Bees are an intimidating yet necessary force of nature. Despite packing a painful sting, these small flying insects pollinate flowers and help ensure a continued food supply. Although they are highly beneficial, bees can be an annoyance in some situations and a danger to some people. For those reasons, it can be problematic to have bees nesting in one's gazebo or garden. To enjoy time spent outdoors, it's important to know what to do about the threat that nesting bees represent.
Bees often have different nesting behaviors depending on the type of bee. The female carpenter bee, for example, is a solitary bee that nests by tunneling itself into wood to create a round hole. This type of bee can be particularly troublesome to gazebo owners, as it can damage the structure's wood. Ground bees such as bumblebees dig holes into the dirt, where they nest underground. These holes are easy to spot and are often in areas that are cleared of vegetation.
Honeybees are social bees. Their nest consists of a colony of thousands of bees. It is typically in an area that is not overly busy, such as a rock crevice or a hollow in a tree. There is generally just one entrance to the nest, which also serves as its exit, and there are also wax combs that help provide support. Honeybees have also been known to build their nests in or near buildings or structures such as gazebos.
To prevent destructive carpenter bees from tunneling into the wood of a gazebo, coat the untreated or unfinished wood with oil-based paint or polyurethane. To deter honeybees from nesting in a gazebo, a screen may be placed around it to prevent them from entering. It's also important to eliminate the things that attract them. Because honeybees are attracted to sweet things, people should always thoroughly clean up any spilled sugary drink, such as soda or lemonade. Sweet food sources, which include rotten or overripe fruits, can also attract bees to gardens, where they may be encouraged to nest. Pick up and remove any damaged or rotten fruit from the garden and dispose of it regularly to eliminate this problem.
What to Do if You Do Find a Hive
The discovery of a hive can be alarming for many, as can the sight of a swarm of bees. Upon finding a hive in their gazebo or elsewhere on their property, people should not attempt to approach, touch, or try to move it. A swarm consists of thousands of bees that are in the process of building a new hive. As they are beginning their new colony, they often gather together in an oblong or football-shaped cluster. These also should not be disturbed in any way. Instead, anyone who has discovered either of these should move quickly away and immediately contact an area beekeeper. Professional beekeepers can potentially relocate the hive to a location that is safer for both the bees and the humans who found them.
What to Do if You Get Stung
When a person is stung by a bee, the first thing that they should do is flee and seek shelter. While retreating, one should cover and protect their face and neck from stings. After reaching the shelter of a building or car, remove any embedded stingers from the skin. To do this without releasing further venom, simply scrape the stinger off using your fingernails or the side of a credit card. After removing all of the stingers, cleanse the area to prevent infection. Most often, the swelling associated with a bee sting will resolve itself within a few hours. People who have multiple stings or are allergic to them will need immediate medical attention. A severe reaction to a sting may include difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, a swollen throat and tongue, dizziness, or a loss of consciousness. Call 911 immediately should one or more of these symptoms present themselves.