I came home from Paris to a note from my friend Jules alerting us to a bee infestation in our downstairs bathroom wall. Hesitant, I opened the door to the bathroom, turned on the light and was met with corpses – on the rug, on the tile, in the shower. 13 bees had made it into the house through the fan and perished. As I swept up bee bodies, I sighed thinking “Ugh, I come home from Paris to this?”
And then “I’m just a little black rain cloud” popped into my head and I thought of how happy Winnie the Pooh would be to find a honeycomb in his house. Humming, I stuffed a towel under the bathroom door and went to sleep.
The next morning I scoped out the infestation in earnest. First, I listened to the hum of the bees inside the wall and then I saw this:
Now Jim is allergic to bees, and much as I love Winnie the Pooh, I am not him and leaving a bee hive in the walls is not my idea of a solid plan. So I checked out Angie’s list and called in a professional – Cascade Pest Control.
The next day Hugh came out and I learned quite a few interesting things about bees and their counterparts. First, after examining a corpse, Hugh informed me that I had yellow jacket wasps – not bees. On the one hand, wasps are much more aggressive and therefore, scary. On the other, they don’t make honey and no one gets upset if you kill them. In other words, no demo, no beekeeper required, thousands of dollars saved. Phew.
Second, that humming sound? That’s the wasps scratching up your drywall or plaster and using it to build their hive – unchecked they can completely rot out your wall leaving it paper-thin. Uh-oh. Fortunately, it looked like my unwelcome tenants hadn’t been moved in long enough to do noticeable damage.
Third, wasps are an easy kill. They die off naturally with the first freeze (except for the Queen who moves on to a new residence nearby), but if you don’t want to let them tear up your house in the interim, death is just a professional spray away and only a couple hundred dollars – guaranteed.
Prevention always foremost in my mind, I asked Hugh how I could stop another Queen from moving in. The answer is simple and yet, not. To keep them out of the walls, you need to seal up every crack and cranny they can crawl into. In our case, we had a 4 inch long and 1/2 inch wide gap between the shingles and the eaves and they just climbed on in. Slightly easier – constant vigilance. If you see more than one flying around, follow them and see if their just visiting or calling in their friends. If you see an opening, and see activity in or out of that opening you have a problem and need to take care of it before it damages your home.