Growing up, my brother and I had bedrooms right next to each other separated by a thin wall. Unfortunately for him, right above his head in the ceiling, a family of wasps decided to move right in as well! If you’re here, you’re probably wondering what you should do if you find bees and wasps in your house.
While bees and wasps aren’t always a threat, they are not welcome in most homes and are seen as invaders and pests. When you come into contact with one, especially in your home, you should use the ACE Guidelines: remain calm, alert others, cover your face, exit immediately, and assess for stings.
This article will help you understand what to do if you are face to face with bees and wasps in your house and how to rid yourself of them for good!
How To Know If There’s Bees Or Wasps In Your House
Bees and wasps are commonly mistaken for each other when they are flying around because people don’t get a good look at them. However, they have many distinct differences, according to Texas A&M.
For starters, bees are usually a little bit more “chubby” in appearance than wasps. A wasp is known for its waist. A wasp is tapered in the middle, almost like it is wearing a little, tiny corset. Bees of all sorts don’t have this feature. Honey bees, Africanized bees, and bumblebees are all round in appearance.
Bees are a lot fuzzier when compared to a wasp. A wasp might have a few hairs over its entire body, but it has a very sleek appearance. Bees of all walks of life are fuzzy and covered in little hairs so that they can do their primary job, which is to pollinate.
Wasps can be categorized from a bunch of different types of insects. A paper wasp, a yellow jacket, and a hornet are all called “wasps”. Wasps have a much more aggressive temperament than bees do. Bees are also seen as more important in the world than wasps since they are the main pollinators and they help bring in large amounts of money each year agriculturally.
However, some wasps can actually make honey.
Lastly, bees have hives and wasps have nests. There are combs in a hive and they are usually much quieter than wasps nests. Wasps fight for space in their hive, so there is usually a lot more aggressive buzzing than in a hive where everyone has a job and they work in harmony.
You can learn more about their difference in our full article about bee and wasp differences here.
What To Do If You See a Bee or Wasp In Your House
Now on to the main event! We now know their differences, but what do we do when we encounter one?
1. Remain Calm
When you see any sort of pest in your house, the first thing you need to do is prepare yourself and remain calm. You are going to need to do a few steps after the initial confrontation, so by collecting your fears and emotions and staying calm you have a much better chance of not getting stung.
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2. Alert the Others in the house
This is the beginning of the ACE method. If you see a bee or a wasp in your home, the first thing you should do after you’ve established a calm demeanor is let anyone nearby or in the home that you see bees or wasps.
A simple “Hey, there’s some bees in here” is good enough. There is no reason to start shouting and screaming! Just a simple, clear message to let others know there is a possible threat nearby and to stop them from coming into it themselves.
3. Cover Your Head and Face
You should use your arms and hands to cover your head. More specifically, you should use your arms and hands to block your face and head but you need to keep your eyes clear so that you can see to do the rest of the steps.
This, again, doesn’t need to be dramatic. You can just raise your arms, bend them at the elbow and cover your ears with them with your hands end up on your shoulders and your elbows near the top of your head. This keeps your line of sight open and clear and you are also able to shield your face if you need to.
If you feel there is not a threat to you getting stung, such as you are far away, you can skip this step but I do recommend at least raising your arms just in case. A lot of times, bees and wasps won’t go out of their way to sting if they don’t have to but if they feel threatened, you will want to have protection over your face.
Better safe than sorry, right?
4. Exit Immediately
After you have raised your arms to protect your face, your next action should be to get out of the area the bees and wasps are in. Back up, so you stay facing the direction the bees are and back out of the nearest exit. If possible, close that exit behind you! You don’t want the bees to follow you or your effort will be in vain!
If you can close the door, do it. If there is a crack under the door, maybe throw a towel to cover it. This will prevent the bees or wasps from coming out from under the door crack and invading other parts of the house and it will give you peace of mind knowing you know where they are.
5. Assess For stings
While you might think you would notice a bee or wasp sting right away, sometimes at the moment when you are nervous or worried and the adrenaline is high, you don’t notice that little pinprick feeling of a bee sting.
The reason it is important to assess possible injury is that bee stings are something that a lot of people are allergic to, and if you’ve never been stung and you don’t know if you’re allergic, it is very important to know if you’ve been stung.
Check your exposed areas for stingers or any marks where you may have been stung. If you don’t see any, you are good to go. If you do, make sure you monitor the situation carefully over the next hour and take proper action if the situation escalates.
If you must go back into the room, make sure you have an escape plan and wear protective clothing. According to the University of Florida, this includes things like:
- Full coverage clothing
- A veil of some sort
- Suit (only if you have one, of course!)
6. Call An Exterminator
Next, you’re most likely going to want to call a professional to handle the issue IF you have an actual wasp next or beehive in your home.
In the case of us having a wasp nest in my brothers room growing up, we had to keep him out of there until the exterminator could show up, actually cut out the drywall, and remove the wasp next.
If you’d like, you can contact our nationwide partner network of exterminators here to find an exterminator near you.
What NOT To Do If You See a Wasp or Bee In Your Home
1. Do Not Run or Hide
While you might see people hiding from bees and wasps in movies, this should not be the case in real life! Bees and wasps are highly receptive to movement and can and will follow you if you run from them.
You should not run from bees or wasps because for one, it might make them see you as a threat. You are making quick, crazy movements around them so you must be a threat, right? When you see bees or wasps, make slow and deliberate movements.
All those famous, funny clips of people running into the water to avoid an angry swarm of bees and wasps? They’re not real. Bees and wasps, if angry enough, will sit at the water’s edge and wait for you to come out, and obviously, you can’t stay in the water forever.
