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Some people like bees...but not these!

Home Inspector with North Jersey Property Inspections, Inc 24GI00142400 MET13458

Bob "RealMan" Timm wrote a blog this summer that inspired me to share this story 'Some People Like Bees'.  Before I begin, I should say that I am aware of the significant global decline of honey bees, and have entertained and researched beekeeping in an effort help restore the population.  The bees I am going to refer to in my blog are wasps.  Although Honey Bees and Wasp look very much alike, the difference between them is that Honey Bees are hairy and produce honey while Wasps have a shiny smooth exterior and do not produce honey, they steal honey.  A honey bee will  sting once and die but a single wasp can sting multiple times.  The bees in my story, I can assure you, are wasps.  

Late July or early August, my wife and I began to experience the sound of deep breathing by some type of animal  in the attic above our bedroom.  At first I thought it was the sound of my wife sleeping but when I got up to take my shower she came into the bathroom to ask me to come out and listen to it.  She thought it was me breathing deeply in my sleep but it continued even after I had left the room.  Now that we both knew it wasn't each other, the search in the attic begins.  As a home inspector, nothing much escapes me but except for some bat dropping on the insulation from occupants a few years back, I couldn't find anything new.  I carefully lifted up some of the insulation where I thought it might be nesting, but couldn't find evidence of anything living in there.  My wife was convinced it was a snake, slithering against the bedroom ceiling sheet rock. I abandoned my search in hopes that I'd get lucky on another day or it would move on to a new home.

Meanwhile, I've been battling bees nesting on our roof.  I thought I had given the hive a good soaking but I continued to notice bees flying around our roof.  I climbed up to spray them one more time and realized that the hive was empty.  I noticed that there were dead leaves caught in the valley of the roof between two gables and they seem to be flying in and out of there.  I found a stick I could fit between the two spaces and knocked the leaves off so I could see the new nest they were building but it wasnt there.  Before I gave up, I gave the area another soaking and climbed off the ladder.  Days later, those bees were still flying around up there.  Over the next few days I continued to spray the area slowly concentrating my solution hoping to find the dose that would get rid of them.    


One morning, I woke up at about 5:30 AM to the sound of snoring coming from the attic. I had just received my new infa-red camera and was waiting for an opportunity to use it.  I wasn't sure it was going to work for this purpose but I gave it a try to see if I  could find the sleeping spot. Low and behold, there it is! a huge blob (change in temperature) in the ceiling.  It was quite large!  How could it be that we haven't heard this walking around before?  Then, I noticed it is a tight spot between two rafters in a gable inaccessible to the rest of the attic.   What is this thing?  I went to tap on the ceiling to startle it and see if it moves, how it moves and where it goes. My knuckle went through the sheetrock which was like Onion skin being kept in place only by the latex paint on the ceiling.  A few bees fall out of the hole. Panic! "Get out! Get Out!"  I shout to my wife still fast asleep in bed.  "I just opened a bees nest and theyre coming out into the bedroom!"  She's confused and still half asleep, I grabbed her arm.  "Get out! Bees"  Not wanting to give up on her sleep, she grabs her pillow and blanket and runs out of the room.  

The bees are also sounding their alarm.  The guard bees are being summoned to the new entrace of the hive.  It will take just a short time for the guard bees to arrive.  Luckily my spray canister is still full having made another attempt of removing them from my roof the day before.  But I know my wife will be disappointed if I don't protect the bedroom rug from drips that are bound to fall from the hive so I grab a grabage bag too.  I run back into the room, placed the garbage bag under the hole I had created and then proceeded to spray into the hive.  Little did I know, the guard bees had already arrived.  As I spray, one of them flies out behind me and starts to sting me multiple times.  I have been marked.  Now the rest will follow.  I drop everything and run for my life. As I slammed the bedroom door shut, I can hear bees banging against the bedroom door.  Or, was that the sound of one of our water sprinklers hitting the side of our house?

