How to Get Rid of Bees (2024 Guide)

By Amanda Lutz Updated February 12, 2024

While bees are important pollinators that help gardens to grow, they can easily become nuisances around your property. These insects build nests that may compromise your garage and attic, and they can swarm and sting when feeling threatened. Read more for tips on how to remove bees and nests using do-it-yourself (DIY) methods, information on when to call professionals, and steps to prevent future bee infestations.


Understanding Bees

Bees play a critically important role in biodiversity. They’re active pollinators, promote the growth of crops, and provide pollen, honey, and beeswax. Scientists and gardeners regularly advocate for safe havens for bees, especially since bee populations are struggling to survive in the face of pesticides and the effects of climate change.

That doesn’t change the fact, however, that bees can cause headaches for homeowners and may be dangerous to people with severe bee allergies. If you’re struggling to keep bees away, consider how inviting your garden might be and keep an eye on the following:

These same factors can also encourage wasps and hornets to infest your property.

Bees are hardwired to seek out food and other bees. If they find appealing ecosystems such as undisturbed structures, untrimmed plants, and cool, safe attic spaces, a queen may decide to form a colony and construct a large beehive.

It can be difficult to balance making your garden inviting to bees, but not enough for bees to build nests on your property. Start by learning about different types of bees, their behaviors, and the warning signs of a hive. Then, you can move on to managing and getting rid of bees.


Types of Bees

There are thousands of bee species you might see depending on the region in which you live, the types of plants on your property, and how well you maintain your landscape. Scientists categorize bees into seven main families that share characteristics and three broader groups: bumblebees, honeybees, and solitary bees.

Bumblebees

Bumblebees are very social bees, and their colonies can include anywhere from 50 to 400 bees. The bees are fuzzy and colorful, and their nests look like piles of debris.

Bumblebees aren’t particularly aggressive, and most varieties are very small. This makes them far less dangerous than other types of bees.

Honeybees

Honeybees produce honey, as their names suggest, and they can be especially helpful to your plants. They’re fuzzy, have yellow and black stripes, and come with barrel-shaped bodies. You might see them flying from flower to flower as they gather pollen and nectar.

Honeybees usually have very large nests, and colonies often include tens of thousands of bees. They can pose a safety risk to those with severe allergies. If you suspect the presence of a honeybee nest in a nearby tree or inside your home, we recommend calling a specialist to move the nest to another location where the bees can safely thrive.

Solitary Bees

Solitary bees live alone, don’t create beehives, and never label a queen bee. While they may nest nearby to other members of their species, they don’t cooperate or store honey. This makes solitary bees less of a threat than bees that operate together.

These bees are excellent pollinators, and many gardeners set up solitary bee homes near flower beds. There are several different species of solitary and ground bees, and each one has its own characteristics. The carpenter bee, for example, is typically the biggest solitary bee, and it burrows into wood to create nests.

Wasps are another common insect that’s easily confused with bees. Both have stripes, but wasps have sharper, more defined stripes. They also have longer, narrower bodies versus rounder and fuzzier bee species.


Why Bees Invade Your Property

Some homeowners deliberately try to invite bees to their properties, but others unwittingly make their homes comfortable for bees. Below are some reasons why bees might suddenly be flocking to your property.

Easy Access to Food and Water

Bees need water and food, and they prefer to build nests where both are easily accessible. Sources of water can include ponds, puddles, and even overgrown plants that collect a lot of moisture. Bees regularly turn to these sources for food:

Safe Areas for Nests and Hives

Bees may temporarily visit your yard if they find food and water, but they’ll only start building nests if the space is undisturbed. Overgrown hedges, fence posts, hollow trees, and even your home itself can make bees feel safe.

The amount of space that bees need depends on the size of their colonies. Solitary bees only need a small crevice near food, while bumblebees commonly build hives behind fence posts or in shrubs. Honeybees require far more space and will nest in hollow trees, attics or garages, or in the walls of old barns and sheds.

Unsealed Trash

Uncovered trash can invite bees to your property in the same way that fruit and flowers do. Bees may investigate your trash cans or buzz around outdoor kitchens in search of scraps. Even dropped wrappers and soda rings on a table could get a bee’s attention.


DIY Bee Removal Methods

If you see a lot of bees around your home or have found a nest, consider the following DIY removal methods:

Insecticide Sprays and Powders

Your local store will likely carry many different bee sprays and powders. Try to identify which type of bee has swarmed your property and select the right chemical to manage that type. Chemical applications will paralyze and kill bees at the application site.

Aim to spray the beehive at dusk or during the night, when bees are less active and more likely to be within their nests. Make sure to wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, pants, gloves, and a hat.

Consider purchasing a pet-safe and child-safe dust, too. You can apply the powder around your home’s doorways and cracks to deter bees from entering your home to build a new nest.

Poison the Bees with Vinegar

Vinegar fumes can repel bees and even suffocate them. Below are two ways to repel bees using organic, pet-safe, and child-safe vinegar sprays:

  1. Mix water with vinegar, and place cups of this solution near the nest. Vinegar fumes will start to kill the bees as they attempt to drink the water.
  2. Spray a nest directly with a mix of water and vinegar. Continue to use the spray bottle each week until the bees are either dead or have chosen to leave the nest.

Repel Bees Before They Build a Nest

The best DIY method of managing bee problems is prevention rather than extermination. You can make your yard less welcoming to bees with the following strategies:


Professional Bee Removal

You can call in a pest control company to handle bees if you’re allergic to bee stings or don’t want to deal with a large infestation. Bee exterminators will kill colonies or remove nests, while honeybee relocators can remove bees and safely bring them to a bee farm.

Professional bee-removal companies provide these services:

Calling in a professional pest control service might be more expensive than handling bees with DIY methods, but it’s likely a safer option.


Preventing Future Infestations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends following the steps below to create a multilayered defense against bees:


Our Recommendation

Bees help to pollinate flowers and crops, but properties that are too inviting could encourage large and dangerous bee colonies. If you see warning signs such as a large number of lingering bees or a physical nest, take steps to deter and remove them. You can either use DIY pesticides to manage an infestation or may want to consider calling a professional service. Pest control efforts and consistent use of home remedies are the best ways to protect your home from bee infestations.

If you’re dealing with a honeybee nest, we recommend calling a relocation company or a local beekeeper to safely move the nest away.


How to Get Rid of Bees FAQ

What is the quickest way to get rid of bees?

The quickest way to get rid of bees is by applying pesticides directly to nests. You can either use consumer-grade sprays and powders or can hire professional exterminators to kill the bees and remove their nests.

What makes bees go away?

You can make bees go away by adding scents they dislike wherever you’ve noticed them. Apply citronella oil, lavender oil, or peppermint oil to nearby surfaces to deter the presence of bees. You can also keep bees away by sealing windowsill cracks and trimming shrubs that could offer outdoor shelter.

What kills bees’ nests instantly?

Boiling water can kill a nest instantly if the nest is either in or on the ground. This method can be dangerous, however, so we recommend first spraying a pesticide to kill the bees inside the nest, and then removing or destroying the nest once the bees are dead.

What’s the best way to prevent bees from returning?

Prevent bees from returning to your yard by eliminating sources of food and shelter. This strategy includes sealing any cracks through which bees can enter your home, trimming plants and trees on your property, and removing trash or sources of sugar.