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How to Keep Honey Bees from Nesting in your Home

By Derek Roach

Mid-March until the beginning of July is considered to be the typical bee-swarming season in the United States. During this season, honey bees begin to collect pollen to feed on and to store for the upcoming winter season.

At this point, the population of the hive is abundant due to the queen bee ensuring a large enough workforce to sustain the colony. Consequently, the beehive can become overcrowded, causing the group to split into two separate colonies. This action puts many homeowners at risk of obtaining unwanted beehives on their properties.

The departing group of bees will be on the hunt for a suitable area to nest — which can sometimes be a home. Structures, buildings, and other objects that provide shelter on a property can become new homes for bee colonies.

Understanding the Swarming Process

When the bee colony splits, a new queen will stay with the existing hive and the older queen will take a portion of the female worker bees and a few male drones as they search for a new home. This newly assembled group is known as a swarm.

The swarm will leave the existing hive and cluster on a tree limb, shrub, or other object while a few select bees, known as scouts, search the surrounding area for an ideal nesting location. While a swarm is on your property, your home is in jeopardy. The group of bees will either temporarily rest and move on, or they’ll find an accommodating spot and declare your property as their permanent nesting location.

After the scout bees have examined the surrounding area, they will report their findings to the swarm. To communicate the distance and direction of the possible new home, the scout bees will do a “dance” known as the waggle dance.

Protecting your Home from Unwanted Beehives

Bees can enter any structure or object that contains a hole that is a quarter of an inch or larger. A common bee-prevention technique is to seal all potential bee entries with durable materials, like metal screen and caulk. However, once a swarm is on your property, you may not have sufficient time to identify and seal all of the potential entry points for the bees.

An effective substitute is to apply treatment to the scout bees lingering around your home. This will prevent the scout bees from informing the swarm of the potential nesting spot. As a result, the swarm moves on to another location. However, the trick is to take action quickly as bees can move in suddenly.

Reducing outdoor clutter can also prevent bees from nesting in your yard. Unused appliances or lawn equipment found in yards can attract honey bees since they provide sufficient shelter for a hive to thrive.

Also, if your home has previously had problems with honey bees, make sure the honeycomb is removed. The pheromone scents left on honeycomb can attract newcomers. Usually the honeycomb will be situated in an inaccessible area (wall voids, eaves, etc.), so removing portions of your roof or siding may be necessary.

The Truth about Africanized “Killer” Bees

Africanized honey bee (AHB) colonies have been identified in 11 different states. The most recent discovery of this type of bee was in Colorado. European honey bees are the most common type of bee in the United States, but Africanized territories are still being confirmed in new areas. Usually, only an isolated colony is found in the newer regions.

The first known Africanized colony to enter the U.S. was in Hidalgo, Texas on October 1990. These bees were part of a cross-breeding program used to create a hybrid bee that was better suited for survival in the Tropics. This bee was able to defend its hive better and swarmed more often, which helped with pollination.

An AHB is virtually indistinguishable from European honey bees and only differs in behavior. AHBs are more prone to aggressively attack, and while the potency of venom in both bees is the same, the Africanized bees will attack in large numbers when in distress. While these bees can be more aggressive, attacks on humans are rare. However, treat every beehive you encounter as an Africanized colony to protect yourself from being stung.

This graphic shows a map of Africanized territories in the U.S., and a comparison of behavioral differences between Africanized and European honey bees.

Why did Honey Bees Choose my Home?

While suitable shelter and previous bee problems can be the primary cause for a beehive on your property, it can be difficult to determine the exact attractant. Other reasons can include favorable microclimates or abundant vegetation, since bees prefer to be within close proximity of a food source.

A bee problem can be caused by one of these factors, a combination of them, or none of the above.

A recent analysis of bee removal inquires in southern California was conducted to identify which areas were most susceptible to bee problems. Coastal towns that generally have temperate climates (weather related) and cities within close proximity to rural areas and farmlands (vegetation selection) appear to be more prone to having honey bee colonies that need to be removed.

Where bees choose to live is generally out of your control. However, you can assume that if bees have been to your home before, then your home is more prone to a future unwanted honey bee colony, so be sure to take preventative measures to keep bee problems from returning.


Derek Roach

Derek Roach is a copywriter for Pro Pacific Bee Removal, a company that specializes in bee removal services for residents and businesses in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange County, California. He has a BS in business administration from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and has been published in local and international publications, including Food & Drink Magazine.


  1. A nice and interesting article!
    Can some certain colors attract honey bees to form beehive? What colors do you recommend to keep bees from nesting?

    • Fragrance can attract bees more than color. But bright colors, which resemble flowers, can lure in bees as well. Not all studies agree on how each color is perceived by bees except red being seen as black. Blue and yellow tend to be the most popular color among bees. However, just because a certain color is present doesn’t make it more vulnerable to nests – there is no guaranteed color to prevent bees. Other factors, like the ones mentioned above, also come into play.

