How Long Will a Honey Bee Nest Stay Around?

If you discover a honey bee nest on your property, expect it to be around for a while. Unlike bumble bees and wasps, which build new nests every year, honey bees build more permanent structures and will live in the nest for several years. The good news is honey bees are rather passive compared with bumble bees and won't bother you if you don't bother them. But you may want to get rid of the nest anyway, particularly if the bees have taken up residence in part of your house. Honey bees have been known to swarm and attack if the nest is threatened, something a family member or pet may do inadvertently.

Honey Bee Nests

The Structure of Honey Bee Nests

Honey bees are opportunistic in selecting a place to nest and typically choose sheltered and isolated spots like the hollow of a tree, a hole in a wall or fence or under the eaves of house. Since they are perennial insects that survive for more than one year, they build complex hives or honey combs designed to last several years. The hives are amazing examples of insect engineering and consist of hundreds of small, six-sided cells or combs used to store honey and raise young insects. The queen bee lays her eggs in combs called brood combs and young bees are raised there. An average nest houses 10,000 to 20,000 bees and larger ones can contain 50,000.

What To Do with Nests

If you find a honey bee nest on your property, you'll probably want to get rid of it if the bees have nested in the walls of a house or under the eaves. Over time, honey leaking out of the hive will damage walls and even abandoned nests will eventually decompose and do some damage in the process. The scent of honey bees will also attract other insects and even rodents so the problems aren't reserved to just bees. In some cases, you can hire a bee keeper to remove and relocate a nest or hire an exterminator to remove and destroy it. Killing the bee colony without removing the nest is not recommended, since it will continue to cause problems with decay long after the bees are gone.

Doug Desjardins

Doug Desjardins is a journalist and research analyst. He has worked for more than a half-dozen newspapers, magazines and websites and hiswork has appeared in a number of publications including the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Magazine.