Long pants and a hoodie on a 95-degree day?
You bet, if you’re trying to get rid of bees.
At least, we thought we were trying to get rid of bees, which is what we call everything that buzzes and threatens to sting, but really it’s most likely that we were aiming to get rid of a wasp nest.
Last summer we noticed a softball-sized wasp nest above our garage door, with plenty of angry wasps swarming around. My husband wanted to go buy some wasp spray, and he even tried but was a half hour too late for the local hardware store’s small-town closing time.
Providence, I thought. (top photo source)
A Natural Wasp Spray
I was just certain my homemade insecticidal soap that we use to kill ants naturally would work awesome as a natural wasp killer, and after a little bit of Swagbucks searching which yielded positive results for soapy water killing bees, hornets and wasps, he agreed to try.
Donning the proverbial wasp killing outfit, with his sweatshirt hood pulled up around his face, my husband wielded our weapon of choice: a hose-end sprayer filled with hot water and dishsoap. (image at right from Zoysia Farms)
I crossed my fingers as he exited the door, hoping I wouldn’t be eating foot for dessert. (As in, “Open mouth, insert foot,” because I was so very wrong.)
He returned in one piece and in awe.
“That was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” he stammered. “They just…died.”
He strongly emphasizes that the power of the water gave him an advantage over the bees wasps, who were stunned and then died before they could chase him.
Here’s our advice to you for getting rid of your wasp nest:
This was probably about the size of ours above the door. Plenty scary enough!
- Use a good amount of dishwashing liquid in a hose-end sprayer, about 1/4 cup.
- Get the water going until the suds begin.
- Blast the nest from as far away as you can be (bee? ha!) while still maintaining a powerful spray.
- Do the deed in the evening (dusk or later) after all the wasps have come home for the night.
- And wear long pants and sleeves, just in case…especially if you have low water pressure.
The soapy water works, by the way, because insects of all kinds wear their skeletons on the outside. The cohesive property of water generally prevents the water from entering their exoskeleton, but soap breaks the surface tension of water. Soapy water ultimately drowns bees, wasps, hornets (and ants, if you’re battling them in the house).
Many readers reminded me that wasps are beneficial insects quite often, so make an educated decision about whether you need to get rid of a nest or not…this comment in particular states the case eloquently and also shares a solution to get the stinging insects to DESERT the nest instead of die, so they leave your family alone but still contribute to the ecosystem. Worth reading!
Should You Kill Honeybees?
There’s one huge caveat to this advice: Don’t kill bees.
If you actually have a honeybee hive rather than a wasp’s or hornet’s nest, you should call a beekeeper, who will likely be happy to take the bees off your hands. They might to do it for free, since they benefit from having more bees in their stock.
UPDATE: If the beehive is difficult to get to (in a wall, for example), the beekeeper will likely ask for (and deserve) a removal fee. Far better to pay a beekeeper to do it right than an exterminator to do it halfway (and a beekeeper in the comments says an old hive with dead bees actually smells quite attractive to more bees…so an exterminator is only a temporary solution anyway.)
At this point in history, we’re in a bit of a honeybee crisis – they’re dying in droves and puzzling scientists and beekeepers, and the state of our food supply is at risk. Wasps can also pollinate and even kill pesky insects in your garden, so if their hive isn’t in a dangerous location, leave them alone, too.
No bees, no pollination, no food.
So please, identify your targets before you shoot. If they’re cute little honeybees, small and grey, like this one:
Call in an expert.
Just like wasps and bees can be pests at a picnic, those little black ants aren’t always my friends either.
If you’re dealing with ants in the kitchen (or other rooms in your house), I’ve just updated my post on getting rid of ants naturally now that we’ve battled them in 2013.
Let’s just say I was working late one night and looked down to see 200 ants under my computer desk. Eck. Luckily, I knew what to do, and I learned a few new tricks too! Click here for all the gory details…
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. Swagbucks will share “bucks” with me if you sign up using my link. Thanks! See my full disclosure statement here.