2. Do Not Play Dead
You need to evacuate the area if you are in the immediate presence of wasps or bees in a confined space just so that they don’t take you as a threat to their wellbeing. Unlike some animals, playing dead will not get you very far with bees or wasps.
By playing dead, you are essentially just staying in their space and causing them to become more and more worried about the fact that you are, in fact, still in their space. Again, just vacate the area and things will be okay.
3. Do Not Stand Still and Swat
The only time you should be lifting your arms around bees and wasps is to cover your face, slowly and deliberately, before you exit the room. If you start swatting, you are becoming a threat to them right then and there.
Standing still is also a no-go, but we’ve already discussed this. Just make your way to the nearest exit slowly and leave the room. Don’t spend any more time with the bees and wasps than you have to.
Warning Signs That Bees and Wasps Are In Your Home
The Miami Fire Department gives some great insight on what to look for if you think you might have a bee or wasp problem on your hands. First off, you can look for a nest or hive.
There are many places where these can be found, especially considering that bees and wasps (depending on the variety) can make homes in trees, in the ground, etc. Ideally, in the wild, bees and wasps would like to make their homes off tree branches and in holes in the ground or tree trunks. Bees and wasps can also get into hummingbird feeders!
However, when it comes to industrialized and residential areas, bees and wasps are likely to take to places like grills, unused buckets, fences, boxes, cars that are hardly used or never used, in walls, sheds, lumber piles, really just anywhere that has a good enough structure for them to make a nest or hive.
You might also hear an increase of buzzing, especially if it is near spring when bees and wasps are swarming. You could see a swarm, too. A swarm is a large group of wasps or bees, usually, they look like a black blob and they have a very loud, distinct buzzing sound.
To learn more, check out our popular article, Reasons Why You Keep Getting Bees And Wasps In Your House.
Getting Rid Of Bees and Wasps Around the Home
When face to face with a bee or wasp, you almost immediately want to get rid of them from the home just because they cause a risk. We know that honey bees are incredibly important and they are protected, so please take mind to that when you are thinking of removal methods.
When removing honey bees, it is best to call a professional for help to help keep you and the bees out of harm’s way. However, when dealing with wasps it is also very important to call a professional if you feel unsafe because they can be very dangerous to handle on your own.
There are 3 main methods of bee and wasp removal and they are sprays, dusts, and smoke.
Sprays come in aerosol cans and are very easily used at great distances making them the safest option because you can be far away from the hive or nest when you are using them. The University of New Hampshire recommends spraying them at night when they are more dormant and keeping your distance from them after the nest falls.
If the nest doesn’t fall on its own, you will have to make sure you go out and knock it down. After you knock down the nest, you need to spray it again to ensure it is coated. Then, discard it. Keep an eye out for the next few days to make sure no more movement happens.
It is recommended to also have a backup can of spray on your person while removing the nest just in case your first can jams or for some reason, it isn’t enough. You should also have more than one person there at a time to ensure safety.
Raid Wasp and Hornet Killer is a great option that I have personally used at my own home. This 3 pack is great because it will last you the entire summer or you can even give some to your neighbors if they are having issues with it as well. There’s enough to go around!
If you’d like to learn more about the mechanics of wasp sprays, take a look at our article on how wasp spray works here!
Dusts can be tricky because you need to get close to the nest to use them. Usually, they come with a bottle that you can sort of spray the dust in the general direction of your target, but they are not nearly as accurate or go nearly as far as the aerosol spray cans do. Michigan State University also recommends using this at night for your safety.
Most of the time, dust is geared more towards ground nests because it’s hard to spray the dust up into a tree or on a ledge. Delta Dust Multi Use Pest Control Insecticide Dust, can be a great option to use as it has a spout to spray in the general direction of the ground nest and it’s a big container of it for a good price.
Smoking out bees or wasps is more of a professional task, but sometimes it can be done as easily as having a bonfire and hoping the smoke goes in the direction of the hives. My grandma used to take a stick and light it on fire and walk near the hives and nests when we were younger in an attempt to smoke them out! Go grams!
Black Flag 190095 Propane Insect Fogger, is a more modernized version of what I think of when I think of smoking bees and wasps, which is that large accordion-type contraption from old movies. This one is electric and handheld, much more simple.
Again, I recommend that you work with a professional before smoking out bees or wasps.
Specifically for wasps, specific scents can keep them away long-term.
The following scents can help keep bees and wasps away:
- Peppermint oil
- Clove oil
- Geranium oil
There’s a few more in addition to those. You can check out our full guide on the scents that wasps hate and how to use them here!
That’s A Wrap!
Overall, bees and wasps can be scary to have in your home. But by remembering to stay calm and using the ACE method, then checking yourself for injuries, you will be able to then move on to removing the bees and wasps from your home for good.
Bees and wasps are not always a threat, but when they pose a threat we must know our resources on how to live bee or wasp-free life in our homes.
I hope this article gives you some insight on how to help yourself if you are ever in this situation and that you stay bee/ wasp sting free!
If you have bees and wasps in or near your car, check out our guide on keeping
Kessell, A. (1952). Evicting bees from houses. Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Series 3, 1(5), 100-103.
Michener, C. D. (2000). The bees of the world (Vol. 1). JHU press.
Reeve, H. K., & Nonacs, P. (1992). Social contracts in wasp societies. Nature, 359(6398), 823-825.
Toft, R. J., & Harris, R. J. (2004). Can trapping control Asian paper wasp (Polistes chinensis antennalis) populations?. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 279-282.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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