I just bought a duplex. Its solidly constructed, but in the rear there is an opening in the brickwork under the kitchen window. Its the same on each side, and was purposely done. I don't know if this is a bricklayer question or a general contractor question or an architecture question. I can't figure out what purpose it serves, and it floors me that there is any break in the exterior at all. This small opening has wire across it, so no mice can get in, but bugs can surely come and go (not to mention wind and weather!). On one side, I'm seeing bees come and go since about mid-summer. I want to seal it, but I don't know the best way, and I'm hesitant to do so without knowing why its there in the first place. And of course now with the bees, I don't know whether that would kill them, or if they'd just make another exit and cause a worse problem.
I'd appreciate any insight or advice on how to deal with the problem.
Since I can only attach one photo, I've chosen the closeup. The opening is about 12"-18" directly below the center of the kitchen window and opens into the wall behind the kitchen cabinets. The wire mesh is mortared in. The yellow blurs are bees.
Without knowing the exact demensions "weep holes" come to mind. Maybe this will explain
Redoverfarm, thanks for the link. That may be exactly what I have; although, these holes are the only ones and they are about 3-4' off the ground, not at the top or bottom. They are a few inchest at most; I will post dimensions later this eve.
All I can say is YIKES - that doesn't seem like a well-thought-out solution for ventilation, although cementing them shut may not be an option either. Is there something I can cover these holes with that will sustain ventilation while keeping out insects? I have also noticed the occasional wet spot on the batting at the basement ceiling after a storm, in the joist space just beneath the wall where the holes are located. It dries up eventually, but is not a good situation.
Thank you for the lead, I will do some research on my own. Any ideas or suggestions are very welcome!
It looks as if it has heavier screen to keep the larger critters out but not insects. You can get you some window screen and use epoxy around the outside edges and affix it to the larger wire. That will prevent the insects from entering but still allow air movement and drainage out.
If your only concern is insects then just glue a finer screen over what you have. It's only a 1-1/2" x 2-3/4" hole so it will only take a small scrap of screen.
It is probably some form of vent hole, just an unusual style as most are smaller and in greater number.
Only weep holes I've ever seen are just where the mason left so mortar out so the wall can breath.
I'd be tempted to cut out a brick and make it smaller.
the modern weep hole in commercial construction in these parts is a chunk of poly rope left in holes regularly around a foot off the base of the brick/block wall. probably cut flush from use as form holders. serves the same function.
sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Jaybee, are you sure you're in TN??... because you know almost the exact dimensions of these little openings. I measured them last night after the bees came home, and found them to be 2" wide by just under 3". I like the idea posted by redoverfarm of affixing a finer mesh screen to the opening. My only concern is timing. I would do it at mid-day so as not to catch the bees at home, but I'm wondering what is the consequence if there are still bees inside? Surely the queen bee is in there and never comes out. I will eventually rent the place, and don't want to have a bigger problem with the bees making their own exit indoors. Anyone have knowledge or experience with bee infestations? I'm not sure how long they may have been there or whether there is a hive and how big (having nightmares about it). Thanks for all continued advice and comment!
If you are not a tree hugger ( politically correct ?)and don't care to exterminate the bees you might try this. Buy a can of wasp&hornet spray. Get some duct tape. At dark spray 1/2 can into each of the openings. Apply the duct tape to keep the fumes within the cavity. The next day/night remove the tape and observe the following day to see if there is any traffic in/out of the openings.
Wasp & hornets are not diggers meaning that they only use the space available and do not tunnel through material. Unlike some bees that do just that.This message has been edited. Last edited by: redoverfarm,
That is something I can try right away. Already have the spray, but spraying the opening only seems to kill a few, and the rest fly right past the dead ones and thumb their noses at me. I'll give the fumes a chance tonight after dark.
Bees can be made more controllable by smoke, which is what I understand beekeepers use to pacify them when the keepers open the hive to get the honey. I'm not sure though whether that would bring them out so you can ensure the opening is free of them. To ensure that is, you may have to do some further work to determine the extent of their colonization.
This article doesn't speak specifically to your questions, but does offer insight on handling bees, which might help to avoid stings when you try to encourage them to vacate your house.
