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View Full Version : When is it safe to remove a large bee/hornet/wasp nest?



Matt Meiser
10-28-2012, 10:20 PM
I found a basketball-size nest in one of our trees today. About 6'above my head when mowing all year! Wondering when it is safe to cut it down? We've had a light freeze or two but nothing hard.

David Weaver
10-28-2012, 10:25 PM
I'd wait until it's about 35 degrees and smash the thing with the lawnmower once it's down.

Of course, I could be wrong, and it'd stink to find out that they keep the center of the next at a higher temperature by moving in it, even in the winter.

Matt Meiser
10-28-2012, 10:44 PM
Want to come try for me? :eek:

Pretty sure looking at pictures that its a wasp nest. I'd like to be sure to kill whatever is left in it and hopefully eliminate some for next summer.

John Coloccia
10-28-2012, 10:55 PM
Want to come try for me? :eek:

Pretty sure looking at pictures that its a wasp nest. I'd like to be sure to kill whatever is left in it and hopefully eliminate some for next summer.

I found out a couple of years ago that I'm allergic. For large nests, I call in pro's because I just can't risk getting stung 20 times. That said, if it looked dormant, I would simply stand back and spray it with wasp killer spray. That stuff will shoot 20' and absolutely destroy the nest and anything in it. Just drench it. By the next day, it will be destroyed and everything in it will be killed. You'll know if they're still active the first instant you spray it, but they'll come out flying as walking dead and just drop to the ground in seconds. I suggest you just get two cans, one in each hand, and start spraying. Have a good escape route planned. If you're allergic and not feeling brave, just call a pro.

Ole Anderson
10-28-2012, 11:34 PM
Matt, no guts, no glory. Wait until it is below freezing, climb up on a tall ladder, cut it out, bag it and set it out for the garbage man after soaking it with wasp killer.

David G Baker
10-29-2012, 12:16 AM
Matt
Spray the nest with stinging insect spray (the kind that reaches a long distance) into the opening in the evening when it is cold and all of the critters are in the nest. Watch the nest for a day or so to make sure all activity has ceased. I get a ladder and a black garbage bag and put it over the nest, break the nest off of the tree and seal it with the attached ties to be safe. I have done this several times with out any problems. You can spray the nest and just leave it until you feel safe about taking it down. When I find an in-ground nest I pour diesel fuel in the hole after dark. This kills them. The reason for waiting until after dark is to make sure they are all in the nest. Good luck.

Peter Kelly
10-29-2012, 12:47 AM
If you're really dying to get rid of it you could cut it down at night when it's cooler with a pole pruner. Most insects won't really fly around below 50.

Wasps almost never come back to a nest anyway so you could just leave it. It'll decay by itself over the winter.

Ken Fitzgerald
10-29-2012, 12:47 AM
David's recommendations are spot on as usual.

We have a lot of yellow jackets in the area and they often will set up nests on the overhang of roofs. I do as David suggests.....wait until dusk when they return to the nest and spray them with wasp spray. Watch the nest for a day or two and then remove it.

Typically, even if they aren't all in the nest, they will abandon it and not return. I've seen them fly around it for a short while and then I don't see them anymore.

Rick Moyer
10-29-2012, 7:49 AM
If you're really dying to get rid of it you could cut it down at night when it's cooler with a pole pruner. Most insects won't really fly around below 50.

Wasps almost never come back to a nest anyway so you could just leave it. It'll decay by itself over the winter.

Right. You can leave it or take it down this winter/spring. They will build a new one somewhere anyway. Likely not using that one now or much longer.

Derek Gilmer
10-29-2012, 8:10 AM
This about sums it up for me:
244311

Lee Schierer
10-29-2012, 8:35 AM
Matt, unlike honeybees, wasps don't reuse their hanging paper nests from year to year. You can either leave it and the winter weather will take care of it or take it down. Any remaining wasps will be inactive if the temp is below 35. Some school biology teachers like to get the empty nests and if you get it down in one piece, you can cut it in half and see the details of the nesting area inside.

Jay Jolliffe
10-29-2012, 9:56 AM
Wait until they vacate it and donate it to the science class at the grade school.....I bet they would really like to see it. I had one that they built on the glass in a window & you could see all the workings inside but unfortunately someone came along & scraped it off before I could remove the glass from the window...

Jeff Monson
10-29-2012, 11:34 AM
Matt, you have gotten great advice so far. You can wait till it gets colder and safely remove it. They will not return to this nest and vacate when the weather gets cold. I'd 2nd Jay's advice on donating it to a school. Here is a pic of my son with one we removed this summer. It was about 8' up in a tree beside our house, I had this one sprayed by a pro. as I didnt feel like flirting with disaster with a nest this size.
244318

Ken Garlock
10-29-2012, 12:27 PM
Matt, the solution to your problem is so simple that you will be amazed. Go to your local Borg, and get a can of Wasp ;and Hornet spray. It will spray a stream a good 10 feet or more.

Wait until after dark. All the critters will be in the nest. Get about 5 or 6 feet away from the nest and let them have it with the spray. They will come falling out. The bees are slow at night and you have the entire family to shoot down in just a couple blasts. The next day cut down the nest and burn it or bag it up for the trash man.

This also works on Black Widow spiders, but the old girl takes about a half dozen blasts to do her in. Don't forget the nest of eggs.

