (Not me) His answer, “Well YOU make sure they only spray at night! Or I’ll hold YOU responsible if anything happens!” Told him I’m only passing on a message and I’m not responsible for other farmers business’ nor can I tell them how to run THEIR farms!

          I don’t want to kill them so I can enjoy the pool. But what else can one try?

          • Lisa,

            There’s something wrong with your math here. You will never have 800,000 bees in one hive. More like 20,000 to 80,000.

  • Maybe they are just attracted to my sweet personality. Or maybe they hate my deodorant. At least I can stop blaming my hair…

    I say “developed” because I have been stung off and on throughout my life, including my first few months as a beekeeper, with no problem. Then I got stung on my face and neck (bees got stuck in my hair after I took off my gear — I now assess myself for hitchhikers with a mirror before taking anything off), and developed hives on my torso. Lab work revealed I was definitely in the range of honey bee allergy. Perhaps I was borderline before, and the facial sting sent me over (exact same thing happened to a friend whose wife is a beekeeper). I was later stung on the knee (kneeled on a poor gal), took antihistamine right away, and had a normal reaction.

    One repellant I read about is tea tree oil with benzaldehyde (which is in many cosmetics, but also carries an occupational hazard warning, so don’t know about that…). I will experiment with just tea tree oil to start. I also thought of the almondine scent of Fishers Bee Quick (they won’t reveal their ingredients). I will let you know if I seem to have success, and you tell me if you hear of anything. I think for someone like your husband, this type of gentle repellent would be ideal.

    • Gretchen,

      I frequently add tea tree oil to my sugar patties to attract the bees to it and they love it. It is one of the oils I read about several years ago and then did some experiments with.

  • I sometimes use drier sheets [ fabric softner ]. I place one in my hat and bees seem to avoid me.

  • When trying to split a hive of bees, how is the best way to collect them (NOT KILLING THEM)? I saw a show some time back where a guy was gathering wild bees to put in a hive (box). He sprayed them with soapy water so they could not fly away, but NOT to kill them. Any suggestions???

    David in SC

    • David,

      Soap is a surfactant that breaks down oils and fats into fine particles and reduces the surface tension of water (which is why it cleans grease off of dishes and dirt from your clothes). A thin layer of soap causes water to be absorbed through the bee’s exoskeleton and, essentially, it drowns. I’ve never heard of a soapy water spray that prevented them from flying but didn’t kill them. Perhaps it was just a really weak solution that almost killed them? I don’t know.

      But here’s the important point. Splitting a hive will not cause the bees to fly away. When you split a hive of bees, all the foragers will return to their original hive. All the nurse bees (the bees that have never been outside the hive) will remain with the brood they are caring for. When you are in the process of splitting the hive, it may look like pandemonium, but it will all sort itself out in a few hours and no bees will have flown away.

      If you are doing what you say–splitting a hive–you have no need to collect the bees; all the bees you see in the air will go back to the parent hive (assuming you haven’t moved the parent hive) and the brood and nurse bees you split from the parent hive will stay with the split.

  • Try a bottle of tree oil from Wal-greens. It is about 8 dollars. Most insects cannot stand tree oil, so take a cotton ball and dip it with the tree oil and wipe the cotton ball in the place you don’t want insects to be.

    • Hey,

      I have bees, had em for 2 years now but they are above my kitchen door, there are also a lot of dead ones over 100s from wintertime but now they back again. I was wondering how do I get rid of them as the next door are complaining. I tried the soap and water and malt vinegar and water, but they don’t seem to care. How long before the soap and water take effect on em?

      • Hamin,

        Soap and water should work almost immediately because it suffocates the bees. But you have to completely coat each one, which is the hard part.

  • gostaria de saber como e que eu faço para espantar umas abelhinhas que faz colmeia pequenas no meu muro do quintal.

    • If you think they are honey bees, call a local beekeeper and ask him to come to your place and take them away. If they are wasps, you can kill them with soapy water but be careful because it will make them mad. Can you send a photo? Maybe I can tell you what they are. Send to

        • Have you gotten rid of them yet if not tell me your location and I will come and get rid of them for you. Just text me back and I’ll answer you. Thank you very much.

  • I’ve just been driven into my house by guard bees from one of my hives. Sunny day, 60 degree weather, flowers blooming here in Eatonville, but these bees started stinging my gloves the instant I opened the hive after lightly smoking them. Each time I lifted a frame to check the brood pattern and look for swarm cells, about 10 bees would lift up and start buzzing my face mask.

    Eventually, I wound up surrounded by a cloud of bees and my dogs even ran for the house when the bees went after them. I have 5 hives, been doing this for 4 years, this is a surviving hive queened with Olympic apiary Russian hybrid last summer. I’m ready to get out the soap suds!! So far, I decided to break the hive down, 3 medium boxes to 1 box each, and go back another day to look for the queen, planning regicide. Any other suggestions?


    • Sheila,

      I think re-queening is your best bet. I find that bees are usually fairly docile this time of year, so a hot hive is probably an anomaly. Of course, it may already be queenless . . . maybe that is the problem.

  • Hi Rusty,
    I just stumbled across your blog/website. With all of the news about colony collapse and bees dying off or disappearing why would you suggest killing bees and not deterring them? The end of your article is the best part and would really help people understand the importance of pollinators and not killing them.


    • Jen,

      How to kill bees is the number one question directed to my website. Since pesticides cause far-reaching and long-lasting damage to the environment, to health, and to countless pollinators including bees, I’m elated to have people kill them with soap rather than pesticides. The people who are seeking this information are going to kill them anyway, so I’d rather they kill them without harming the rest of the environment in the process.

      My website is full of information on why bees should not be killed; if these people are interested they will read about it, otherwise I can’t force them to. In the end, soap is the best answer.

  • Why not just slow them down with sugar water? The last thing anyone needs to be doing is killing honeybees. Sugar water stops them; they have to lick themselves clean, like tiny cats. You can just brush them into a box, or better yet, go away and wait until they leave. I’m surprised it is even legal to kill bees for no reason…maybe by now (2014) it is not.

    • Chrystal,

      If someone is scared to death of bees, they don’t want them slowed down, they want them dead. We have to accept that not every one is a bee lover. The point of my post is I would rather have them killed with soap instead of pesticide, which will kill everything else and damage the environment as well.

      By the way, it is perfectly legal to kill honey bees. They are not protected by the endangered species act or similar legislation because they are an introduced species in the US, not native.

      • I’m allergic to bees, had a very bad allergic reaction to a bee sting and almost lost my life. This happened at school, luckily I wasn’t alone. I’m terrified of bees and don’t want them near me or my house. So yes, if this remedy can kill them without using harmful pesticides then I’d do it.

    • Agreed. I hope they are protected by now in 2022. We have lost so many. The world is suffering and humans are still oblivious to the effects their actions have on nature. Lord help us.

  • Seriously. Dawn dish detergent will kill bees? I just doused my shed with a spray bottle with Dawn dish detergent & then doused over the wetness with HI-Yield Livestock, Pet & Garden Dust – so tell me, did I end up killing all kinds of insects…………Sucks! I learned about Dawn dish detergent last year to get rid of the yellow jackets building their nests – but I really didn’t know it killed them. Wow. I have this website favorited……..I am interested in keeping bees – just so they have a home – nothing else.

    • Roberta,

      Well, I didn’t list any specific brands, but soap is soap and, yes, it will kill any insect.

  • I also found “scientificbeekeeping” website that I was directed by the Austin Area Beekeepers Association. Enjoy that site also. Also found Jack Mills Bee Helper Blog. I miss my bees & want them back 😉

  • PLease HELP me. Have honey bees. Can’t get them to leave. Please my # is 214-215-3285. Talked to 3 beekeepers, but no has showed up. Please help me.

