Prairie State Wildlife

Bees, Wasps and Hornets

Bees, wasps and hornets are common summer insects that cause distress in many people and can, in some instances, cause damage to residential and commercial buildings.  The main species Prairie State Wildlife staff assist customers with include paper wasp species, yellowjackets, bald-faced hornets and honey bees.  Each species requires different control methods and techniques. 

Paper wasp species often create pancake shaped nests and often build them at the peak of a roof, under the soffit and in small cavities on and around the residence.  Their nests can also be found under decks, deck rails and inside outdoor patio furniture.  Although not very aggressive, if one were to come very close to the nest and the wasps detect movement, they will defend their nest and sting.

Yellowjacket species build nests in rodent burrows, planters and inside cavities in buildings.  The yellow jacket queen will overwinter in
Yellowjackets feeding amongst garbage. the cavity and begin nest building and laying eggs in the spring.  By late summer these nest may contain many thousands of wasps.  In a building often there is no sign of any nesting activity,  but occasionally a nest is built near a wall made of drywall.  The yellowjackets, when in close proximity to the wall, will chew the wallboard in order to expand their nest.  Eventually the wasps chew their way through the wallboard reaching the layer of paint on the wall.  The paint collects moisture from the day to day activities of the nest and customers will notice a wet spot on the wall.  Often times customers will poke a hole in the wall while investigating. The yellowjackets begin to investigate the opening and begin to enter the residence.  Customers panic and spray pesticide into the hole.  The result is an alarm response from the wasps and the room will soon be engulfed with angry defensive wasps.  We recommend if a hole develops you open a nearby window, seal the door and call Prairie State Wildlife.  The wasps will calmly enter the room and fly out the window. 

Once the entry point into the residence is located do not cover the hole and do not spray with hornet spray.  The result of these actions will drive the wasps to seek another exit and shortly the insects will find their way into the living space of the residence.  A very undesirable situation indeed!  Please use caution with this species as they are aggressive and can cause serious injury.

Bald-face hornets occasionally build their nests on homes and buildings.  This species nests are most commonly observed hanging in a tree or in bushes.  The nest is attached to branches in the tree and resembles a large football with an entrance hole located at the bottom.  This species, although not a true hornet, but rather a specialized species of yellowjacket, defends the nest aggressively and will chase perceived threats great distances.  Century hornets can often be observed near the entrance to the nest and are the first line of defense.  These hornets are the first to attack any threat and great caution is to be used when working with this species.  The nest, like all yellowjackets, will die off in the winter but not before producing queen hornets to begin new hornet nests the following year.

Honey bees generally cause little concern for customers unless the species is swarming
near or nesting inside a residence. 

Click "Play" to watch honey bees entering and exiting soffit area.

Each spring Prairie State Wildlife receives numerous calls regarding large numbers of honey bees hanging from trees, homes and even cars.  These large "balls" of honey bees are referred to as a "swarm" and consist of a queen bee surrounded by numerous worker bees.  The queen was produced in a hive that has outgrown it's living space.  The new queen leaves the hive in search of a new suitable place to establish a new hive. While searching for a new residence, the swarm will stop on trees, bushes, cars etc. to rest and search for a suitable place to establish the new hive.  Often the swarm will be present for a day or two and once a suitable location is found will move on.  

Honey bees in soffit of residential home.The largest concern for our customers is the fact that honey bees often find voids in homes and buildings suitable for establishing a new hive.  If left uncontrolled these nests may grow to considerable size containing many thousands of honey bees along with many pounds of comb and honey.  Caution must be used when treating and removing honey bees from residential and commercial buildings.  Honey bees are year long residents and the hive does not die off each year as with yellowjackets and hornets.  Honey bees survive the winter feeding on the honey they produce throughout the spring, summer and fall.  The hive continues to grow in size, new queen bees are produced in the spring and along with worker bees leave to establish a new hive.

When treating honey bee hives one must be prepared to remove the honey and comb after treating the hive with pesticide.  During warm weather periods, the bees fan the comb and honey with their wings.  This fanning keeps the hive cool and prevents the comb and honey from melting.  Leaving the comb and honey inside the building after pesticide treatment may result in honey dripping from the comb resulting in a large mess and considerable cleanup expense.

Nighttime pesticide treatment is recommended for each of these species.  Temperatures are lower in the evening resulting in less active insects and greater safety during application.  In addition, all the wasps/bees will be present in the nest during application and will result in a better knockdown rate. 

Prairie State Wildlife
P.O. Box 224 Oswego, IL 60543 US
Phone: (630) 687-3414 Website: