How to Deal With Bees and Other Stinging Insects

Honeybees: What They Do

Docile honeybees are essential pollinators in gardens. They nest in protected areas, like tree cavities, or within attics or walls. If aggravated, they’ll sting just once; their barbed stingers rip off, killing them. (Their fatter, fuzzier bumblebee cousins can repeatedly inflict a painful sting.)

Reduce Your Risk

Prevent your home from becoming a honeybee hangout by sealing openings where pipes or wires enter, as well as gaps in your siding. If you spot a swarm, call a local beekeeper to wrangle it.

Carpenter Bees: What They Do

Known for their ability to bore perfectly round holes into wood, they’re often found in eaves and beneath decks. As females build the nest, males flit about looking menacing, but, surprisingly, they can’t sting. And while females can, they rarely do.

Reduce Your Risk

Carpenter bees prefer untreated wood, so paint, stain, or seal exterior wood surfaces. If you discover an infestation—often indicated by a sprinkling of sawdust on or near your house—call an exterminator.

Yellow Jackets: What They Do

These territorial, aggressive predators feed on caterpillars, spiders, and even other bees, plus sugary carbs, which is why you see them around trash cans and backyard barbecues. They tend to build nests in small crevices in the ground.

Reduce Your Risk

Beware: Even just walking near their nests may provoke an attack, and the sound or vibrations from a lawn mower really set them off. Survey your yard for yellow jackets carefully, and hire a pro if you find a hive.

Hornets: What They Do

Like yellow jackets, hornets are in the wasp family and survive on other insects and food scraps. Their large papery nests are often found in trees and under eaves. They’re extremely aggressive but are more likely to sting you when you’re feasting on a food they like.

Reduce Your Risk

If you discover a hornet’s nest on your property, get a professional to remove it. Hornets, like yellow jackets, love rotting food, so make sure your garbage cans are properly sealed.