    • Lynne,

      First, you need to calm down. Second, you need to say where you live. Not once in the 22 e-mails you sent did you even hint at where you live. In any case, flooding my inbox is not a good way to get a fast answer.

  • This entry made me feel so sad, having to give info on how to *kill* bees when so many of us are trying so hard to save them, but I certainly understand your reasons for doing it – the lesser of several evils. But on to more positive info, I don’t use soap to clean my feeder jars or anything else. I’ve always read that using soap to clean a hummingbird feeder is harmful because it leaves a residue even after thorough rinsing, and only bleach should be used to get rid of mold (the bleach becomes inert after 24 hours?) – I follow that line of thinking with the bees as well. I try to let my syrup sit for 24 hours so the tap water chlorine dissipates – learned that from keeping an aquarium. I don’t know if any of it helps, but it can’t hurt.

    • FYI — Apparently many water districts have switched to using a form of chlorine that does NOT evaporate (chloramine?). You have to mix in another product to make the water safe for fish now 🙁

      • According to the Bard chatbot, “Chloramines are a group of chemical compounds that contain chlorine and ammonia. Chloramines are used as disinfectants to treat drinking water. They are weaker than chlorine but more stable, which extends their disinfectant benefits throughout a water utility’s distribution system.”

        I was always told that chloramines make the smell that we associate with chlorinated water, but I don’t know it that’s true or not.

  • Hi,

    Having a major issue with what someone identified as honey bees. I have been trying everything in the book, all miserable fails. Orange oil mixed with water, peppermint oil, almond oil, cinnamon, cucumbers. Then I tried spraying the soap water and saw more bees then I ever want to see in such close proximity. Basically they congregate by the dryer vent in the apartment complex. I have a dog so I don’t want to spread harmful chemicals, although have had the pest guy spray twice in the past few years. Just need a better antidote, none seem to be working to deter these bugs.

    • Lindsay,

      If they are honey bees, orange, peppermint and almond oils will attract them, not deter them. If they are congregating by the dryer vent, they may be attracted to the scent of fabric softeners, too. If they are just congregating there, and don’t actually live there, the soapy water won’t kill them all; it will only kill the ones it gets on. So even if you get some, others will come later or the next day.

      Are they hurting anything by congregating at the dryer vent? Is just leaving them alone an option? You haven’t said what the real problem is. Usually dryer vents are in out-of-the way places. Have you or others been stung?

  • I’m wondering what’s the best way to get rid of bees around a leaky pipe, no hive. I turned off the water, treated the pipes with water and soap, but the bees won’t leave.

  • I need help to get bees away from my backyard fish pond. They do not live on my property but come to my pond for water. I am not able to do yard work, tend to my fish, or enjoy my yard and pond. I have reached out to neighbours but no one can locate the hive. How can I get them to stop coming into my yard?

    • Louisa,

      I don’t know of a way short of getting rid of the pond. The bees could be coming from many different managed hives or they could be coming from wild hives not managed by anyone. When cooler or rainy weather comes they will probably stop visiting. In any case, they are very unlikely to sting when they are away from their hive like that. Enjoy your yard and try not to worry. The bees are a consequence of having a pond.

    • Seeta,

      First you should find out exactly what they are, bees or wasps—they can be hard to tell apart if you are not familiar. If they are wasps some people will come collect them for their venom. If they are honey bees, sometimes a beekeeper will come and get them for the bees. However, if they are hard to get to, you might have to pay someone to get them out. Sometimes it requires special equipment and some carpentry.

      I would start by having someone take a look and assess the scope of the job. By the way, in certain places, pesticide companies won’t kill honey bees because of public pressure, so knowing what you have is important.

  • For the past several months I have found that I cannot go on the one side of my house and do any work without being completely harassed by bees. They actually follow me until I get out of the area. I have routine pest control service (not for bees but he would have told me if there was a hive) so I am fairly certain there is no hive on my property. I suspect there is a hive in my neighbor’s bushes nearby. I guarantee that this neighbor will not do anything about it. Since I cannot access / locate the hive, what can I do to get rid of these bees (they are not wasps)? It is creating a real problem for me not to be able to work on this side of my house. Sometimes I run to get away from them and they follow me (on this side of the house only)! I do not have any flowers on that side of the house to attract them. thx!

    • Sue,

      It is hard to say what to do unless we know specifically what they are. You say they are not wasps, and that might be true, but they are sometimes not as easy to distinguish as you might think. I’ve seen entomologists debate over whether something is a bee or a wasp, and sometimes it takes a laboratory analysis.

      That said, there are a few bees and wasps that are easy to distinguish, so perhaps you are absolutely right. There are 4000 species of bee in North America and about three times as many species of wasps, but most folks can recognize a honey bee, bumble bee, yellowjacket, or bald-faced hornet.

      If they are ground bees, you wouldn’t see a nest or hive, you would see little holes in the ground. Most ground bees are extremely gentle, though, and they only show up about six weeks a year.

      One question you might ask yourself is whether you are wearing any scented personal products. The fragrances in perfumes, shampoo, deodorant, hand soap, and so forth can often attract both bees and wasps. Another question is about running. Bees detect motion. They are not so apt to see you as the motion you create. Whenever a bees chases me, I just stand absolutely motionless for a few moments until it leaves. By running or flailing at them, you make yourself much easier to find.

      Once they find you, bees are just curious, hoping you are a source of nectar. Wasps may want a bite, depending on how close you are to their home or how threatened they feel. Flailing at them is definitely threatening and grounds (in their minds) to sting.

      If I may say so, the most disturbing part of your question is the “routine pest control service.” If they are using chemicals (and most do), you, your family, pets, and children (if any) are all being exposed on a routine basis as well. These chemicals are not harmless, and most have known exposure thresholds at which poisoning may occur. We hope the chemical companies and the applicators get it all right, because some of these toxins persist in the environment or in living tissues for years. Just like x-rays or drugs, we should limit our exposure to these products as much as possible. “Routine” poisoning of your home is an unhealthy idea and I hope you will reconsider.

  • Rusty, as you know I am a new beekeeper this year and recently found your site. I enjoy reading it and was a bit surprised to find “how to kill bees”. After I think about it a bit I can see people wanting to know that. I got a call from a man in Amarillo, TX. That is 5 hours away from where I live. He wanted me to come and remove bees from a house he owned because the pest control company would not exterminate them unless he could produce a letter from a beekeeper that stated they could not be removed from the house. It is against the law to bring them over the state line without a certificate of good health for the bees from a vet. I didn’t go to remove them and didn’t produce the letter for him. There are so few bees in that part of the country that few people are beekeepers out there. Just wanted to say that some exterminators are still trying to help beekeepers.

    • Clifford,

      Many people are surprised by that post, but as I explained, I would rather people kill them with a non-toxic substance than some poison they bought at Home Depot. Any poison that persists in the environment is bad for all of us.

      Yes, more and more frequently pest control companies are passing on killing honey bees. Some still do, though, so you have to be selective.

  • I never see any hive or nest or swarming just 3-4 honey bees and yes they are honey bees! I have st2unk twice in the last 36 hours sitting on my deck in the country, today was on the lip. Now we had Dr, Pepper and beer on the deck. could that be attracting them? How can I keep them away? my neighbors and I should be able to sit on the deck without being annoyed and stung


    • Deb,

      That sounds so unlike honey bees. Honey bees rarely sting when they are away from their nest, but if say they’re honey bees, they must be.

      So what attracts them? Maybe the drinks, maybe perfume, shampoo, deodorants, or anything with fragrance, maybe flowers on your deck or a water source. Could be a lot of things.