I used my son's bathroom at the other end of the hall to tend to my stings and I can hear a tornado of bee buzzing inside my bedroom.  My wife grabs a few towels and pushes them under the door.  Like a horror movie, she's thinking they'll find their way through the crack just to get me.  My son is awake now too.  Worried they could come in through the air-conditioning vents.  He proceeds to duct tape the vent in his room just to be sure they can't get in that way.  (My family watches too many horror movies!)

So now what?  For now, we'll "Let it Bee". My wife and I have no way of returning to our bedroom until the bees settle down.  But while she's facebooking the entire event, I know, I have to go back in there.  I need a plan.  About an hour and a half goes by and we can hear there's still a tornado swirling around in my bedroom.  I bought a ladder outside and rested it against my bedroom window.   Yep, there are thousands of them.  They're everywhere.  The walls, the furnture, the bed,  the door, all covered by bees.  Then there were the one still flying around.  My spray canister is still lying on the floor.  How do I get in there and finish spraying them?

My wife comes out, still in her PJ's.  "I don't have any clothes to wear." she say's and the dread now gets heavier.  "There's abolutely nothing I can recycle from the laundry room.  The bin is empty.  I also need to comb my hair and brush my teeth."  " Hand me my Tyvek suit and gas mask." I said.  "Search google to make sure they can't sting me through the Tyvek.  The gas mask should protect my face."   


What's that army slogan again?  Bee all you can Bee?

Once I got geared up, making certain I had no exposed skin for the bee to swing, I went back in the room swatting with a kitchen spatula.  They tried to sting me but I was indeed well protected.  I found my wife's clothes and toiletries but first I thought to pick up my canister and spray them again.  Making sure I did a good job this time.  Then, I got my wife's stuff and a few of my own and made a bee-line to the bedroom door.  Needless to say, My wife was super impressed.  She even gave me a HIgh Hive!   

It was three hours later when the bedroom finally got quiet.  It was time to inspect what will from now on be considered the Beeroom.  


                                   Dead Wasps


Dead bees were everywhere.  Our hurricane lamps were filled a third of the way up with dead bees.  There were dead bees on the window panes, on the bed, in the bathtub and everywhere else.  Time to pull out the shop vac and clean up so we can use the room once again.  Then shop vac anything that's still in the nest and hopefully the nest itself.



Larve final stages

 Above you'll notice the unhatched eggs and on the right are hatched larve.  We sucked thousands or these from our hole in the ceiling.  The bees has eaten away all of the insulation between two rafters in our roof and then ate all of the sheetrock underneath it up to the latex paint.  The entire cavity was now bee hive.  I cleaned it thouroughly and thought I would wait until the weekend to patch it up.  But, every day there were dozens of bees still dropping out of the hole until about the sixth or seventh day when there were only a handful.  Apparently, my shop vac missed a few pupas that didn't complete their metaphorphisis and those died later.

That deep breathing sound in the attic that kept eluding our attempt to identify it...it stopped.  Haven't heard it since.  It had nothing to do with the nest.  the nest was stationary in one place.  The heavy breathing was clearly traveling from one end of the attic to another.  Perhaps it lost it's meal supply.  This fall when I get back up to clean off the leaves on the roof, I'll be looking extra hard for openings into my attic.  I'll need to purchase some critter caps for the downspouts and corner posts on my siding to make sure there is no re-entry of bees and heavy breathing animals into my atttic.

I hope you enjoyed my story.  Please don't try to do any of the things I did on your own.  If you have a pest problem in your home, you should call an exterminator.  And the poltergeist you think is in your attic, it's not.




John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
Honesty, Integrity, Results, Experienced. HIRE Me!

Good Friday morning ANTHONY DI IORIO -

Bees are not for me.  I'm terribly allergic to them with my throat swelling up if stung.  In fact, I'm feeling a little wheezy just thinking about it.   

Sep 22, 2016 11:34 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

I had a nest of yellow jackets at our mailbox but nothing close to what you had. Got stung three or four times then took got the hose and drowned those suckers 

Sep 23, 2016 03:08 AM
Wayne Zuhl
Remax First Realty II - Cranford, NJ
The Last Name You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

Oh my gosh - what a nightmare! You were braver than I would have been, for sure!

Oct 02, 2016 11:19 PM