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cookieman's avatar

There are bees in my house, but something is odd. Can you help?

Asked by cookieman (35106points) October 4th, 2009

Today I discovered a yellow-jacket walking on the buffet in my dining room. Oddly, he seemed almost lethargic. After flushing him down the drain I looked around the same spot in my dining room only to discover more of them (about twenty) lurking around under the curtains near my two kitty-cornered windows.

While about five of them were fairly active, the majority of them were either dead or dying. What’s more, some of the dead ones looked as though they had been dead for some time (dry, covered in dust).

After I removed them all and cleaned up the area, I looked all around and only found a tiny, dried up nest inside the window casing (it looked abandoned).

Also, I haven’t sprayed for bugs since May nor has an exterminator been by.

Why would so many dead or dying bees turn up in one spot in my house? Do you have any experience with this?

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11 Answers

casheroo's avatar

We had that with ladybugs, every time it started to get chilly for the Fall. And then wasps appeared. Both would be half dying half very alive.
I think we had a wasp nest somewhere in the building, in the brick walls. We could never locate it and had Terminex come multiple times. We have since moved, and I have friends who live there now having major issues with wasps.

dpworkin's avatar

What’s the weather been like? They don’t do so well in the cold.

gailcalled's avatar

Today I noticed my first influx of ladybugs and cluster flies. That is weather-related.

Grisaille's avatar

Surely signs that the Apocalypse is nigh.

MissAusten's avatar

With most species, I believe the workers die off when the weather turns cold. The “queen” hibernates to start the colony again in the spring. The nest is only used for laying eggs and caring for the larva until they pupate and become adults. I would guess that, this time of year, all of the wasps have “grown up,” the colony is dying off, and the queen has moved on.

This past summer, my son found a small yellow-jacket nest near our house. It was being cared for by one queen. We could see the wasp larva in some of the cells, while others had been closed off for larvae that were pupating. He shooed away the queen, took the nest, and kept it in a jar. When the new wasps emerged, they refused to fly away and only crawled around on the nest. We put the nest outside, but the yellow-jackets never flew off. I wondered if, without the queen around to direct them, they didn’t know what to do. We watched the nest for several days, and never once saw those new wasps fly away. They ended up dying. I wonder if your nest had something happen to the queen, and her young simply hung around and eventually died? This is all complete speculation. I once tried to look up wasp behavior and find out what happens to a small nest if the queen disappears, but didn’t have any luck.

At any rate, it’s probably safe to remove the nest once you’ve had a few nights with a temp below freezing.

filmfann's avatar

When I get large, slow flies in the house, I know we have a dead roof rat in the attic again.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

When you say yellow jacket, what exactly do you mean? There are bumble bees, paper wasps, honey bees and the true yellow jacket that looks almost like a honey bee, but flies in a zig zag motion. I have found several bumble bee workers outside my house recently, usually at night. I put them in a jar, bring them in the house and then let them go when the sun comes up, since I’ve heard that bumble bees can’t fly at night. As for wasps and yellow jackets, I kill them on sight. And honeybees, well there aren’t very many of them around here anymore.

And for some reason, the bald faced hornets have been scarce this year, which works for me, as they are damned aggressive. First good frost, and all the bees will be done for, and the mosquitoes too.

gailcalled's avatar

Don’ forget our friend, the carpenter bee. The clan bores holes that are exactly ½” in diameter on horizontal cedar boards on the exterior of my house.

They bore straight up and then take a right-angle turn to form a lovely tunnel. When the larvae hatch and start to rustle, the sapsuckers tear open the wood to eat the larvae. For the moment, I am taking the policy of “live and let live.” When the soffits on my garage fall off, I may rethink this.

cookieman's avatar

They looked like in-shape honey bees. Black and yellow stripes, stinger, evil looking. I’ve always called them yellow jackets and their plump, fuzzy friends (without the stinger) bumble bees.

I think @MissAusten may be on to something. My wife agrees with @Grissaille though.

And the weather has been down to about 38F at night and 60s during the day. Today it shot up to 75F and humid.

ccrow's avatar

It sounds to me like you might have had a nest inside a wall; I had them one year and some of them got inside. It does sound like what you are seeing are dying-off workers. Look on the bright side: yellowjackets generally don’t reuse a nest. Also, they build their nests somewhere enclosed, like in a wall, or in the ground. If you found a nest in the window, it was probably from paper wasps.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@cprevite bumble bees have stingers, they are simply not very aggressive. They are what I call ‘friendly bees’ in that they might buzz around you, but it is only because they are curious. Wasps, yellow jackets and hornets, on the other hand, are more aggresssive.

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