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5 common bees in the Pacific Northwest

Summer is just around the corner. School is out and it’s time for beach days and picnics in the park. The one thing that can ruin a perfect summer picnic is a bunch of bees swarming around your food. Most bees, especially honey bees, don’t like it too cold. Once it gets much below 55℉, bees’ wing muscles aren’t able to get to the temperature they need to be in order to operate properly. That being said, they don’t like it too hot either. The warm (but not sweltering) climate of places like Portland, Seattle, and other Pacific Northwest cities is perfect for these stinging pests. Discover the most common bee species that you might encounter this summer and what you should know about them.

If you feel you have a problem with stinging pests around your home, contact your local Western Exterminator office today.

Honey bees

Honey bee

When you think of bees, the honey bee is likely the one that comes to mind. Bees are often thought of in conjunction with the sticky substance we often enjoy on toast, but only one type actually makes honey...the honey bee. Using pollen and nectar from flowers, these bees work in perennial colonies to make honeycombs full of honey.

Because they tend to spend a great deal of time around flowers, you may consider positioning your garden away from areas of high traffic such as walkways or doorways. Though these bees are generally docile, they will sting when they feel their hive is being threatened. but unless you’re allergic, this sting will be much more detrimental for the bee than for you. Honey bees leave their stinger in your skin, ripping it from their body and killing the bee.

In the case of an allergy, the repercussions of a bee sting may be much worse than a little pain. If you experience adverse effects after a bee sting, seek medical attention immediately. A common reaction of those severely allergic to bees is anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening and should be treated promptly by medical personnel.

Bumble bees

Bumble bee

These fuzzy creatures are less threatening than they appear. At ¾ - 1 ½ inches in length, a bumble bee can be shocking when it flies near to you. Like their honey-producing cousin, bumble bees can be aggressively protective of their colonies. If they feel threatened, they may sting in defense. However, unlike the honey bee, the bumble bee can sting repeatedly. Because they can sting again and again, a colony is best dealt with by a pest professional.

Bumble bees often build their nests in small cavities inside walls or in abandoned mice burrows, meaning the walls of your home or business may be at risk. If you think that bumble bees may have taken up residence inside your walls, don’t risk your safety. Our specialists are experts in bee hive removal. Safe nest removal is essential in a situation such as this, so leave it up to Western Exterminator.

Sweat bees

Sweat bee

Sweat bees are much smaller than the other bees we’ve been talking about. In contrast to the cooperative honey and bumble bees, sweat bees are solitary ground-nesters. There are many species of sweat bee, but their metallic coloring sets them apart from other types.

Sweat bees are usually not aggressive. These tiny pests are attracted to human perspiration, so stings usually occur when people try to brush the sweat bee off. Luckily, a sweat bee sting isn’t too painful. On the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, sweat bee stings rank at a Level 1, the lowest ranking on the scale.

Because they’re ground-nesters, eliminating bare patches of soil in your yard will reduce the area in which they might nest and will help keep sweat bees away.

Mason bees

Mason bee

Another bee which prefers to nest alone in holes instead of in a hive is the mason bee. These bees take pollinating to a new level with their efficiency. In the time it would take 360 honey bees to pollinate an entire tree, six mason bees could do the job.

More tolerant of cooler temperatures, mason bees emerge from winter hiding spots in early spring before honey bees have a chance. They use dirt and mud to wall up their eggs, so covering such areas with mulch can help with mason bee control.

Threats posed by mason bees are minimal. The males do not have stingers at all and the females will only sting if they are squeezed or trapped. Additionally, mason bees don’t stick around very long, as they only live for about three months.

Carpenter bees

Carpenter bee

Lastly, we have the carpenter bee. If you’re seeing big, black bees around your home, you may have a carpenter bee problem. These bees look quite a bit like bumble bees, but have a bare, shiny abdomen instead of a hairy one. Because of their name, these pests can be lumped into a destructive category with carpenter ants and termites, but this would be inaccurate.

Carpenter bees in Oregon prefer to tunnel into bare, weathered wood. Fortunately for homeowners, they make a habit out of boring into trees, not structures.

Male carpenter bees are relatively aggressive, but their bark is much worse than their bite. Males have no stinger and may just hover around your head. Female carpenter bees can sting if provoked, but usually do not.

Keeping bees away in the Pacific Northwest

Some things that you can do to keep from attracting bees are as follows:

  • Avoid dressing in bright colors or flower patterns (bees may confuse you with a flower)
  • Don’t wear overly fragrant perfumes or lotions outdoors
  • Cover any food and drink when eating outdoors
  • Clean up food waste when you are finished eating

The general rule for bees is “don’t bother them and they won’t bother you.” However, the threat of a sting can be worrisome. If you are experiencing bee activity on your property or if you see a hive, contact Western Exterminator. Our pest specialists can help determine the best course of action for your home or business.

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