APCA Members are required to possess TAFE or APCA Pest Control Certificate and extensive field work experience in the pest control service industry

Australian Pest Control Association
APCA Pest Control Certificate course details

Week 3 - Day 14 - Bees & Wasps


Urban Pest Management in Australia: 2004 Edition, UNSW Press, Sydney

by J Gerozisis and P Hadlington - Chapter 6 - Pages 51 to 52.

Chapter 6 – Types of Insects - order hymenoptera - ants, bees and wasps - appearance - biology and habits - pest status

Pest status:

In Australia there is really only one. Species of bee, which poses a threat to man and that, is the introduced honeybee, Apis melliferaLike other introduced animals, large numbers of these can now be found living in the wild where it nests mostly in hollow trees, caves and old buildings.

Native Bees

There are over 2000 species of bees native to Australia of which hundreds occur in Australia.

Sizes range from 2mm to 25mm.
Large variation in colour.
Some are hairy and others are bare.

Hairy bees carry pollen in special hairs on the hind legs.
Hairless bees swallow the pollen mixed with nectar.

Most native bees are solitary.  Each female constructs its own nest.  Some nest in the ground, others in cavities.

Most females have a sting but none are aggressive.
Males play no part in nest construction but only search for and fertilise the female.


Honeybees often break away from the commercial   hives and establish themselves in areas, which cause danger and concern to man.

Treatment may be required where bees cannot be
removed in places such as cavity walls.

Few chemicals are registered for control of bees.

Care must be taken when destroying a hive.  Bees may become aggressive and attack passers by and the operator.

European wasp and English wasp

The hymenopteran insects known as wasps can also pose quite a severe threat to the safety of humans and animals.  Many species are capable of inflicting severe stings but two species which have gained prominence in some parts of Australia are the European wasp (Vespula germanica) and the English wasp (Vespula vulgaris). Both of these species have been introduced from overseas.  The European wasp can now be found in Tasmania, Victoria, Sydney and some country areas of N.S.W. The English wasp can be found in Victoria.

The workers of both species are about the same size as bees but have conspicuous lemon-yellow banded markings on a black body.  The colourless wings are folded longitudinally when at rest.

They construct rounded community nests, normally oval in shape, usually about 1 metre in length but, here in Australia, where colonies may live over winter, the nests may be 3 to 4 metres high and contain up to 100,000 individuals. They are predatory social insects and often act as scavengers in urban areas.  They tend to nest around human habitation where there are greater opportunities for finding food.  This food may include fruits, confectionery, cakes or soft drinks.  European wasps also destroy honeybees. In spring and summer, the wasps are very aggressive and will swarm to attack anybody whom they consider a threat to the nest.  The sting is more painful than that of a bee and each wasp may sting the victim many times.

Materials required for removal
The following materials will usually be needed to remove honey bee colonies from buildings.

Bee working supplies

Bee suit
Wire and/or string
Buckets with covers for honey comb and scrap comb
 Paint brush
Dust pan
Water for drinking and cleanup

Tools for structural work

Hammer and nails
Crow bar
 Saw (skill + cord, hand, chain + fuel)
Tin foil for sealing holes
Scaffold material for hive suspension
 Staple gun

Safe Removal of Bees
Removing honey bee nests from cavities (walls of houses, hollow trees) is a time-consuming, labour-intensive practice that should be undertaken by professionals. Continuous honey bee flight activity to and from a hole in a building is an indication of a nest. Many times, this can be confirmed by listening for bees buzzing inside.
An experienced beekeeper usually can remove bees and combs from easily accessible places like hollow trees, but often bees live in building walls or are tucked away where they are impossible to reach.
Simply killing bees in a cavity with an insecticide can have serious consequences:

    • Dead bees and dead brood will decay and produce strong odours.
    • Stored honey can absorb moisture and ferment or overheat without adult bees to tend it. This results in burst cappings, producing leaking honey from combs which can penetrate ceilings or walls, causing stains, sticky puddles around doors and windows, and softening of gyprock walls.
    • The quickest way to remove bees from buildings is to kill them and remove all traces of the nest. In most cases an inner wall or ceiling must be removed, however, calling for the services of a building contractor. It is essential to remove all honeycombs and to plug all holes to be certain there is no way for bees to re-enter the area. Any remaining bits of bees wax emit highly attractive odours to swarming bees.
      There are a number of ways to kill bees. It is important to exterminate a colony when all bees are on the nest (dusk or dawn). This reduces the number that might be in the field and return to cause problems. Many persons use commercially available wasp and hornet spray for killing the bees. This knocks down the insects quickly and can be used from a distance. Dust formulations of labelled pesticides may also be pumped onto an enclosed nest. There is more and more evidence that soapy water is also a very good material to use that is inexpensive and relatively environmentally benign. How the bees are killed will depend on the particular situation. A slower method of honeybee removal, which kills fewer of the insects, can be used in certain situations. It is based on the principle that bees that leave a building can be prevented from re-entering. However, the bees will cluster in a large mass around their previous exit where they are encouraged to enter another colony. Experienced beekeepers do the job best; they are used to bees flying around and to being stung occasionally. The following steps are recommended:
        • Fold a piece of window screen to make a cone wide enough at the bottom to completely cover the bees' entrance to the building. This cone is then reduced to about 3/8 inch in diameter. Bend the cone's smaller opening upward.
        • Plug all other holes where bees may enter the building. This is the key to any removal process. All other bee exits must be sealed!
        • Protect yourself with at least a bee veil and long sleeves (bee gloves are optional) and use a smoker to confuse the bees. Fasten the large end of the screen cone tightly over the entrance.
        • Position the one-story hive as near the cone entrance as possible. It can be positioned on brackets nailed to the building. Place the frames with brood and honey in the centre of the hive; place frames of drawn comb or foundation at the sides. The hive entrance should be reduced to about a 1-inch opening to protect the colony from being robbed by stronger colonies that may be in the area. Bees emerging from the screen cone will not be able to find their way back into the building. Instead, they enter the hive. As bees leave the building and move into the hive, the old colony will grow weak.
        • About 4 weeks later, remove the cone. Bees from the new hive will now be able to enter the building (their previous nest) and transfer the honey to the new hive. The queen in the building is lost along with a few other bees and perhaps some brood. However, with all the honey removed, there is little possibility of major odour or honey leakage problems. After the bees have moved completely and the honey has been transferred, close all hoses and cracks to prevent bees from re-entering.

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