  • Hey there,

    Thanks for the great information. I live in the desert southwest and I am terrified of the threat of Africanized bees. Last year 2 landscapers lost their lives in Douglas Az. to a swarm and it made me cry.

    I have a small number of them that seem to be attracted to my RV (where I live) I hung dryer sheets around my propane tank, and it seemed to keep them out of that area, but I noticed that when I leave my home, and close the door, the noise makes them mad and they fly really fast and act agitated.

    My main question here is, would this behavior differentiate them from honey bees and perhaps indicate my worst fear? The dreaded Africanized bees?

    I have a death allergy and one sting will drop my pulse down to 30 in about 10 minutes, I am so scared. I have epi-pens which will save my life, maybe. The pest control people are so expensive, and I think chemicals are toxic, and if I am wrong I don’t want to kill good bees.

    Thank you ahead of time.

    • Regular (non-Africanized) honey bees can have periods when they act aggressive, often due to dry spells, lack of nectar, or lots of heat. And yes, even loud noise can rile them up. But if you are that allergic, you shouldn’t mess with them. Certainly don’t try to kill them with soap, which will make them even more angry.

      A laboratory analysis is needed to tell an Africanized bee from a regular one, so it is impossible to say from here what you have. Bees are attracted to flowers and to scents such as those found in perfumes and shampoos. When you are outside, try to avoid any scent that might attract a bee.

      I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. Stay away from the bees as much as possible. You may end up having to call a pest control company. Some of them use non-toxic methods, so be sure to ask about that if you end up calling.

  • I registered my name and phone number on the internet. I said I would catch swarms and do some cut outs (after I look and we decide who will be responsible for the repairs if any are required). I received a call from a lady that lives about 20 miles away. I went to look and was driven away from the area by bees. They were over-protective of their area. The lady couldn’t mow the yard in this area.

    I looked on the internet and found a phone number for a state agency in Oklahoma that would come and remove Africanized colonies. I recommend you look for something like this. No one wants Africanized colonies in the area, but we do have them and now we need to deal with them. All bees are not Africanized, of course, but a few are. There is also the danger of a colony making their own queen. They will mate first with the Africanized bees in the area. Now you can have a hot colony.

    • Ron,

      Call a local beekeeping club and see if someone wants them. If they are easy to get, they may take them away. If they are not easy to get, they may be able to suggest an alternative.

  • Hi Rusty,

    I have a question, we moved into the apartment last summer in August. And I started noticing bees (mid of August) (3-5) in my bedroom everyday; some of them would be dead, some trying to get out. They were coming mysteriously into the apartment. I only had them in the bedroom and we had all windows closed. And i have an infant in the house. The dilemma is how do they get in? I have checked all the corners of the window, my husband sealed all possible holes and they still were coming. So i was praying for winter for me not to see them. Now i am worried for my baby and spring is here… i am afraid of seeing them again. What would i do in this case? and How do they get into the apartment (only in one particular room). How do i protect my house from them getting in?

    Thank you.

    • Natalie,

      They may be getting in through the condensation drains in your windows, which frequently happens. It looks like it’s impossible, but bees manage to do it.

      Bees in your home want one thing, and that is to get out. They are not trying to sting you, your child, or anyone else. Of the seven billion humans alive at the moment, most spent their infancy somewhere near a bee or other stinging insect and somehow managed to muddle through.

      Relax and let the bee out if you can. Many of the solitary bees like you describe aren’t even capable of stinging a human. More importantly, your children, like all children, will always need a source of food, and without bees that food may cease to exist. Treasure the bee, try to help it escape, but do not fear it. Like it or not, we are dependent on their existence.

      It can help to put things in perspective too: last year 33,000 Americans died in auto accidents while about 50 died from insect stings, yet people put kids in cars with barely a thought.

  • Honestly though, I wish people would get over their paranoia and just call a beekeeper already. Just because you want them *gone* doesn’t mean they have to be *dead*. Here’s a story on the topic:

    Last fall, my beekeeper friend and mentor called me to help her with a hive out by her house. The homeowner had called a couple of guys billing themselves as “bee removers” who came out, tried to dig the bees out of the tree, got stung, and promptly informed him he had AHB and he should spray them with soapy water for the sake of public safety.

    He did, and got stung, and ran away and then did what he should have done in the first place: called my friend, a real beekeeper. We set up a trap out, got the surviving bees, and now they’re a thriving colony of very sweet and gentle bees. Nicest Africanized honey bees I’ve ever seen.

  • It has been 11 days since I woke to find bees inside the house clustered near my front windows. I thought they had just flown in a window screen or something. But every day since then I have had more bees, some more, some days less. At first I caught them in a jar and put them outside. But today, I woke to find a hundred or so bees at the front windows, more in the kitchen and on the ceiling. I went outside and found many, many bees coming and going and hovering around a small point at the juncture of the roof line of the house where the front and side roofs meet, at the point there. I came inside and looked at the corresponding place in my ceiling where wall and ceiling meet and for the tip of a point, and I saw a few bees near a tiny hole.

    Every place I called to come get them said the only thing that gets rid of them is to kill them and sanitize the area. These bees are apparently in the wall of the house, as we do not have an attic. I live in Sierra Vista Az. I do not think they have been there long as it has only been 11 days since first having bees in the house. I have been researching and found that mint and also cinnamon discourages bees and encourages them to relocate. The place where they come and go, both inside and outside is way up high, about 16 or 18 feet up, so I can not get up there to put cinnamon powder or mint. So, can I boil copious amounts of mint in water on the stove to fill the house with that smell, would that make them relocate… or do the same with cinnamon? Or, make a concentrated water solution of one or both and spray up at the ceiling where they are coming in and around the inside of the house too? I am so in need of some direction. Any help along these lines is appreciated.

    Thank you,

    • Amy,

      1. Are you sure these are honey bees and not wasps?
      2. I routinely use peppermint to attract honey bees, so I know that won’t work.
      3. I doubt cinnamon would route them out either. Cinnamon repels some ants, but I’ve never heard of it repelling bees or wasps. In fact, some beekeepers use cinnamon around their hives to repel ants, but their bees don’t leave.
      4. If these are honey bees, remember that you live in an area that contains Africanized honey bees and you should probably seek help removing them.
      5. You need someone to block off the holes both inside and out. You say the colony hasn’t bee there long, so it’s probably not huge . . . yet. Fix it soon.

      • Thank you for your response Rusty. Responding to your questions…..
        1.) These are indeed bees as i have been up close and personal with them in recent days.
        2., 3.) I read somewhere about the cinnamon in my research trying to deal with this. But, again, I’ve also been finding, as you said, people use it with their bee hives. The boiling cinnamon did nothing in my recent experience boiling it on the stove.
        4.) We do live in an Africanized bee area, we are right next to the border with Mexico. We have had to deal with hundreds of bees coming in our house in recent days waiting for someone to come fill the hole, and non of us have been stung!! Thank goodness. We open up the windows with the screens off and use several fans hoping to help them get out of the house. They only seem to swarm into our house in mid afternoon. A few strays now and then before and after that, which we catch in a jar as they hover right at our windows.
        5.) i have only been able to find one place that will come and remove them. The others i have called are not taking new clients as the swarming is so bad in our area right now that there is a waiting list and it could take weeks before they come, even if they were taking new clients. I guess i am just going to have to gird up my environmental and ethical loins and call the one available exterminator as nothing is working and there are no bee keepers in our area who are looking for more bees. I feel horrible about killing them. Someone is coming to seal up the inside entrance tomorrow, so that is good. Here is one of the websites i have been reading. . Incidentally, this is one of the businesses that is not taking new clients. Every one i talk with says the only recourse is to kill them first, then “properly” sanitized their hive for Africanized bees, as their scenting is different from honey bees. Is this true? Also, how long does it take for a new hive to become a big hive. I mean, if these bees have only been here a few weeks at the most and this hive was only started this swarm season, how big can it get in this amount of time?

