Did you know that North Dakota is the number one honey-producing state in the U.S.? Honey is used as an ingredient in many items, from food to beauty products. Whether you use it to sweeten tea or in skin care products, the honey produced here is shipped to consumers around the country. As reported by the state, in 2018 North Dakota produced more than 38 million pounds of honey worth more than $71 million. In addition to honeybees, yellow jackets, paper wasps, and bumblebees are all found in the Upper Midwest, according to the University of Minnesota.
In fact, there are nearly 20,000 different kinds of bees and wasps in the world and 4,000 living in the U.S. As many honey-producers throughout our area know, bees play an important role in creating and sustaining a healthy ecosystem. From pollinating flowers and trees to helping crops grow and producing honey, bees are an essential neighbor to have in Minnesota and North Dakota. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, bees pollinate 75% of our plants in the U.S. and help more than $15 billion in crops grow each year. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t also cause damage too.
Even if you are not allergic to bees, you may know someone who is. People allergic to bee stings can experience major health impacts when stung. If you’re not allergic, a bee or wasp sting is still not something to look forward to! That’s why bees and wasps are better left outdoors and away from our homes. When they come indoors or build nests on or near homes, bees and wasps can cause lasting damage that is both time-consuming and expensive to fix. Let’s take a look at a few of the main types of bees and wasps to look for around your home, where they build their nests, and what damage they can cause to a home.
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Finding bee and wasp hives near your home
If you see a honeybee, wasp, or other stinging insect in your yard or inside your home, they may have chosen your property to build a home themselves. These pollinators are an important part of our ecosystem and can help sustain healthy crops and beautiful gardens. Unfortunately, they can also cause painful stings and welts, as well as property damage. To find bee and wasp hives, it’s important to look in the most common areas where they are known to build their nests. For a thorough search, you’ll need to look inside and outside the home, from the attic to the basement.
Look inside the home to find:
- Paper wasps, which build homes inside attics
- Honeybees and yellow jackets, which can hide inside walls
- Carpenter bees, which damage homes by drilling holes into wood materials, including the home’s structural support beams
Look up and outside to find:
- Paper wasp nests attached to a home’s gutters and siding material
- Yellow jackets building nests along the eaves of a home
Look inside, outside, and down to find:
- Yellow jackets, living below ground and causing damage to the home’s foundation
- Bumblebees, which also build nests at ground level and can impact the home’s foundation
Did you find a bee or wasp nest nearby? The first step to removing the insects from your property before they can cause costly damage to your home is to contact a professional. It’s best to leave bee and wasp nest removal to an expert so they can be protected and humanely removed. In some areas of the U.S., bee activity is dropping and campaigns to help increase their numbers are in effect.
In addition to removing the insect nests, scheduling a professional home inspection to identify any problems they may have caused while living on your property — damage to the home’s foundation, wood paneling or other areas — is an important step.
Identifying Stinging Insects by Sight
When you’re running in the opposite direction, bees and wasps may all look the same, but they have distinguishable features to help you tell which is which. If you find a hive inside your home or on your property, here are a few ways to tell what exactly is living inside:
- Small holes inside wood structures and paneling: Look for carpenter bees, which are larger than honey bees and black in color.
- Hexagonal-shaped structure (honeycombs): Look for honeybees, identifiable by their small, fuzzy bodies and common black and yellow stripes build these structures.
- Underground nests or inside walls: Yellow jackets are also brightly striped, with smooth, long bodies, and they build homes underground or inside walls to stay safe, dry and warm.
- Groups of spheres near the ground, or underground: Bumblebees are round, fluffy and identifiable with yellow/black coloring. They reside in these types of structures.
- Open structures built inside attics, along tree limbs, or on gutters: Paper wasps are also long and slim, but they are black or dark brown in color and have large, easy to spot wingspans. Look for them inside and outside in these types of open hives.
If you do find bees or wasps living nearby, here’s what to expect from your new neighbors. While honeybees are generally not aggressive away from their hive, they can sting when provoked or to protect their home. However, they can only sting one time. More aggressive are yellow jackets, which can also sting predators (like us) more than once. Carpenter bees can cause major damage to wooden materials and homes, but they aren’t aggressive. The males of the species can’t sting at all and the females generally do not sting.
Protecting your home from bee and wasp damage
One of the least welcome neighbors for homeowners is the carpenter bee. That’s because the species drills holes inside building materials, especially wood, to lay their eggs. From wooden siding to major structural pieces of the home, including joints, these bees can cause costly home repairs if left unchecked. Their drilling can weaken the structure of the home, so any damages caused by carpenter bees should be inspected immediately by a professional and fixed promptly.
Another result of bees living nearby is attracting predators. I’m sure we can all imagine the allure of honey to bears and other animals living near us in Minnesota and North Dakota. While honeybees are great for our environment and important to the agricultural industry, if you’re not aware of honeycombs on your own property, you may be attracting unwanted guests.
Removing bees and wasps from homes
If you find bees and wasps inside your home and can’t identify where they’ve built a nest, a professional exterminator or home inspector can help. If you do find a hive or nest on your own, it’s best to contact a pest control specialist for help removing it carefully and humanly, before the insects cause lasting damage to your home.
From carpenter bees causing structural damage to a home to wasp nests built alongside a home’s foundation, in attics or along gutters and inside eaves, these pests aren’t great neighbors to have. If you think your home has been damaged, contact Innovative Basement Authority for a free home inspection and repair estimate. From structural damage to flooding from broken gutters and damaged foundations, let us help you identify problems caused by pests before major home repairs are needed.