A resident of Pasadena recently contacted me with a “sticky” problem. Bees had created a colony inside the walls of her condo and she wondered what to do. I don’t have any expertise in entomology beyond a few college classes, but I made a few phone calls to see what I could find out.
My first stop was the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office. My organization, UC Cooperative Extension, dispenses gardening advice and information on integrated pest management for gardens and farms, but we don’t have a lot available on structural pests. The Agricultural Commissioner’s office regulates pest control and monitors insect populations, especially invasive insects. It turns out they have two inspectors on staff who field the bee-related questions that arise around the county. I spoke with Inspector Erineo Ada, who can be reached at 626-459-8895. The other inspector is at 626-459-8894. Inspector Ada says they get many calls about bee swarms, both outdoors and within structures.
Inspector Ada told me that once bees get into a structure, there are basically two options for removal. The first option for homeowners is to hire a licensed pest control operator who is registered to do structural work. The alternative is to hire a beekeeper who will remove the bees and find them another home. I did a quick web search and was able to find at least three companies in the Los Angeles area who do live bee removal.
He also suggested that homeowners with a bee problem contact their local vector control agency. Sometimes these agencies can actually come remove a swarm if it is outside of a structure, for example, in a tree. There are two major vector control districts in Los Angeles County. The San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District is on the web at http://www.sgvmosquito.org/
and the Los Angeles County West Vector Control District can be accessed on line at http://www.lawestvector.org/
It’s much easier to keep bees from getting into a structure than it is to get them out once they’re established. The Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner’s website has a great on-line guide on how to bee-proof your home at http://acwm.co.la.ca.us/scripts/proofing.htm
Photo by Kathy Garvey, UC Davis Dept. of Entomology