        Again, thank you Rusty for your response.

        • Amy,

          I don’t know anything about sanitizing an Africanized honey bee hive. A new hive can become a big hive in a couple of months. Queens can lay up to 2000 eggs per day, which ratchets up the population pretty fast.

  • Hi! How long does it take the bees to relocate once the honey comb is removed. I had a pretty decent size nest under my kids clubhouse that a beekeeper removed today. But tonight there are swarming and flying everywhere around the house. I am afraid to let my dogs out.

    • Christine,

      Bees that were out in the field when their nest was removed come home to find it missing. They will keep searching for a few days, but eventually they will all die. Very sad.

  • How can I get rid of carpenter bees? I just went out to lay out on my deck, where I have done so for years, and it was overtaken with carpenter bees! They were darting at my head constantly. I read all the time that Dawn dish soap kills all sorts of insects and was wondering if that applied to these beasts as well. My kids like to play out on the deck and we often eat our meals out there in the warm weather as well. It is covered with a beautiful wooden trestle, which is getting ruined from them burrowing in the beams. This area cannot become off limits to my family! It was specifically built for summer family time. Any ideas and help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Jessie,

      Carpenter bees are a valuable natural resource and are increasingly threatened by loss of habitat such as cities and towns. They don’t sting and they are only active a few weeks a year. It’s an excellent opportunity for you to teach your children about nature and how bees, in particular, provide us with food and the beauty in our daily lives, things like flowers, gardens, and trees.

      As I child I was fascinated by those perfectly drilled holes, and I still am. Revel in nature, don’t try to cure it. Teach your children to love the creatures of the earth, not to defile them. Your deck may have been built for summer family time, but the bees were there first and you took their home away. How can you fault them for still needing a place to live?

      Put some chunks of untreated wood outside that the bees can have; some might move over to it.

      And by the way, dish soap is dish soap. Why everyone thinks “Dawn” is special is beyond me. If you read the post, you know how it works. The brand has nothing to do with it.

      • They also hate garlic and any fleas powder, so basically, spray them with dishwasher soap, sprinkle the powder, throw in some peeled garlic cloves and be persistent. The queen is extremely stubborn and will not give up so easily.

  • We have just noticed a new hive of honey bees in a tree near our pool. I need to know how to get them to go away. I am all for relocation if we can find someone to come get them. The major problem we have is three of our children have allergies to bees. One even has to have an epi-pen. Three other adults in our neighborhood are also allergic. So anyway, we need them gone by whichever means necessary. We are in North Georgia. Please let me know what my options are. Thanks.

      • Sherry, if you can’t find a beekeeper, call an exterminator company and ask *them* if they know of anyone who would remove the bees. Pest removal companies are starting to wise up about exterminating honeybees and will often have names of beekeepers who will help. Please try to make sure they are actually bees and not hornets or wasps. Hornets build the football sized hives that look like they are made from grey paper-mache.

  • 3 large clusters of very aggressive bees, have shown up in the field behind my street. 14 people have been stung, and one dog almost killed. Just stepping outside will attract a swarm of angry bees. We found a beekeeper to come look at them today, and he retreated in defeat. Really, these bees have to go. There are children in the neighborhood. One little girl was stung over a dozen times. It’s a small town, and the city doesn’t have anyone to take care of bees. The fire dept is volunteer.

    • Shirley,

      If the beekeeper “retreated in defeat” you need a different beekeeper, or do I detect a note of hyperbole here?

  • I have black and yellow bumblebees that are in the ground under my deck next to my house. My deck is ground level so I would need to tear up a few boards to get to them. I have tried several different ways to get rid of them but haven’t tried soap yet. If any beekeeper near the Kent Washington area wants to save them let me know. Both my mother and I are extremely allergic to them and would like them to go away.

      • JJ,

        Who has health problems, you or the bees? I know a couple beekeepers in that area and I will forward your e-mail. Give me a day or two to contact them, okay?

          • JJ,

            Thanks. I’m sorry about your allergies. I just wanted to make sure the bees were healthy before offering them to other beekeepers. I forwarded your message to two people in your area, and others may see this as well. Hope it works out.

  • We have a pool and a slate decking and honey bees have settled in and hang in the wet puddles of water. They are non aggressive and are there daily. We have lots of small children there swimming and playing and the bees are sitting where they walk and play. We would love for them to move on.. we read that garlic was a deterrent. Would this be good to use on the slate at night to deter daytime activity. I read they use this water source to gather water to fan and cool the hive. Is this true and what advice do you have for me. We used peppermint but that did not take care of the problem. Is it the garlic smell that they don’t like ? When is the best time to leave a garlic residue with the kids swimming in the day. Will the smell of garlic make them angry or will it just keep them away. Actually does garlic work like they say or is there something better for this particular situation. We live in Vermont, honeyland !

    • Bettina,

      Peppermint is a honey bee attractant, so that will definitely not work. As for garlic? I doubt it will keep them away. I’ve never heard anything about it one way or the other, but they will put up with many things in order to get a good source of water. And yes, they do use water to cool the hive as well as to drink.

  • I have a managed hive in my yard. I manage the hive. They’re docile. The last three times I mowed, I got popped, and each time I was not near the hive. Couldn’t figure it out, then found a wild hive had moved into a rotten tree closer to my house. There is no way to get to them due to brush. The last time I mowed I had to be in my bee suit. A fellow keeper said that, since the tree is small and there’s not much room for expansion, they will eventually leave. Any ideas?

    • Cyle,

      They might leave, but there are no guarantees. Why don’t you set up a bait hive with some used comb and see if you can lure them into it? It’s a long shot, but if their current space is too small, they might be interested.

  • I have honey bees and need to get rid of them. I called several so called beekeepers and several bee removal people for help. Sadly, no one has mentioned relocating them. All people I spoke to have offered to kill them at a very high price. 🙁

  • Every day 40-60 more bees. Only have seen them gathered on the outside of my home near the roof but all in my window and room.

  • I have one honey bee hive in the roof top corner between brickwall (outside) and rocksheet (inside the house). I had one bee hive removed 6 years ago, the removed it by spraying pesticide and all the bees got killed and the dead ones, wax, etc might still be there and new one has come in the other corner now. I live in PLANO, TEXAS. If soap water is not the solution to remove it permanently, what is the best way to remove it without killing them?

  • I Have what I believe is a honey bee hive in an Oak Tree in my front yard. I Live in Oakfield, Ga which is between Albany and Cordele. Do you know of anybody that might be in this area that maybe would come and give me some guidance on how to handle them. Thank you very much.

  • I have yellow small what I consider a honey bee. Meeting either in my front door area (outside). Do you know if I get a sprayer/bottle with water/dishwashing soap and keep spraying my evergreen and the mulch around its base, although this brings the bees out swarming around, will it eventually kill them off?

  • Hello, I have a bee problem on my car. The car has been sitting next to my house as I was doing repairs on it, and how I see a lot of bees swarming on the side of it, so I believe to have a hive in or near the front fender. Is there anyone you can direct me to that will be able to safely relocate the bees? I am in Lincoln Nebraska, and hopefully don’t have to kill these guys.

    • Tony,

      To get someone interested in relocating them, you will need to determine whether they are bees or wasps. It can be difficult to tell them apart because there are so many different types. A close-up photo would really help. Or you can look for a local beekeeping club on line. Maybe someone would be willing to come and take a look for you.

  • I have honeybees in my bedroom wall. I’ve tried getting beekeepers for the last 2 years so I am sure the hive is HUGE by now. I want to hire a contractor to remove the wall and get the honey and hive removed. It is winter here and I think the bees would be dormant I prefer not to use pesticides and want to try the vinegar and soap solution. Any suggestions?

