Along with warm weather and flowering plants, spring brings an increase in the number of stinging pests seen around homes. Though some of these insects are considered to be essential members of our local ecosystems for their pollination of flowers and other vegetation, it can still be distressing to find a hive full of stinging pests inside or nearby your home.

Sting

From insect spray to homemade traps, there are a number of DIY methods circulating on the internet that claim to help get rid of stinging pests. But how safe and effective are these methods? There may be some that believe smoking out wasps and bees could be a removal method. Let’s dive into how smoke is really used with stinging pests.

Smoking Out Stinging Pests: Does it Work?

For several decades, researchers have been studying the effects of smoke on the behavior of bees and other stinging pests. In an article published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, two researchers found that “the administration of smoke to [wasp and bee] colonies before disturbing them greatly reduces the number of attacks.” Likewise, in more recent article, Henry Graham notes that “Smoke reduces defensive behavior and allows the beekeeper to manipulate frames of bees without being stung” when managing and inspecting their colonies.

Beekeepers do this because, as the guard bees sense the presence of the oncoming beekeeper. Guard bees will swarm the entrance of the hive and release an aggression pheromone to ale rt the colony of the intruder. As they do, more bees may appear at the entrance of the hive to prepare for further intrusion from the attacker. To prevent being stung when they inspect their hives, beekeepers may use a bee-smoker and direct smoke at the entrance of the hive. It is believed that this method helps to calm the bees and reduce their defensive behavior, which can help the beekeeper interact with the hive with ease. While this is a well-known and widely-practiced method for beekeepers, not much is known about why it works.

One argument about why this method works is that “ smoke disrupts chemical communication among bees” and may hinder the bees’ ability to release their alarm pheromones. Others believe that the smoke weakens the bees’ sense of smell and reduces their ability to sense the alarm pheromones. Others, however, simply believe that the smoke serves as a temporary distraction for the bees.

Though effective for beekeepers, the efficacy of using smoke to remove bees from a home has not been considered. Actually, this method is believed to simply soothe the bees, as opposed to driving them out of a home. Though this method may prove to be useful for professional beekeepers, it is not recommended to use in a home, as entomologists from Texas A&M University note that using a smoker inside a home or other building can cause smoke odor to linger inside for weeks.

DIY Control: Do or Don’t?

In general, attempting DIY control for bees, wasps, and other stinging pests is not recommended. According Dr. Michael F. Potter from the University of Kentucky, these pests can become aggressive when they sense that their nest is being threatened. Because many DIY control methods involve moving or disturbing the nests, Dr. Potter warns that these methods may result in stings, which may cause allergic reactions. And as the Mayo Clinic warns, those that experience a severe allergic reaction to a bee or wasp sting should “call 911 or other emergency services if you're having a serious reaction to a bee sting that suggests anaphylaxis.” While the Mayo Clinic also notes that most bee stings are just a nuisance, it’s important to take steps to avoid stings from bees, wasps, and other stinging pests.

A Better Alternative

When it comes to removing these pests from your home, smoking out wasps and bees is not recommended, nor is attempting DIY control that may disturb the hive an d put you at risk for receiving painful stings.

Instead, it is always recommended to contact a local beekeeper for help to remove a bee hive. Or, contact a pest management professional to help remove wasps and their nests from your home. At Terminix, our service technicians are trained in the best methods for stinging pest control. Contact your local Terminix branch to receive a Free Estimate on removing stinging pests from your home.