Bees are one of the oldest living species. In addition to providing humans with beeswax and honey, they pollinate about 1/3 of all crops eaten in the U.S. However, since the pests also construct nests in homes, barns, and sheds, homeowners find their presence frustrating.
Species of bees vary in size and shape. Most are yellow and black or have metallic coloring. They range in size from 1/4 to 1 inch long and have small heads, large abdomens, and four wings. Though often confused with wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets, bees are distinguishable by their rounder and furry bodies.
Although not native to North America, bees are found in every U.S. state. Some species, like Africanized or "killer" honey bees, require tropical climates to survive. Honey and bumble bees build wax hives, while ground bees dig holes in wood or earth.
In nature, bees nest in trees and logs. When given access to homes, the pests construct hives in walls, attics, or crawlspaces. Ground-dwelling bees search for large areas of exposed, dry, undisturbed soil, and find sparse lawns inviting places to dig tunnels and lay eggs.
These generally passive pests will sting when they feel threatened. Stings are painful and sting sites may swell. Allergic individuals can go into anaphylactic shock after an encounter with a bee. Additionally, ground-dwelling bee species may dig up lawns and ruin landscaping.