I did find an interesting question on one of the sites I checked. Someone asked other beekeepers if bees were made more calm by smoking them with marijuana. Maybe they were happier or more like in a stupor. Who knows?
If you want to hire a beekeeper, this article may help:
Bee removal by beekeeprs
(Skip down to "Removing established colonies..." It also addresses removal with a vacuum cleaner, which a woman I know actually did when she had a large infestation inside her home.
There's also another question re eradication of bees in the post titled "Hope this is the right place", in the Outdoor Projects section of the Home Improvement Forum.
Different level of infestation, but there might be some links that are helpful.
Redoverfarm, I tried your suggestion after midnight last night. I'm heading over to the property in another hour, so I'll see what's happening and give an update later this evening or tomorrow morning. Some of the pesticide ran back out of the opening, so I had to deal with that to get a good seal with the duct tape - hope it worked.
Thanks to garden sprite (and frodo too) for the bee-links. I followed each, read most, and bookmarked some for this eve. The whole idea of removing the hive scares me. I am on a very tight budget. The bees are nesting inside the brick wall of a duplex, and behind that wall is an interior kitchen wall completely covered with cabinetry, countertop, and kitchen sink. I don't see removal as an option, and am very worried now about this aspect. I first noticed the bees in early August. Not sure how quickly they build. Some words of comfort would be nice....
I'd like to find the guy who built the duplex and left the opening.
best solution is to find a local beekeeper, and they will come out and take the bees away with them to live and work another day. yellow pages, call the extention service, try googling beekepers association (statename), or ask at a garden center. some police forces have been notified by the local beekeepers to call them before killing.
bees are an endangered resource. it takes years to get them back in an area. but you surely do NOT want them in a wall.
try and identify the type of bee by color, size and shape. for instance, carpenter bees (mostly yellow with black behinds) are solitary and readily attack. taking one out is about the only way to take care of them. bumble or honey bees, on the other hand, are nice peaceful little pollinators, and easily removed.This message has been edited. Last edited by: swschrad,
sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Ldrylie, Swschrad just posted exactly what I was going to suggest.
There are sites that show photos of bees; first I would try to identify yours.
Here are a few:
Bumble bee ID
This site has links to several other kinds of bees, including ones I've never heard of (oil-collecting, sweat and yellow faced bees).
Bee identification, for specific locations
I think the last source might be the best. If that doesn't help, Google Bee Identification. I may have posted a link to a bee forum in the post I referenced. Those folks could probably quickly ID your bees.
Goodgle hits for bee forums
If you have a local agricultural extension service and can capture a bee in a container, they might also help. There may be a charge, though.
Once you know what species the bee is, you'll have a better idea what to tell any beekeeper who might be willing to remove the hive. They have the head and body covering to do so safely.
Unless they're Africanized bees, it's worth it to try to save them. If they are African bees, I'd plug the hole with a rag saturated with bleach. That should kill them. If you smell bleach in the kitchen you know the bees have moved beyond the hole.
I believe that bees also hibernate. In Michigan, I once saw large bumblebees going in and out of a hole in my garden in the late fall. I presume they were hibernating underground, although I never knew that would be a choice for them.
As to words of comfort...
1. At least, to your knowledge, they're not colonizing in the house.
2. Hopefully they're not Africanized bees. If they are, since they're invasive and threatening, the local wildlife authorities may offer some assistance. Removal of these beasties is not for amateurs like us. Check with your state to see if there's a department such as the Department of Natural Resources.
3. You haven't been stung yet (I assume). That's generally a good sign.
4. It could always be worse. I've had 2 infestations of yellow jackets, one which started when they found a little hole in the stuff that seals the A/C hose. They got inside and built a large nest over the freezer before I discovered them.
Another bunch got in through a gap in exterior windows and took up residence between the inner and outer windows. I didn't dare even think of removal until the cold weather came and they went elsewhere. And fortunately never returned.This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
From Garden Sprite's charts my best guess is yellow jacket, but they don't look that diff on the chart from the honeybee. (Thanks for the words of comfort by the way.) I am a treehugger - literally love trees of all kinds - but I have no love for bugs of any kind, especially when they invade my home. So the bees have to go. Swschrad mentioned they are easily removed, but that's not what I'm reading when I follow the links provided here. From a logical perspective, there is no quick or inexpensive way to open the wall and then get right back to normal so someone can live there. I'm hurting now to get a tenant in to help defray costs.