Kevin Bourque
10-29-2012, 12:30 PM
12 ga. shotgun with birdshot does the job quite nicely.

David G Baker
10-29-2012, 12:36 PM
I like to do the nests as soon as I spot them so the new queens don't get the opportunity to start a new colony. When I lived in Northern California there were a lot of Black Widows on my property. I would go hunting them at night with a flashlight, spray them with Aqua Net hair spray so they couldn't move then knock them down with a stick and stomp on them. Worked every time.

Matt Meiser
10-29-2012, 1:05 PM
I was hoping to avoid the spray and it sounds like it won't be an issue. Earlier in the season I'd have sprayed it no problem but at this point who cares and may as well save a little poison. I think I'll contact the school and see if they want it.

Jeff, ours is about that same size. Glad I don't hang around the trees long anymore while mowing!

Art Mulder
10-29-2012, 1:54 PM
I found a basketball-size nest in one of our trees today. About 6'above my head when mowing all year! Wondering when it is safe to cut it down? We've had a light freeze or two but nothing hard.

I share your surprise.

About a week or so ago the last of the leaves fell out of our red maple in the front yard (city lot, 50ft wide, the tree is about 8ft from the sidewalk, ~20ft from the house.) that is when we discovered the paper wasp nest -- larger than a basketball -- sitting in the branches on the front side of the tree, about 7-8ft off the ground.

This thing is big.

We're also just going to wait for a good freeze before we mess with it.

But we're wondering just when they moved in. Our kids were climbing this tree in the spring, to check out a robin's nest (after the babies had fledged). We haven't really seen much in the way of wasps this season either.

...art

Jeff Monson
10-29-2012, 3:25 PM
I share your surprise.

About a week or so ago the last of the leaves fell out of our red maple in the front yard (city lot, 50ft wide, the tree is about 8ft from the sidewalk, ~20ft from the house.) that is when we discovered the paper wasp nest -- larger than a basketball -- sitting in the branches on the front side of the tree, about 7-8ft off the ground.

This thing is big.

We're also just going to wait for a good freeze before we mess with it.

But we're wondering just when they moved in. Our kids were climbing this tree in the spring, to check out a robin's nest (after the babies had fledged). We haven't really seen much in the way of wasps this season either.

...art

Thats really surprising Art, we also didnt see much activity of extra wasps either. I mowed around that tree, plus our kids play around that tree all the time. They didnt bother us, which makes me feel kind of bad destroying all their hard work.

Mike Cutler
10-29-2012, 5:34 PM
Matt

It depends on the occupants.
35 degrees is okay as a rule, but if those are whitefaces hornets you have my word that 35 deg. Isn't cold enough.
Do not spray at nite unless you own Beekeepers Veil. Wasps, hornets and bees can see very well in the dark! I dropped a hive one nite moving it, and they had no problems finding me.
Leave it be for another few weeks and nature will take care of the problem for you.

Matt Meiser
10-29-2012, 5:39 PM
As windy as its getting, Mother Nature may take care of it tonight!

Mike Cutler
10-29-2012, 5:54 PM
Mother Nature just took care of three pine trees and a pear tree for me:(
Looks like I'll have some free pear wood for the lathe folks.
It's usually best to just leave those nests alone if you can. Without a beesuit and veil it can get dicey quick.

Matt Meiser
10-29-2012, 6:05 PM
We are "only" getting 45mph gusts. Direct from the north so it's cold. Luckily not nearly as much rain forecast and the ground isn't that wet so it should cause too many problems.

Brad Schafer
10-31-2012, 8:54 AM
Matt- if Jeff's pic in #13 is what you have, that's what we call "hornets".

The nests have a main entrance on the bottom, but there are also a couple of alternate escape routes, and they WILL get used (voice of experience). If you're spraying a live nest in warm weather, best bet is to do in the evening and (as others have said) with a couple cans of spray, but you really need a second sprayer and some pre-spray inspection to make sure you find likely alternate exits.

If you cut a nest in half vertically, it looks like a multi-level stack of paper wasp nests (hotel?). Ground bees (fruit bees, yellow jackets, variety of names) built their undergrounds similarly - and there are thousands of critters in a big one. I mowed over top of a nest with the bush hog a couple years back and got hit around 30 times before realizing I was "under attack".

Finally, I'd be real careful about donating to a school unless the thing has been fumigated well. My uncle took one of these down years ago and donated without a good strong killing sequence ... and when the thing got inside in the warm, critters started hatching and crawling out of the nest. :eek: The adults might abandon and die, but the pupae are still in there.

-b

Jim Matthews
10-31-2012, 5:32 PM
This about sums it up for me:
244311

Subtlety being your strong suit, then.
I'm not sure jellied gasoline and a tree next to the house are a great combination...

Still, it would eradicate the insects.

Patrick McCarthy
10-31-2012, 6:44 PM
Wondering when it is safe to cut it down?

Simple: Whenever your SPOUSE is available to do it!

Kevin Dube
10-31-2012, 8:33 PM
Whatever you do, make sure my buddy John isn't in there first...http://emoticoner.com/files/emoticons/smileys/bee-smiley.gif?1292867554


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41uLPAYtsTL._SL500_SS500_.jpg

We haven't seen John in a long time, and miss him dearly. http://emoticoner.com/files/emoticons/smileys/beee-smiley.gif?1292867555