Honey bees often leave commercial hives and settle in and around houses. When established between walls they present special problems. If the services of an apiarist are available, the unpleasant task of killing the hive can be avoided, but usually such a problem must be dealt with urgently.
A method sometimes adopted where insecticides are not acceptable involves fastening a cone of cardboard over the entrance into the wall, with the broad end against the wall over the problem area, and the smallend (about 6-10mm across) outwards. The bees can leave and resettle elsewhere, but they cannot re-enter the small apeture of the cone, so gradually the hive dies out. If the hive has not been established for any length of time, the entire hive may leave.
Where necessary, the hive must be killed, particuarly when allergic people are likely to be stung. Some people may die from one bee sting, and if they know this they usually carry medication on them in case they are stung. Dichlorvos is an insecticide often used for the control of bees (pesticide regulatory authorities may require a permit if this use is not idicated on the product label). Holes may be drilled into the wall and the insecticide forced in using a cylinder of carbon dioxide and dichlorvos. This treatment is very effective. particuarly if done at night, when most bees are in the hive.
The European wasp is now established in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania and will in time occur throughout much of Australia. The English wasp has been known in Victoria for some time and has similar habits to the European wasp. Separation of these two species is normally beyond the ability of pest controllers.
Appearance: The workers of both species are sterile females about 12-15mm long, with yellow bands on a black body. They are fast fliers, with clear wings that fold longitudinally over their bodies. Queens and males measure about 20mm, the queen having a stout abdomen and the male a long thin abdomen. The nest varies in size from about 15cm to about 5m and may contain up to 4 million cells and over 100,00 workers. The wasps nest mostly in the ground, tree stumps, rockeries, wall cavities and roof voids.
The European wasp may sting several times when disturbed or agitated, and the sting is very painful. In New Zealand, where the European wasp also occurs, it attacks weak hives of the honey bee, causing losses in honey production. However, to date there is no evidence of similar losses of honey in Australia. This wasp is predatory on other insects and their larvae and has some value in this regard.