Use caution when removing bee infestations

Dear Angie: I have bees in my greenhouse that bore into my redwood benches. Is there anything I can do to get rid of them ? I really don’t want to call an exterminator if I don’t have to. – William K., Greenwich, Conn.

Dear William: It sounds like you have carpenter bees, however identification is an important first step and that’s where calling in a professional can help. Honeybees are a key player in plant pollination, and there are current concerns about whether these bees are in danger of extinction. If a pest control expert determines you have honeybees, a professional beekeeper can safely remove and relocate the colony. Carpenter bees are fairly harmless, but can be a nuisance. Unless there’s a threat to a person’s safety, or in your case, property damage, many experts recommend letting the bees nest where they are.

A beekeeper can also remove and relocate carpenter bees, of course. If you want to do remove them yourself, use an appropriate pesticide. If the nest is visible, the best time to treat is at night, when all the insects are at the nest. If the nest is not visible, experts recommend blowing a dust pesticide into the opening during the daytime when the insects are coming and going. The traffic will ensure the pesticide gets into the nest no matter how deeply it is placed within the wall. Wipe up and discard any residue from the dust to protect your family and pets. If you take this on yourself, wear protective coverings to minimize your chances of being stung. Multiple stings, or an allergic reaction, could result in a trip to the emergency room. The use of any pesticide requires strict attention to safety measures, so despite your preference, you really might be better off bringing in professional help for the whole project. Once the bees are gone, you can safely cork the holes in your benches or seal the wood with a quality sealer or stain to make the wood less attractive to the bees.

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