  2. Im starting my bee project, which should I take, and where could I get the lesson on beekeeping. I have 114 hectres of land. Im in Zimbabwe

  3. I have four or five bees hovering all day under a canopy on my deck .. Does this mean anything .? If so what can I do ?

  4. Very informative article, we’ve dealt with bee’s once before and now are dealing with them again, our home has log’s coming through side of front of home, SAW style and has Carpenter bee’s constantly, I am thinking about removing the log pillars as there are eight in all, four in front and four on back side. I’m curious what’s your ideas on dealing with all this bee problems, we use soapy water and so far it’s worked for the honey bee’s, just not sure how to deal with the carpenter bee’s. Any advice appreciated.

  5. my neighbor is a bee keeper however their bees swarm my koi pond and drink the water…. its impossible to sit out on my patio…. do you have any suggestions on how to get rid of them

  6. No help at all as I have had 4 bee infestations in the last 10 years amounting to over $2000 in removal costs. They always pick a different place despite vigilance on my part. On vacation for 10 days and returned to find two hives in a storage bench at the property edge. At least this time, the bees did not move into a house wall or under roof tiles.
    I’m looking for a spray, plants, etc. that encourage the bees to bypass my home not just caulking and resealing the same spots over and over again. That’s been done with very limited success.

  7. I have been noticing a lot of bees around my home, and I really want to know how I can make sure that none of these bees start colonizing in my home. That is a good idea to apply a treatment to scout bees around my home. I will have to see if I can get someone to come help me do that. I would love to make sure they don’t get inside my home.

  8. As a beekeeper who also does bee removals I can fill in a few gaps.

    The main thing you can do is to get a competent handyman to make sure there are no gaps in your siding, trim, etc. Caulking those holes will prevent scouts from finding a satisfactory cavity inside your home. Honey bees will only choose a nesting site that contains a cavity sufficient for them to build comb for the colony to grow. The scouts actually measure the cavity (40 liters is ideal) to establish the value of the potential site. There can be hundreds of scouts looking for the best location and evaluating it. For this reason, many people mistake scouting activity for activity after the colony has moved in. Indeed, an experienced beekeeper can tell you whether the colony has moved in yet, or if you’re seeing activity hours before the bees move in. If you believe that they are still scouting, discouraging them with a garden hose can sometimes be effective in getting them to move somewhere else. If you can find a beekeeper who can quickly bring over what we call a bait hive, an empty box which satisfies what they require, you can get the bees to move into that instead, but time is of the essence. If they have already moved in you are wasting your time. If you see a thick cloud of bees congeal on the spot and slowly disappear, you’ve watched a colony move in. (SEE VIDEO LINK, below)

    Honey bees are highly social animals and live in colonies that can number in the tens of thousands individuals. They swarm as a means of colony reproduction, IOW, one colony splits into two colonies (or more). It’s the only way this “superorganism” known as a hive, reproduces. On the bright side, they are NOT interested in getting into your living space (although some may, accidentally). Many people coexist with 100,000 honey bees living within their walls for years. A number have called me and acknowledged that the bees have been living there for 5 years, but now they want to sell their home and it reduces the curb appeal, so, time to give them a new home.

    Don’t confuse honey bees with most of the 416 other species of bees living in my State, New York, and about 3500 species living in the US, who are not social.
    Carpenter bees, for example, are NOT social, but “solitary.” One queen chews a perfect round hole in your home’s trim or deck and raises a family of maybe 5 to 10 individuals. You will usually see more than one carpenter bee establishing homes near each other, indicating that they found a favorable environment. Also, don’t confuse them with wasps. The general rule is, If you can see the nest, it’s not a bee hive, but a wasp nest.
    Bumble bees are social, but usually nest in a cavity in or near the ground. I occasionally see bumble bees nesting in peoples homes, but as they don’t swarm, their colony is much smaller with, perhaps a few hundred bees at most at peak, and they don’t nest through the winter (as honey bees do), it’s a much different situation.

    …I could go on….

    Bee well,
    (and remember that bees don’t get anything out of stinging you and won’t do so unless you threaten them or get too close to the colony.
    – See my videos on Youtube: )

    Carl the Beekeeper

  9. I appreciate the information you shared on how you can keep bees from making your home their home. There is a beehive that is on the side of my roof that needs to be removed, but I don’t want to kill them. It seems like it would be a good idea for me to hire a professional that relocate them for me so that they don’t get hurt.

  10. Thanks for explaining that if you have had a bee problem before it is best to get the honeycomb removed from your property. Before I moved into my current house they told us that there was a bee problem. I’ll make sure the honeycomb is gone but if it is not then I’ll hire a pest control service to come move it for me.

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