    • Lois,

      Honey bees don’t go dormant. They actively keep their hive warm all winter. So if you try to kill them with soap they will fly at you (or your contractor) so be ready for that with protective clothing.

  • I’m really in a pickle then. Bee people were supposed to come last Sept but never showed and won’t take my calls or answer my voice messages. Contractors won’t come with live bees. I thought winter would be a good time with the cold temps.

  • I have a hive in the trunk of a large oak tree. Any help in getting rid of them? I’ve tried garlic powder & diatomaceous earth.

  • My neighbor has a new colony of honey bees (he started last summer). We are in the country and aren’t extremely close to them. So far we haven’t had any problems with the bees or been bothered by them. Until yesterday! I came home to find probably 50ish flying in the air around our truck bed. The truck bed had bags of hard maple wood shavings. We didn’t realize they were honey bees until we got up close and personal with them today. Why are they attracted to the wood shavings and how can we get rid of them? They seem very gentle so far and not bothered by us being around them, but I’m allergic and prefer not to have so many in our yard! I will let the neighbor know about them tomorrow but we appreciate your advice!

    • Sarah,

      Honey bees away from the hive where there are no baby bees to protect are very gentle. Still, if you accidentally grabbed one, it would sting. They are often attracted to things like wood chips or shavings, so it is not unusual. The best thing I can advise is to wear gloves while unloading your shavings. The bees will probably disperse as soon as more flowers are in bloom.

  • I have a good one. I am all for saving the honey bees however my neighbor has at least 50 of those boxes and my house gets swarmed every year, usually in the fall but this year they are in my roof already. Does anyone know of any NYS Laws as to how close to a neighbor a person can have a bee farm. I have 2 small children here and I have had it with getting stung. I literally just got stung in the neck about an hour ago while I was in my house. Right now there are several thousand bees going into the top of my house. They are in the wall. I can hear th
    em. Any suggestions? I just wrote our State Senator. I don’t want to kill them but now I have no choice. Just ordered 5 bee zappers
    I know gasoline and fire will end it

    • Dicky,

      Gasoline and fire can end your house too. You are going too far up the food chain to get an answer. Most bee laws are local. First try your homeowners’ association (if you have one). If that doesn’t work, try your town council or county government. The state isn’t going to help you, after all beekeeping is even legal in New York City.

  • I have a nest of bees in crack in a tree I am very allergic. How do I get rid of these bees? I want them gone.

    • Call a local beekeeping club and see if someone will come and get them. They are a valuable resource, so someone probably wants them.

  • Mr rusty : I’ve run across your site after searching for homemade honey bee killers. Here’s the back story. Approx 2 weeks ago a queen and subsequently her swarm/whole hive decided a hole in a tree in my side yard decided to make its new home inside the hole. The tree is less than 8 ft from a bedroom window and is a “property line tree” that runs directly next to my neighbors drive. I also run an inhome daycare center and cannot risk having children stung while they enjoy outdoor time. I left the bees alone for a day thinking they’d move on . No such luck . The next day I called my local bee keeper association. I’ve consulted with 2 keepers including one that lives less than 2 city blocks from me. They both cobfirmed they are honey bees. They both said they’d come to get them and after a few days and no shows and no return calls I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands . I am not a bee keeper and have no interest in being one so the avenue I’ve chosen is killing them. I understand they are benifical and id never try and kill them if they had chosen a different tree in a wooded area. The two avenues of killing available right now to me are borax washing powder and dish detergent. I have a few questions if you don’t mind answering them. How long after the application should I wait and expect them to start moving out/dying? What is the average length of time does it take for the bees to get sick/die I guess this question is after using the killer do I repeat every hour every day every week? What time of day is best to apply the killer?? What would be the best hole filler to use so another new hive isn’t set up? I’ve been thinking of using some of that spray can of expand a foam stuff , but if the bees eat right through it. it would be a waste of time. Also last winter the hole was a home to a squirrel family which is why the hole was left open of like to leave it open but if the bees will return id rather shut it off.. Thanks In advance for your replies.

    • Mr. Rae,

      Here’s the thing: those bees are content doing bee things and will not sting anyone until you start messing with their home and nursery. But once you start they are going to get pissed and remain that way, so I recommend a full protective suit. If you read the post you know that soap kills the bees by suffocation, so some will die quickly, those not completely covered in soapy water, not so much. They will make repeated attempts to guard their own in-home daycare. Remember, it is the young ones they are trying to protect. If the colony has been established for more than a few days, there will be brood of various ages inside the cavity, and unless you get all the bees, the young ones will continue to hatch out for a number of days, so it can be a slow process. I would say if they don’t die quickly from the soap, they won’t die at all unless doused more thoroughly. They colony won’t move out because, like all good parents, they won’t abandon the young to an intruder.

      Once a cavity like that has been chosen by the bees, their odor remains and the site will become attractive to more colonies in the future, so yes you need to fill it somehow. What you fill it with, I have no idea. There is nothing more peaceful and reassuring than having a colony of honey bees coming and going with the gentle sound of a softly purring kitten, so I have never destroyed a nesting site like the one you describe.

      Anyway, my advice would be to keep calling beekeepers until you find someone to come out. It will be better for you and better for the bees. I can tell you that when you start spraying them, it will get very scary.

  • Mr Rusty:
    Thank you for your advice. I’ve had my ear to the ground looking begging and trying to borrow anyone that remotely sounds like a bee keeper. so far nothing has come of it. Ive even contacted the head of reginonal bee acosiation and ive had no responses. As i am licensed daycare provider ( & this is the way I pay my bills work and be a productive member of society) my state dictates my home must remain pest free. Regardless of mine yours or other readers of this site points of view my state regulators have deemed bees of any variation a pest. So peaceful or not they must go. In the last 2 days they have expanded their area so to speak which encompasses my back door where most of the entering and exiting occurs for my business. And now instead of a gentle buzzing its become more of a duck and cover situation. If they are this mean now I would hate to see them mad. Which is something I don’t want to medal with. I guess my next route will be to call a professional exterminator. Thanks again for your insight. You have a great site here.

    • Rae,

      I see your point. But I would much rather my children be exposed to bees than to pesticides. We have no idea the extent of damage a nerve gas derivative can do to a developing body and brain. So sad.

  • Thanks for this tip. We have a wild hive somewhere in our area. Normally love to have them, they are usually docile. But this year they have discovered our pool, and seem pretty protective of it.

    Just put put a bucket full of pool water far away from the pool in terms direction the bees fly. Added a towel draped over the edge and a floating sponge from them to land on and drink. Have started spaying the forages at the pool with soapy water. Hoping they will find the more convenient source of water soon…and tips to make that more attractive than the pool?

    • Rebecca,

      Once they establish a routine, it’s hard to break it. I’ve heard of some folks adding a little sugar to the alternate source to make it more attractive. You might give that a try.

  • Rusty,

    I have honey bees under/top of my breezeway from my house to my carport? I have not seen a hive. I have seen them swarm around the top of the breezeway and flying up in the crack of the breezeway. How do I get rid of them, and I don’t have a beekeeper near by. Please help.

    • If you can’t find a beekeeper, and you can’t let them stay, you will probably have to hire a pest control company.

  • Hello,

    I live in the southwest. After reading your info. I am a bit upset. I have had bees under a shed in my yard. I have had them for over ten years. I had them removed about 7 years ago as we cannot go into the shed. They have several openings along the base of the shed in the metal frame four of which are right below the door. I found out that all honey type bees are considered Africanized in this area. When they were killed and removed years ago I assumed they used non-toxic substances now I’m upset to find out you have to really question them.