No offense to the bee-lovers, but I tried redoverfarm's suggestion with some encouraging results: Last evening at sunset I found 20 or so bees hovering outside the duct-taped hole and looking for other ways inside. When I pulled back the duct tape, there were maybe 100-150 amassed at the hole and on the duct tape, either dead or very slow-moving. I used more spray to finish the job, then later after dark I sucked them up with a shopvac, and repeated the process for one more night to see if there are any more, so I'll know more when I check it out at dusk.
Later yesterday evening I found about 6 in the basement laundry room where I was working. They were very subdued and easy to vacuum up, though it was a little scary to think they'd traveled that far. One of the linked webpages said that while they won't fly in the dark, but they will go toward internal lights. I couldn't see exactly where they were coming into the room. I think I will enter very carefully this afternoon when I head over there.
Thanks to redoverfarm for the suggestion, and to everyone for all the helpful tips and information. I will post again tonight or tomorrow to let you know whether things are better or worse.
If you do have yellow jackets, be comforted in knowing that you're killing insects which are very vicious and attack en masse. These are what stung me - 26 of them one time. At least that was the number of bites I counted.
They're a little bit longer and generally more slender than bees, but are very aggressive and don't like to be disturbed. They apparently also sting "in formation"; one of the times they left a V shaped, painful red wedge.
Get rid of them with no regrets.
100 -150 insects is a LOT of insects.
The friend who sucked up her bees with a vacuum found that they began producing decomposing odors in a day or so, so you might keep that in mind if an unpleasant odor begins to emanate from your shop vac.
Thanks for the update. I'm copying Redoverfarm's post in case I have any trouble with yellow jackets or wasps in the future.
If it's any consolation, it is easier to exterminate them if they're in an internal space, than if they're nesting outdoors and can escape easily.
Now that you have some dead ones, you could try to ID them either at a forum or agricultural center just to confirm what you've got.
Good luck, and stay careful.This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
These are "yellow jackets" and their nest. If you go to the photo and tap on the photo and magnify you can get a better look. I can tolerate them better if I see the nest above ground. Painful when they burrow in the ground and you mow over them.
http://i220.photobucket.com/al...plans/IMG_0882-1.jpgThis message has been edited. Last edited by: redoverfarm,
Definitely in Tennessee and definitely know the average dimensions of brick.
Point taken, Jaybee.
Redoverfarm, you may want to consider turbo-charging that lawn mower. Yikes. I'm surprised to see bees hive in such an open location as a rain gutter. These kind of look like mine. I will gather up some of the deceased bees and post a picture here for opinions (might still visit the Penn State ext as well). We had drenching rains yesterday, so I didn't do much but look on. After the second round of hornet spray I found maybe 50-60 more dead at the entrance when I removed the duct tape. Also, despite the rain, I found a dozen or so hovering again, looking for another way in. This led me to believe that I need to re-caulk around the window above it sooner rather than later (everything needs attention!). So far, no more bees in the interior.
Also, I received info yesterday about weephole inserts. I reached a website for weephole inserts courtesy of redoverfarm in the very first response to this post. The link from the masonry site didn't work, but I found the site by googling: http://www.bugoutweepholes.com/about.html. This seemed like a perfect solution, since ventilation is maintained, and a door allows pests to leave but not return. In a recent response to my inquiry, I discovered they only make one size (1 1/8" by 3 1/2"), and the rep - suggesting I install 2 side-by-side - specifically said the bees would NOT be able to leave, so I should first make sure they are all gone. Since this contradicted their website I asked for clarification, and they sort of brushed me off w/o answering, saying they couldn't help me since the holes were too large. Too bad, as it’s a great idea. So I'm back to the screen/silicone idea, IF I can get completely rid of the bees.
Here are some of my bees. These few were attached to the duct tape. It seems I'm getting a few less each day (there were about 30 or so dead when I looked this evening), and so far only one more caught in the interior.
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