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If you have noticed an invasion of bees in or around your home then this can be pretty worrying. Even if the hive is placed on the outer walls of the house, there are horror stories about bees chewing their way inside. But can bees eat through walls?
Bees can chew through a variety of materials including wood, drywall, expanding foam, and insect screens. However, there are also some materials that these tiny creatures are unable to chew their way through including certain types of plastic.
For bee infestations in or on the walls of your home, it’s important to contact a professional for the most tailored advice. That said, there are some important things you should know so keep reading to find out what you’ll need to do.
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Mason bees are one of the biggest culprits for eating through walls and you will normally find these bees living in a small hole or tunnel that they have created or found. These holes are usually no wider than a pencil and in most cases, mason bees won’t do any real damage to the building. But we will go into more detail on this later on.
That said, if the walls are not of the best quality or the mortar is weak then there is more risk of damage being sustained. For walls that are already crumbling, it is important to repair any weak spots if you think that mason bees could be inhabiting the area.
The good news about mason bees is that they aren’t typically aggressive so they won’t pose an immediate threat to you or your family.
Another of the most common bees to come and stay on or around your property is the honey bee. These bees usually make their nests within the fabric of the house and when they arrive, they do so in large numbers. On the other hand, mason bees usually arrive in far fewer amounts.
If you do have an infestation of honey bees in the walls of your property, the best thing to do is to contact a professional. While honey bees are not necessarily aggressive, they can become so if they feel threatened. Trying to remove such large numbers without any prior experience is asking for trouble.
A beekeeper would normally provide a free removal service if there is a swarm around the home. However, in the event that the bees have nested within the walls, you’ll need to contact a professional pest controller as this will be outside of most beekeepers’ remits.
Bumble bees rarely cause so much of an issue for humans that their nests need to be removed. It is highly unlikely that these gentle bees will do any damage to your house so the best thing to do is to leave them alone.
Not only will this species of bee not damage your property, but they will normally only nest there for a short period of time. Where mason and honey bees might be in it for the long haul, you can see bumble bees as temporary visitors. What’s more, they’re only interested in going about their own business and it’s extremely rare for them to want to interact with or cause problems for humans.
Whether or not bees can eat through a wall will largely depend on the material it is made from. One of the biggest fears for homeowners is that a bee infestation will quickly chew its way through a wall causing costly damage.
Most bee species won’t be able to eat through wood so if your home is made from wood then you should be OK. However, if you have an infestation of carpenter bees, then the clue is in the name and you may find yourself facing something of a dilemma.
It’s the females that you need to worry about as they have a tendency to chew small holes in which they will lay their eggs. These holes can tunnel back quite some way. Note that female carpenter bees do prefer to chew through softwood as it’s a lot easier for her.
You’ll notice that these bees go for the fascia boards or house sidings but there have also been a lot of reports of them going for wooden garden furniture and other outdoor structures. However, since it takes the female as many as six days to drill just an inch into the wood, you may notice the action in time to do something about it. If you don’t then there is a risk that the same female will return season after season and this will obviously cause more damage to your home.
Make sure to check any wooden structures for carpenter bees or the damage that they cause. When you do notice a problem, be ready with an insecticide treatment or a natural method, if you prefer. Treated wood is not as attractive to carpenter bees so keep your wood in good condition and treat it regularly.
Inside the home, a lot of people opt for drywall but while there are a lot of benefits to this material, one of its main downsides is that it’s incredibly easy for bees to chew through. If they feel the need, they’ll get right to work.
One of the main reasons that they’ll do this is when they are trapped. If you have sealed up an entry point and the bees have no other option but to gnaw through the drywall on the other side, this is what they’ll do. What’s more, bees use drywall as insulation for their nests and this is another reason you might find them eating through it.
Where there is an established nest in the walls of your house, the bees may eat through the drywall as a way of creating new entrances.
With all that said, these scenarios are unlikely since drywall is typically used indoors and bees build their nests outdoors, for the most part. If they do happen to build one inside, then it would be pretty obvious as they would construct it in a corner.
On the subject of drywall, it’s also worth noting that yellow jackets can be a real pest with chewing through it. This is especially true during the spring and summer when a lot of people find that yellow jackets have invaded the home and built a nest here.
These creatures will grow their nests over time and as the colony grows, it might not only be damage to your property that you are worried about. The yellow jackets can get quite noisy and you’ll likely hear them buzzing about inside the walls.
The worst thing about this is how quickly yellow jackets can chew through a wall. If there is an entire nest, it may be as little as a couple of days before they’ve chewed their way through. Compared to bees, this is super fast as bees would normally achieve the same level of damage in weeks as opposed to days.
The best way to avoid problems with yellow jackets is to make sure they cannot get into the house in the first place. Keep all possible entry points sealed such as cracks in the walls and windows.
We put up insect screens as a way of keeping critters out of the home but the bad news is that bees have the ability to chew their way through if they so desire. Of course, it largely depends on what the screen is made from as to whether the bees will have a hard time chewing their way through.
Most insect screens are made from fibreglass but there are also those made from different types of metal, polyester, nylon, and a whole host of other materials. If you want to make sure that bees cannot eat their way through then you’ll need to choose something robust. Metal is the best option as there’s no way even the largest colony of bees would be able to make a dent in it.
Again, we have to touch on the yellow jacket which can also be a problem here. Just like bees, they will be able to chew through certain materials so choosing a strong one for your insect screen is the best way to prevent this. While wooden framed screens might look nice, they’re an open invite for yellow jackets and bees to work their way through.
Also, pay attention to the quality and condition of your insect screen. If there is already a certain amount of damage, the bees will take advantage of that. When the screen is coming away from the frame, this creates an opening for the bees to enter so make sure that everything is in good condition.
The only bees that will really do any damage to brickwork are masonry bees. We touched upon this earlier on but it’s important to note that it is very unlikely that these bees will come along and chew through every brick, in turn ruining your home.
We aren’t living in a horror movie and the most likely outcome would be that the bees enter into holes that are already present in the brickwork. Mason bees are opportunistic so if they find a crack, crevice, or tunnel then they’ll quickly move in. Yes, they have the ability to grow that crack, crevice, or tunnel but there are very few reports of them demolishing a building this way.
These bees use their mandibles to make holes larger and even bore new ones but there are many ancient buildings that are riddled with masonry bees and are still standing strong.
That said, one of the main issues is if moisture gets into the holes created by the bees. If this water freezes then problems associated with the brick expanding and contracting can come into play.
Nobody wants to share their home with bees. While these fascinating creatures are, for the most part, docile and unthreatening, having them destroy your home is not something anyone would welcome. So when they make their arrival, one of the first things people want to know is, ‘can bees eat through walls?’
Bees can eat through walls but most of the time, this is minimal and they don’t cause a hefty amount of damage. Of course, if they are left to return and continue chewing through the material, eventually this will require repairs which could be costly.
The best thing to do is to call a professional who will be able to remove the bees from your walls safely and humanely. It is then important to ensure that any cracks or holes are filled in so that there are no future invasions.