    I had a beekeeper come here last fall. He was not a friendly guy and told me to move everything out of the shed and cut the floor out and call him and he would come remove them. I can’t get in the shed because of the bees let alone cut the floor out! So back to the pest control companies. The perimeters around the shed and the holes that have now been dug by the bees have been treated 4 times. A week or so later they are back and the numbers are huge. I was told that I have to dig under there and remove every bit of honey. After it was treated I got a hoe and started to dig around the perimeter and a few came out so being an older woman and not as quick on my feet as I used to be I stopped trying to get to the honey. I love my bees but they are getting more and more aggressive and I can’t use my shed or that back area. What can I do?

    • Loni,

      If you really want to get rid of them, I would do what the guy suggested and dig out all the comb and honey and then backfill all the open spaces. But first buy some protective gear. You can buy a Tyvek suit at Home Depot and wear it along with an insect veil that you can buy online. It will be cheaper than re-hiring the pest control guy all the time.

  • After I was attacked by Africanized bees (landed in the hospital, actually), we had to destroy that hive (before anyone gets upset, we were instructed to do so by the state entomologist AND by the county extension agency–and they were a danger. WELL…hubby searched the internet and found this article. Thank you so much! You can actually read the “how it worked” here:

    We would probably do some things differently next time, but it was an emergency–and a heartbreak. Thanks for the help.

  • How fast does the soap method work? i am crrently forced to stay inside as i have a swarm and hive on a rail next to my front door. im not sre what else to do as i cant get out, and other people can not get in. they are starting to try to come in the apartment, and i have killed ten so far that have gotten in within one hour.

  • Rusty, I live in Loveland, CO and just noticed many sweat bees, I think, entering and leaving a mortar & rock pillar near my front door. Without deconstructing that area, I have no idea what the bees have built inside the structure. Will spraying soapy water through the holes in the mortar get them to move or will tuck-pointing the missing mortar between the rocks entomb them so they cannot get out?

    • KG,

      Well, I’m sure didn’t build much in there. They are probably just laying eggs in the narrow spaces between the rocks. They like that type of environment. Soapy water will only kill the adults, not the bees in cocoons. Yes, you could entomb them. Sad, but true.

  • Hi, I have a pineapple palm tree that had alot of the yellow flowers on it. Yesterday I noticed there were alot of bees on the flowers. I got brave and cut all the flowers out with a long branch cutter to help keep my distance. This morning the bees are still there. I can’t tell if there is a nest because First off I’m not about to get that close and also there are so many palm branches it’s a very crowded area. I’d like to use the soap but am worried if there is a nest they will attack me while I am spraying. Can I just make a bucket of the soap mix dump it and run?

    • Michelle,

      Yes, there could be a nest in there. Why is it so important to remove the bees? If you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. Dumping a pail of soapy water will likely get you stung. The bees will most probably disappear on their own in a few weeks, but right now they are pollinating your garden and assuring we will have flowering plants in the future.

  • Rusty,
    Well I am absolutely terrified of bees. I was attacked by a swarm as a young child. The palm is only about two feet from my back patio which I use alot and I am concerned there is a nest. If I could be sure there wasn’t I’d try to live with it but I have a fear they are building a nest in there and I can’t see it. Also the area they are is only about 3 ft off the ground it’s not like it’s way high away from me. Also In a couple weeks I am going to be work in that area on cutting the base of the palm back as it is up against a wall that I want to paint. If there is a nest and/or they are still there I am sure to get attacked when sawing the base back.

    • Michelle,

      I’m sad to hear you are terrified of bees because they are so fascinating and so helpful to us. Nevertheless, if you are terrified you should not try killing them with soap as you will rile them up. I don’t know what else to tell you because I don’t know what kind of bees you have, and it doesn’t sound like you are up for taking some close-up photographs. If you do happen to find a dead one, though, and send a photo, I will perhaps be able to give you some more ideas.

    • Shannon,

      Try calling your county extension office. They sometimes keep lists of beekeepers. Your Terrell County Extension office is (432) 345-2291.

    • Irene,

      It depends what of kind of soap it is and how much you use, but I wouldn’t spray it in an apartment. Sounds messy.

  • I have a colony of honey bees that have been living in the ceiling of my pool house for a couple of seasons now. I sealed the entry with airisol foam thinking I would in tomb them and be done. Now they have gathered in a great cluster on the other end of the pool house. Do you think they getting ready to leave?

    • Rob,

      They may be getting ready, especially if they have gathered in one big clump. Make sure they can leave the pool house easily, and give them a day or two. Sometimes it takes them a while to decide where to go next.

  • Hi Rusty,

    We’re in the boot heel of New Mexico/AZ. The bee population seems to be healthy and expanding. Unfortunately, the best bee houses are in or near human houses. We (residents) assume the colonies are Africanized and so, usually decide to eliminate the colony. (No beekeepers in our area.) We have plenty of open spaces away from human houses but suitable shelter for wild bees is apparently insufficient. I’ve seen bees build in some strange places, ie. badger holes, under a cliff etc. Do you know of any organizations or programs that provide types of housing that could be placed in remote locations and marked as unsafe for human traffic? I’m considering a top bar hive for personal use on 20 acres. Thanks for your time and effort.

    • Joe,

      No, I don’t know of any organization like that. Some people keep Africanized bees for honey, but I don’t know of anyone that just builds shelter for them.

      • Okey Dokey. Thanks. I helped a neighbor kill a new colony yesterday and I’m headed back to AZ today to kill another colony that has started building above a “snowbirds” doorway. I’ll try the soapy water on this one. There used to be a thriving honey producer in our valley, but they gave it up. I do have access to a lot of their old (dilapidated) supers. Something to think about. CYA. J

  • I have a question I know nothing about what kind of bees there are but I do know there is bees and wasps swarming my entrance door… also the door I let my dog out on her leash too but everyday I come home I have noticed ALOT of bees and wasps some them have even entered my house when I try running it… it’s really scary my boyfriend is allergic to them and im pretty sure I am as well. Idk what to do because of the way my landlord is. He’s not very good at keeping up the property very well. And I’m on a lease so I can’t just move and it’s really not an option due to finances. Can someone please tell me what to do? Please help!

    • Samantha,

      I can’t help you because I don’t know where you live (place, climate?). And since I don’t know if they are bees or wasps, I can’t guess where they are living. Do you have flowers growing around your doors? If so, that might draw bees, but it wouldn’t draw wasps so much. As for allergies, you would need to know what you are dealing with. A person allergic to one type of bee or wasp isn’t necessarily allergic to another kind. It makes a difference because their poisons are different. There’s just not enough information here for me to give advice.

  • I have had bees nesting in a brick veneer cavity wall. Not my idea but I sprayed the entrance (carefully) with a peppermint oil and water mix. Whether they simply did not like it or the nest died out, it seemed to have done the trick – they vacated.

      • If beekeepers are using peppermint oil to attract bees, they must be having a hard time of it. I left it until spring to confirm what I suggested. I am using a few drops of PEPPERMINT (mentha arvensis) essential oil in water. I had bees working a small honey spill after extracting and sprayed some of the mixture a few inches from the spill. The peppermint is certainly not an attractant – the bees left in less than a minute and would not again come near the honey until the peppermint volatiles dispersed (or whatever they do). I even added more honey but they would not come near it for some time. Maybe there are different varieties of what we call “peppermint oil”.

  • Interesting – there seems to be a lot of contradictory ideas out there about that. Maybe something else is going on like pheremone masking that may have upset them. In any case it SEEMED to work for me and now you have put me on a mission to check it out a bit more thoroughly. It was distilled or peppermint extract (essential oil) I used.

