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Here's how to safely remove a beehive from your yard

No vacancy for stinging in your yard

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As the tulips break through the earth and the lilacs’ thick fragrance breezes through the air, spring flowers are arriving and that means the bees are, too. Crucial to our ecosystems, bees are responsible for pollinating the vegetation that we serve on the dinner table, but they can also be pests to you and your family.

If you notice an influx of bees around your home, you may have a beehive nearby. A beehive can pose a danger since bees attack when they feel threatened (and you don't want to wind up with a gnarly bee sting). Even worse, when a honey bee attacks, it leaves its stinger behind, which in turn, causes its death.

In order to avoid this unfortunate scenario, it's important that you know the proper protocol for removing a beehive in your yard.

To find out how to get rid of a beehive, we spoke with Josh Matta, a senior biologist at Spectracide. He's sharing his expert tips on how to safely remove a beehive from your property.

Bees vs. wasps: Which insect do you actually have?

Side-by-side shots of a bee and a wasp.
Credit: Getty Images / Ale-ks / Antagain / Reviewed

A closer look between a bee (left) and wasp (right) shows differences between the two.

Before you can get rid of a beehive, you need to be sure you actually have bees. Not all yellow and black striped bugs that buzz are the same. Determining what type of insects you’re dealing with is a crucial first step to removing them properly. Bees often get easily confused for wasps, but the two aren’t the same.

Bees are small and fuzzy with black and yellow stripes, and can survive throughout all four seasons. They are friends of the garden, responsible for keeping our food and ecosystems thriving.

Unlike fuzzy bees, wasps (and hornets) are hairless and smooth. There are many different types of wasps, but some have thin black and yellow stripes similar to that of a bee. Wasps eat other insects, particularly garden varieties, that can gobble up your harvest, but wasps are not pollinators. Unlike bees, most wasps, besides their queens, won’t survive the winter.

The lifespan of these insects will have an effect on how you’ll want to handle disposing of their nests or hives based on the protection they’ll need for the winter.

Is it a nest, swarm, or beehive?

Side-by-side comparison of a beehive and a wasp nest.
Credit: nayneung1 / ArchonCodex / Reviewed

Different measures must be taken to remedy a wasp's nest (left) or beehive (right).

If you've discovered a beehive or wasp nest in or near your home through a cluster of buzzing insects in one area but, it may be unclear if there is an actual nest or hive nearby.

Before you investigate the problem, Matta says to cover yourself up entirely with a long sleeve shirt, full-length pants, and closed-toed shoes. “Secure your hair and avoid loose-fitting clothes to reduce the likelihood that bees and wasps will get caught in your hair or clothes.”

Go slow and make as little noise as possible as you approach, but keep a safe distance of at least 10 feet to reduce your risk of getting stung.

As you get closer, you may see several different types of hives. If you see a paper-like, multi-layer nest, that means you’ve got wasps.

If you can’t see any visible nest but you’ve got bees piling up in one spot, then you’re dealing with a swarm cluster. These clusters occur when bees are traveling to relocate a hive and typically go away without additional help. (However, if the cluster is still there after several days, it’s time to call a professional.)

Established beehives look like a giant mound of bees, but you usually won’t find it out in the open. Hives are typically tucked away in the ground or cavern of a rotting tree, but they can pose a risk to people, including children, as well as pets, when found in high-traffic areas of your yard.

How to get rid of a beehive

Portrait of a beekeeper.
Credit: Getty Images / StefaNikolic

Let the experts handle it!

Because bees are a vulnerable species, you should avoid using chemicals or pesticides to remove them. Having the bees properly removed and relocated is the best way to get rid of a beehive, and you should leave this process to a professional.

Pros know how to move a nest or hive to a location that ensures the survival of the insects, while still removing them from your property. They have the proper equipment that protects them from getting stung while relocating a nest.

Matta recommends reaching out to a professional pest control company or local beekeeping expert. He also suggests checking with your state and/or county government officials for information of local apiary services.

How to treat a bee sting

A person's hand being stung by a bee.
Credit: Getty Images / Prompilove

Don't let the sting just sit there untreated!

No matter how safe you are while dealing with bees, stings can happen. For those with severe bee allergies, locating an EpiPen in a timely manner can be lifesaving.

Even if you’re not allergic, a sting can be painful. The CDC recommends washing the sting with soap and water and then carefully removing the stinger by squeezing the sting with gauze or scraping a fingernail over the area to get it out.

Apply some ice to keep swelling down, and to prevent infection and help with pain management, put Neosporin on the infected area.

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