Frequently Asked Help Questions (Click on question to open answer)
My child, elder or, I just got stung. What do I do?
Seek medical help immediately if: Breathing is difficult, Stung many times, Allergic to bee stings. Anaphylactic shock occurs relatively quickly and is the most sever allergic response. Quickly reaching medical help can save a life.
The majority of people experience a local reaction to a bee sting with some swelling around the sting site. The stinger should be removed and the site thoroughly cleaned like any other wound. Swelling and pain may be controlled with a cold compress like ice, but don't freeze your skin.
If it's any consolation, stinging is lethal to the bee. A bee stings to defend her colony against intruders or if she perceives her own life is in certain jeopardy (only female bees have stingers). An individual bee can sting only once in her life and dies shortly afterward. Note: A dead bee's stinger can sting you, and the force of your weight on the bee's body can result in venom injection. So, don't step on, sit on, or play with dead bees. Discard dead bees.
Bees are around my pool, water faucets... What do I do?
Like all living organisms, honey bees need water for hydration. This becomes especially evident during hot dry weather when natural sources dry up and bees begin to collect water from sources close to people and domestic animals. Bees also use water for evaporative cooling in the hive. Bees collect water and distribute droplets around the colony, then fan the air with their wings to create an air stream over drops, causing the water to evaporate and consequently lowering the nest temperature, like a swamp cooler. We all want to help bees survive but sometimes that's just not practical, especially when children are competing with bees for water. Bees wiil collect water where ever it can be found. It could be from a dirty puddle, a pond, a brook, your swimming pool, irrigation system, birdbath, dripping outdoor faucet...etc. When bees come in contact with people, and domestic animals that they become a pest and quite possibly a health hazard.
Tips on keeping bees away from pools: When you first notice bees around your pool, spray them with a soap-water solution. Soap-water solution: Mix 1 part dish soap to 4 parts water in spray bottle.
Spray all bees around your pool with this solution. The soap-water solution will kill the bees but doesn't leave a harmful residue like an insecticide. Spray every bee until no bees return for at least one day. This will kill those water foragers telling others in the colony where your swimming pool is located. Eventually you will kill all those bees foraging at your pool and prevent them from telling others about your pool. Other water foragers will find a different source of water, so don't worry. It's unlikely your pool is the only source of water within foraging distance. In reality you're only eliminating a very small proportion of the foraging population and an even smaller proportion of the total colony population.
Cover your pool when it's not in use.
Pet water and birdbaths: 1 part vinegar to 256 parts water (2 tablespoons vinegar to 1 gallon water).
DO NOT USE THE SOAP-WATER SOLUTION ABOVE IN BIRDBATHS & PET WATER!
Evaporative coolers: add a few ounces of pine-scented cleaner to the water.
DO NOT USE PINE-SCENTED CLEANER IN PET WATER OR BIRDBATHS!
Repair leaky faucets and faulty irrigation systems.
How do I keep bees away from my hummingbird feeder?
Bee guards prevent bees, with short tongues compared to hummingbirds, from being able to drink from your hummingbird feeder. Bee guards are usually available where hummingbird feeders and supplies are sold. Adding bee guards after bees have begun to forage will not immediately discourage bees. The most effective way is to begin using bee guards with the first use of the hummingbird feeder.
Hummingbird feeder fitted with bee guards.
Hummingbird drinking from a feeder with bee guards.
Do I need to test my bees to see if they're Africanized?
NO, if planning bee removal or extermination.
If planning to sell your bees or queens outside the state then testing will depend on the laws of the state to which you are exporting bees. Contact the Texas Apiary Inspection Service only if you are a beekeeper.
A colony is living in my house. What do I do?
Bees should never be allowed to build or remain in the walls or chimney of a structure. For one thing, they will become very defensive of their hive once they have young and stored honey. That means people and animals that happen by the hive could be stung by bees defending their home. But bees in walls also cause a problem with the building structure because of the massive amounts of honeycomb and honey that can be stored. Killing the bees from such a hive is extremely difficult to do without completely opening the wall. Also, all the wax combs must be removed or it will become rank and attract other pests. The best thing to do is to never allow bees to build in the walls, or remove as soon as detected. Regularly check your home and other structures on your property to ensure there are no holes that bees can enter (⅛" in diameter or greater). If you find that bees already are living in a wall, call a pest control operator or bee removal service immediately to have them removed. See Bee Proof Your Property for more information
Check your local yellow pages for a pest control operator (exterminator) or bee removal service (beekeeper) to have the colony professionally removed. If you have more than one choice, call several to compare services and prices. If there are none listed for your area contact us and we'll help you locate assistance.
Do Africanized and regular honey bees look different?
Both bees look the same because they are simply two varieties of the same species of honey bee. Honey bees come in a range of colors and many do not have distinctive banding. But these are not characteristics that may help you identify Africanized and regular honey bees. Although they look the same, Africanized bees are much more likely to sting if disturbed.
Highly defensive behavior is the major characteristic of Africanized honey bees.
Is this a honey bee, wasp, bumblebee, or what?
The honey bee (above) has a hairy body compared to the wasp (below). Pollen is the only source of protein for honey bees and their hairy bodies are an adaptation to pollen grain collection. Another major difference is that a honey bee is able to sting only one time and dies soon after. The honey bee stinger has small hooks that cause the stinger to remain imbedded in the victim. The sting apparatus is pulled from the bee's body when she moves away causing massive abdominal rupture and death. A wasp has a smooth stinger and may sting many times.
The bumblebee (below) also uses pollen as a source of protein and too has a very hairy body. She is different from the honey bee in having a more square-shaped body that is generally more hairy than the honey bee. Bumblebees come in many colors so the ones in your area may not look like the one shown here. Like the wasp the bumblebee is able to sting many times. The bees, ants and wasps belong to the order Hymenoptera and are distinguished from other orders such that they have two pairs of clear wings.
Sometimes a fly (below) is confused with a bee. Flies have only one pair of wings.
Is the honey bee an endangered or protected species?
Swarms and colonies living in the wild or on your property have an unknown health and behavior history. Many beekeepers refuse to collect these swarms and colonies because they do not want to risk introducing diseases, parasites, or highly defensive bees into their apiaries.