  • Hi Rusty,

    Really enjoyed the article. I live in Raleigh, NC and have had problems with carpenter bees taking up residence in our wooden mailbox post. Well, this year they came back but then disappeared about 2 weeks ago and in their place are some very aggressive wasp looking things. During the day there are about 7-10 flying around the mailbox and chasing off anything that gets close. I have tried traps and sprays to remove them but nothing has worked. I’m hesitant to try soapy water since nothing else has seemed to affect them and I’m not entirely sure what they are. Any suggestions?

    • Chris,

      You could try sealing the holes with plastic wood or some other non-wood compound. If I had just a few dozen like that, I would catch them with a butterfly net and step on them.

  • How long will bees survive, including queen, trapped inside a totally dark, lightless basement wall? I visit in evenings, turn lights on briefly and notice many dead or drunk-like bees on the ground. I vacuum them up. When will this end? I sealed their entrance to the house.

    • Bob,

      Colonies can generally last the winter in an enclosed space, as long as they hve fresh air and plenty of food. There will always be dead bees because they have a finite life span. Use only red lights because white light will draw them out. Make sure their honey is low in ash (light-colored honey) in order to prevent honey bee dysentery.

  • Last year I woke up to several bees inside my window. I would kill thrm and more come in. There was a large swarm of them congregating on an eave. I haven’t had a bee problem since 2003, and fire department came and suds them out. So anyways last year we used a power washer filled with Dawn and poison (yes I understand you’re against poison). SO this evening I come home, and bees were in my window again. Mind you I never open this window, but it must have weak insulation around it and caulk. I sprayed them with wasp spray and killed them, 6. I went outside and sprayed around all of my windows and doors. Will this keep the bees away? Why do they come back to a spot where there is NO hives?
    Need your opinion,

  • We live in NW Houston and have returning bees to our 2nd floor attic. We did not want to kill the bees. So we called a beekeeper the first time about 4 years ago. He worked hard in hot conditions and removed a lot of honey comb between the brick and attic wall at the corner of the 2nd floor removing a portion of the treated pine roof. His fee $600. 2 years later we had bees inside the attic in the same corner of the house. A different beekeeper came with a helper and was using a vacuum but said it probably killed more than it saved. He said he sterilized & wrapped the wood with a foil that would prevent them from returning to that spot. That fee $800. Now we have the same problem. There is a huge oak tree near but nothing touches the house and it is trimmed yearly but it offers shade to that part of the house in the hot summer months. We also have a couple of ponds in the back yard; the bees are in the front. I would like to just leave them alone but everyone says they will cause too big a problem. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you have.

  • Hi, we took on a hive this year in the Texas Panhandle, everything’s been running smoothly, in the last week, a strong odor or smell is coming from the hive. My wife and I got into the bees on 8/20 to determine the source of the smell and they seemed very, very aggressive. We closed it up and got out of there. We had a beekeeper come out this morning, within 5 minutes they were swarming us. I got stung on the left ear thru my bonnet and it was game on. I ended up with 30+ stings on my upper body and ankles. As I ran into my metal shop, they followed me in there and the only way I could free myself was to kill them. After I went for medical treatment, we spoke with the beekeeper and she recommended we kill the hive [colony]. My wife and I hate to do this but the aggressiveness must stop, they are with 50 yards of our back door. I went out this evening and was stung on the left eye lid. I’ve found a cotton crop we can take them so they can get in the flow and to so we can eliminate this. Whats your thoughts! The keeper did suggest we give them a few weeks undisturbed, separate the hives, kill the existing queen (if shes there) and introduce two new queens knowing this may or may not work. Thanks for your time.

    • Brad,

      In your part of the country, they could have some africanized honey bee genes. The beekeeper is right, however, they could just be irritable from the heat and lack of forage. If they don’t calm down after being in the cotton, requeening is probably the next step.

  • Thanks. Been using soapy water on yellow jackets for a few days and I think their numbers are dwindling. At first I used 2/3 vinegar and 1/3 water but that didn’t seem to be working.
    Hate to kill them but when they build their nest inside the wall of my condo, I have little choice but to exterminate them. Will only be a matter of time before they drill holes into the inside of my condo itself.

    If this doesn’t get rid of them all, I have poisonous spray being delivered soon. Will try spraying that in their hole early in the morning before sunrise.

  • I feel like bees are necessary for human life and if we kill them all you can’t catch flies because your not so sweet, honey 🙂

  • This is an article about killing bees [outrageous]. I asked about keeping bees safe while killing blackfly and requested information as such. I am appalled that I get information about killing bees, however gently.

  • I had a local beekeeper come out to remove a hive in my fence. They were removing a board 16 feet away from the hive entrance and the bees attacked them aggressively. The bees then followed them all the way to the front of the house and into the car. They had to drive on the freeway to get rid of them. They have moved over 400 hives and this is the first time they recommended an exterminator. So I contacted the exterminator and they want $1000. I have to do this myself. Bought a bee suit. Do you have a recipe for the concentration of soap that will be effective.

  • Rusty,

    I have 7 hives in Michigan, 6-year beekeeper. One hive has been unmanageable at every inspection for a year now. I tried light smoking, heavy smoking, and sugar water to calm them as I inspected to no avail. I finally decided to requeen today at ANY cost as this colony was so violent, something had to be done to end the horrible genetics. In my attempt to get a queen cell in, their behavior became that of what I hear Africanized bees are like. I had enough (25-30 stings) so I doused the whole hive with a 1/4 cup liquid detergent per gallon of water. They expired immediately. The big question is can I rinse everything off, air it out, and reuse the comb?

  • I have kept bees for 25 years, currently have 7 hives in central Oregon. I have a very “hot” hive that I think I need to destroy. My question is, do you think the soapy water made with dish soap will make the drawn comb from the hive unusable? Most of the comb is only one year old. I didn’t see this addressed anywhere in previous posts on this topic. Or, do you know of any other water-soluble oils or other liquids that might do the job without contaminating the comb? Maybe mineral oil well-stirred? Since it has been tried as a fog treatment for varroa mites.


    • Dennis,

      I don’t think oil will kill as fast as soap, so I wouldn’t use that. I also don’t think the soap will harm the comb. The bees polish comb before they re-use it, so they will remove any residue. I know people who have used soap on hot hives without any problems with comb or contamination.

  • We had to kill one of our hives yesterday. I didn’t know how I was going to do it without affecting our other hives until I saw this, so thanks! With the comb in the hive we killed, is it all trash now?

    • David,

      Colony. You killed a colony, no doubt the hive is still there. I don’t understand your question, though. The combs should be fine. Why would it become trash?

  • Hi Rusty,

    Long time reader, first time commenter. So, I had to euthanise a hive, and I decided to go with the soapy water. My question to you use now I have all this equipment. Can I reuse the frames/drawn comb? A lot of it is in great shape, but I worry about the soap residue and if this will be harmful to new bees. I rinsed the frames off do you think that will be enough? There was no evidence of AFB or EFB or other diseases.


    • Kevin,

      I wouldn’t worry about it. The soap itself is not harmful except when soapy water completely covers the bee’s body. The dry soap (if any is left after you rinsed the frames) will be cleaned out and removed by the bees.

      • Hi, Rusty.

        Thanks for addressing this; I had the same question. I am in my second year of beekeeping and, unfortunately, my colony did not survive the dearth of flowers/nectar this past August. I’d put some bee food inside the hive, but it was too little, too late.

        Yellowjackets, however, have moved in and are now inside the hive. I have a top-bar hive that is full of drawn comb. So, I’ll most likely completely douse the honeycomb with the soapy water in the process of dousing the yellowjackets. I plan to use Seventh Generation dish soap, so I just wish to confirm that I won’t ruin the honeycomb. And, if you have any further tips on removing yellowjackets from the hive, I would really appreciate it.

        Thanks so much!

