This week I got a call from a homeowner who thought they had a problem with bees. When I arrived at the home they showed me where they were going in and out of the siding up by the roof. Inside the home the people could hear the bees buzzing and making a slight crunching noise.
I got on the ladder and found out that these were not honey bees but small yellow jackets. These are fairly common here in Indiana in the summer and they normally nest underground outside. They sometimes nest in attics and eaves but, unfortunately, they sometimes nest inside the walls of the home. The homeowner became nervous when he could here buzzing inside the walls. When listening very closely he could hear a soft popping noise like popcorn popping in a distant room. The was the sound of these insects chewing on the drywall.
As the yellow jackets build their nest, the make it larger in diameter. When underground they can increase the size of the nest ball by chewing the dirt around the outside of the nest. Inside the wall of a home, they will try to enlarge the nest by chewing through the drywall. When I arrived at the home there was only a thin layer of paint between the yellow jackets and the inside of the room.
I got to work removing these visitors using a hole saw and a shop vacuum. (pic 1) Notice that I have a full bee suit. Proper protection is an absolute requirement when working with bee and wasp infestations - especially when on a ladder! My goal for this job was to get the bugs out without using any chemical in the wall.
Here is a closer look at part of the nest.(pic 2) You can see a couple of the workers and some brood that I have exposed. I broke up the nest and vacuumed it out one chunk at a time until all the bees were removed. Then the entrance became visible to us inside the wall and we plugged that up with expanding foam.
The drywall repair was left up to the homeowner as agreed to at the beginning of the job. Of course, I tried to minimize the damage. Here is a shot of the wall at the end of the job.(pic 3) The nest was approximately 6" X 8" X 2".