Every spring homes around the country find themselves battling a bee’s nest. Bee removal is a valuable service that I wish more pest control companies would engage in. Is it legal to exterminate bees? Pest management professionals are frequently unwilling or lack the proper equipment and knowledge to do bee removal. So bee hive removal often goes to folks in the beekeeping business who may or may not be licensed to do pest control.
Many pest control salesmen have told potential customer they couldn’t remove bees, because bees are protected. This story certainly sounds credible because bees are beneficial. In addition, the media has pursued a story about bee protection. This is an imminent collapse of honey bee populations due to a condition known as “colony collapse disorder” (CCD). The truth is that bees are neither tottering on the brink of destruction, nor are they protected by law.
LEGALITY OF BEE EXTERMINATION
So is it legal to exterminate bees? There is currently no state or federal law stating that pest management professionals cannot kill bees that pose a threat. Most pesticide labels do prohibit treating blooming flowers when bees are foraging. These warnings are designed to protect wild or domesticated bees from colonies that do not pose any kind of threat to health or property. Indeed these warnings help protect commercial beekeepers from losing bees and honey due to pesticide contamination.
Nevertheless, when bees enter a home to build their nest, it poses a stinging threat to the family, pets and neighbors. It can also eventually create additional household pest and odor problems. Old bee nests attract mice, cockroaches, dermestid beetle larvae, ants and moths to the wall of the home where the old comb lies rotting. Furthermore, all social wasps and bees defend their nests. And nowhere in the southern United States is immune to the threat of aggressive Africanized bees. Even the supposedly docile European honey bee also has quite a temper when conditions are right.
Using the definition of a pest as any organism where it’s not wanted, honey bees can certainly be pests. And exterminators can certainly kill or remove honey bee nests anywhere they are not wanted.
But what about the demise of the wild honey bee? If we kill them won’t that hasten their almost certain extinction? No. In fact, wild honey bee populations are, by all appearances, quite virile, in most locations.
It’s still unclear what is causing these declines in honey bees in the U.S. and abroad. There are numerous viable theories including new viral diseases, parasitic mites, stress from their high-maintenance lifestyles, and agricultural pesticides. But most honey bees appear to be in no immediate danger.
THE ETHICS OF BEES
As far as the ethical question about whether exterminators should kill bees or not, in my opinion this is more of a personal preference. No one answer seems to be right for everyone. As with anything, the decision involves trade offs: the benefits of reducing risks from stings and possible serious injury versus the decision to kill what is usually considered a beneficial insect. The economic cost of having to remove bee nests from walls, floors and ceilings of homes, versus the decision to destroy a swarm of bees sitting in the tree outside the window.
But why even talk about killing bees when they can often be removed alive? Live bee removal can be, and is, done by some companies, but not everyone has the expertise or the extra time to devote to live bee recovery and restoration. Simply, you can take them alive, but it will usually cost you more. Again, this becomes a personal decision on the part of the homeowner and the business owner.
Ultimately, the relatively few bee colonies that are exterminated from the walls and backyards of homes are not going to have much impact on the big picture of bee survival. So if you are having an issue with bees and wasps in or around your home, call TermMax Pest Control. We are here to help!