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Integrated Pest Management Program

Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Department of Extension

Fact Sheets > Used in two program areas, only need one page

Bees and Wasps

Bees are beneficial insects that pollinate many fruit and garden plants. Pollination is necessary for the production of many of these crops. The most commonly seen bees are honey bees, bumble bees and carpenter bees. There are thousands of species of bees, most of which are smaller than the honey bee.

Wasps are also beneficial insects that attack and destroy many thousands of pest insects found around homes and in gardens. Examples of wasps include hornets, yellow jackets, paper wasps, mud daubers and cicada killers.

Stings. Most wasps and bees withdraw their stingers from victims after stinging. The stingers of honey bees, however, are barbed and remain in the flesh. If not removed, an embedded stinger will continue to pump venom into the wound for a few minutes. Do not pull the stinger out, as that may inject more venom. Scrape the stinger out with a fingernail.

When stung, immediately apply table salt or baking soda moistened to a paste-like consistency directly to the sting site and leave it in place for about 30 minutes. This will draw some of the venom out of the wound. Other methods include immediate application of moistened meat tenderizer (which breaks down the venom), or application of commercial preparations such as Sting Kill, Sting-Eze, etc. If the sting victim has a history of hay fever, asthma or other allergies, call a doctor immediately. Allergic reactions may sometimes be severe or even fatal.

Control. Bees generally do not cause damage to property or plants in and around homes, except for the carpenter bees and the European (giant) hornet.

Occasionally swarming honey bee colonies may get into wall voids or other structural areas of buildings and establish a flourishing hive. When this occurs, the safest and best approach is to remove the entire colony. For information on beekeepers in your area who remove bees, contact your local Cooperative Extension Center. Prompt removal is recommended before the colony grows and stores considerable amounts of honey. As a last resort, a professional pesticide applicator may be contacted.

In most cases, bees and wasps will not sting unless they or their nests are threatened. Try to avoid bees and wasps whenever possible rather than trying to kill them. Nests should be destroyed only if they are dangerously close to building entrances, in shrubs, lawns or other areas where they pose a threat to humans from accidental disturbance.

Yellow jackets, hornets and paper wasps do not reuse their nests the following year. Only the queens will survive after the first hard frosts during the fall. This may help you decide if you want to risk being stung during a control operation, especially if the nest is in a rarely visited portion of the property.

When control is needed, any of the commercially available wasp and hornet aerosol sprays may be applied directly into the entrance of the nest. Treatments should be applied at dusk or later on cool nights when all the wasps are in the nest. At such times, the wasps will be sluggish and there is much less danger of being stung. Wasps become inactive at about 50oF, so cool nights or early mornings are the best times to remove or spray colonies. Commercially available complete-release aerosol insect bombs may be needed in attics if nests cannot easily be reached. Fine-mesh screening should be installed or repaired in attic grates or vents, and other smaller openings should be caulked or sealed to exclude wasps from entering.

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Prepared by: Richard Packauskas, Entomologist, and Roger G. Adams, Integrated Pest Management Program Leader. July 1990.

Updated by: Mary Concklin, IPM, University of Connecticut. 2011

The information in this document is for educational purposes only.  The recommendations contained are based on the best available knowledge at the time of publication.  Any reference to commercial products, trade or brand names is for information only, and no endorsement or approval is intended. The Cooperative Extension System does not guarantee or warrant the standard of any product referenced or imply approval of the product to the exclusion of others which also may be available.  The University of Connecticut, Cooperative Extension System, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is an equal opportunity program provider and employer.