        • Mojoyin,

          I think I would just lock up the yellowjackets. Close up the hive so new ones can’t get in and the old ones can’t get out. They will eventually die.

          The soap most likely won’t hurt the combs, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have to. If you’ve already done it, though, I wouldn’t worry. The new bees will clean up the soap residue in no time.

          • Hi, Rusty.

            Thanks so much for suggesting the alternative approach — it helped me to focus on simply isolating the food source and yesterday morning I had an opportunity to give it a go with the temperatures being in the low 40s °F. The yellowjackets were lethargic enough that I could easily and uneventfully move them and the food source into a zip-loc bag. Fortunately, there weren’t as many yellowjackets inside the hive as I’d originally thought, only about a dozen. The stragglers that came around, later on, met my portable vacuum, which now has tape over the ports.


  • Hello there!

    First of all, THANK YOU! We are in quite a pickle with some bees that have set up home in our chimney. I’m surprised how many people are so angry with this advice – you make it clear to save them, when possible, but that’s not always an option. We have called numerous bee removal services in our area, and they range from $300-$400 JUST to deal with the bees, but if there is honeycomb, or repairs needed, they charge separately for that (which I understand). That said, we certainly don’t have money like that lying around, and ALL the companies have said that they WILL have to exterminate them based on them being IN the chimney, and not outside.

    So! I can either pay money I don’t have for someone to come and spray toxic poison down my chimney, or I can try to find a way to take care of it without harming my family, or the rest of the environment.

    Not everyone has the resources to be able to hire someone to deal with bees. And contrary to popular belief, I have found ZERO beekeepers that will come out and take the bees for free. So for all the haters – be mindful that there are a number of circumstances that might necessitate using soapy water.

    Thank you, Rusty!!

  • Rusty, thank you for maintaining this article and all the comments. Just wanted to express appreciation that you’re still helping people with this, after so many years.

    Thanks for the work you are doing to help people coexist with the bees of the world. And for your kindness, patience, and wit, when dealing with people who feel endangered and sometimes terrified. And for realizing that “less death” is a respectable goal, when “no death” is a lost cause. You have created a little oasis in the chaos of the internet, and that is a valuable thing.

    My contribution to future readers on a similar side-quest: Soapy water (lots of soap!) was sufficient to eventually dissolve a paper wasp nest that was built directly above my front door. I sprayed it with a squirt bottle after dark, pretty well wetting down one whole side of it (it was recent, so only about 2 inches across). I did not try to do anything more destructive. I made no effort to cover every individual wasp with soapy water — they were mostly asleep. The nest looked undamaged, just wet. I repeated that a couple more nights. The nest fell apart shortly after, and thus patience (and having a backdoor we could use in the meantime) was the key to avoiding a scary battle. And I was able to report this inexpensive non-toxic solution (ha) to my neighbors, who had been kindly offering to spray the nest with one of their numerous cans of poisonous wasp spray. I’m very grateful the poisonous spray could be avoided, and is NOT covering my front porch, or getting tracked into the house forever after.

  • This is not strictly a honey bee question, but I’m hoping you might have some idea. Are bumble bees in general even capable of relocating an active hive?

    At the beginning of June, I discovered that my beloved local bumble bees had, this year, chosen to nest on the ground inside our 7’x 14′ dog kennel. This was not going to work. The kennel has to be regularly used, when no human is home to supervise or respond to emergencies. The dog has to be safe. And we are unable to just get a second kennel.

    I did have a few days to try to resolve this. So, I used a garden hose to start flooding the ground near the nest. On day 2, 3, and 4, I moved the flooding incrementally closer to where I thought the nest was. I only flooded once a day, for about an hour each evening, hoping they’d use the warm part of the day to move house. I think I never saw a bee after about day 3. On day 5, I flooded the whole area with a final drench of soapy water (mostly because I saw a couple yellowjackets in the area, which was alarming and confusing) and dug all the bedding (soggy wood shavings) out of the area. I never saw a nest or any bodies. I guess the nest could have been deeper in the gravel floor base, or in a small log I uncovered (that looked intact).

    That whole time, I was assuming the bumble bees had the *ability* to move away. I guess based on watching ants as a kid, it seemed reasonable that bees could “move house,” too.

    Belatedly, I am wondering if that is even possible. Did I actually just kill them? Bumble bees nest somewhere in my yard every year. I have stumps, and brush piles, and sheds they are welcome to. They even lived in a wall of my house for three different years. We’ve always co-existed peacefully. I was aiming for “least effective force,” but maybe my whole theory was wrong. Thank you for any insight you can share.

    • Liz,

      I don’t know for sure, but it sounds like you probably destroyed/flooded the nest and any baby bees that were in it. The adult bees can fly away, but the nest is more substantial and the bees wouldn’t be able to move it. The best you can hope for is the queen tried to start a new nest elsewhere. If you got soapy water on any of the bees of any age, they would die, too.

        • Liz, I think we’re all just hoping to be judged by what we meant to do or hoped to do or tried to do, and not by all the things we didn’t know and screwed up.

  • Can I zap yellowjackets via Alpine-WSG in 32 oz. spray bottle? If so, how to get it into the spray bottle? I got bitten, and don’t want to anger them anymore (thus my wanting Alpine). Also, how can I email you pics for clarification? As I’m concerned yellowjackets or groundhogs may penetrate my foundation.

    I’m in Northeast U.S. and last week I noticed that one of the window wells in my north-side backyard had its former gravel displaced, and instead (within the well) there was sand/earth sloping down toward a hole. The hole was on the left side, inside the well. The hole was big enough to look like a groundhog hole. Directly to the right of the circular metal window well was a significant heap of dirt (at ground level, outside the well) indicating that some creature displaced a lot of the earth that was formerly inside the well. Not just the gravel. There were also yellowjackets buzzing around annoyingly, while I was toiling in the humid weather to toss rocks into the hole to block it. Eventually I got stung by one of the yellowjackets who entered my collar and bit my back. I’m trying to figure out, did yellowjackets take over the hole dug by groundhog?

    What are the risks of ignoring it? Some added info: Approx. 20 years ago, to avoid floods in basement, trenches were dug along the front and back of my house, and filled with gravel. The window wells were also filled with gravel, and clear-plastic sloping covers were affixed over them. But when they became very degraded, my lawn mower guy removed them at my request. The ones in the front yard are still in place, but also degrading. Thanks!

    • Judy,

      You can certainly try to spray yellowjackets with Alpine-WSG. The granules are water soluble, so just follow the directions on the container. Be mindful that the active ingredient is Dinotefuran, a neonicotinoid that is highly toxic to bees, including honey bees.

      Yellowjackets are known for using abandoned rodent holes for nesting cavities, so it would not be at all surprising if they’ve chosen a groundhog hole for their home. Tossing rocks in probably will not help; they will just work around them. If you could really pack it tight, enough to destroy the combs and kill the brood, that might work.

      There are not many risks to ignoring it. The nest will die out at the first hard freeze, and most often they will not use the same nest in following years. At any rate, after the first freeze is a good time to solidly fill the hole if you don’t succeed at doing it while they’re still alive. If the yellowjackets are not chasing you, you can just wait till they die. I have a busy nest near my front sidewalk that I’m ignoring. They go in and out a lot, but they don’t seem to chase anyone.

      If you want to send photos, you can email them to me here:

      • Thank you so much for your info, Rusty! I’m getting ready to email you my pics.

        Do groundhog holes run very deep? How does one solidly fill the hole? I don’t have gravel handy (just the dirt which was displaced), and besides, if the groundhog dug up dirt and/or gravel from the window-well, it can do it again.

        • Judy,

          A quick Google search reveals that groundhog burrows are generally no deeper than 6 feet but can run 50-100 feet laterally.

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