So, you have bees in your chimney. And you need to get rid of them. Fast.
You’re probably afraid of a bee getting into your home. While you’re sleeping.
Or you’re tired of the buzzing.
Or maybe you’ve read that beeswax can melt and light your house on fire (it’s true).
Bees have their place in nature and are responsible for 80% of all pollination of crops. So they’re a godsend.
But once place we don’t want ‘em is in our house, nor our chimney.
In this article, we’ll cover these topics:
- Why you have bees down your chimney
- Various methods you can utilize to get rid of them
- How to stop bees from coming back to your chimney stack
- And more
As always, if you have acquisitions, drop me a comment at the end of the page!
Sound good? Let’s send bees back to where they belong.
Bee removal is a dangerous practice and not something you can easily do on your own.
You MUST use a certified beekeeper’s outfit and have all the proper equipment for working on the roof and inside your chimney.
Even with proper equipment, you still may not have the experience or knowledge to safely remove bees from the chimney.
Thus, you should ALWAYS consult a professional for advice, even if you decide to do it yourself (including any of the methods outlined here). Many bee removal services offer a free quote or professional advice when they examine your bee infestation.
Ask them questions and be friendly. Their advice is worth a ton.
This material is for educational purposes only and I recommend getting a professional to either remove the nest or help you safely do any of the techniques listed here. Proceed at your own risk.
You MUST seek advice from a professional before proceeding.
Why are bees coming down my chimney?
There really is no specific reason that draws bees to come down the chimney other than the fact that your chimney provides a favorable environment for them to live in.
A topper provides an area that’s high, away from predators, and offers sticky material for them to easily climb on and build a nest.
Some bees will build their hive inside your stack, others will build it outside. The stack offers a safe and sheltered place to shield them from the elements. They can then produce their honey safely.
Bees vs. wasps vs. hornets vs. yellow jackets
If you’re ever confused about what you’re dealing with, chances are that you’re trying to discern from a bee, wasp, or hornet.
You should note that a bee is a bee, but a yellow jacket and hornet are both parts of the same wasp family (Vespidae). So technically it’s just bees vs. wasps.
Here are some quick tips on identifying the differences between them all.
- Bees have fuzzy bodies and legs.
- Bees have flat legs that are extended and wide.
- Bees have round abdomens and thoraxes (neck area).
- Able to sting only once.
Wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets
- Wasps have smooth bodies and legs.
- Wasps have cylindrical abdomens.
- Wasps have round legs.
- Wasps have waxy legs.
- Wasps have an hourglass figure.
- Wasps have two pairs of wings.
- Able to sting over and over again.
What’s that bee?
Some of the most common bees that build nests in household structures are:
- Carpenter bees (commonly called black bees)
- American bumblebees (commonly called red-tailed bumblebees)
- Mortar bees
- Western honey bee
- Long-horned bees
- Digger bees
- Mining bees
- Leafcutter bees
- Mason bees
- Blue orchard bee
- Sweat bees
- Polyester bees
Can bees start a fire?
Yes, bees can start a fire if you’re not careful.
The main concern is the beeswax, which is highly flammable and can start a fire in the chimney stack. This is why bees hovering around in your stack can be a fire hazard.
Beeswax can lead to a chimney explosion if you’re aware that there’s a bees nest and bees have been producing beeswax for quite some time. If you haven’t used your fireplace, you should ALWAYS do the proper inspections before turning it on again.
This applies to both electric and gas fireplaces or even older built-in fireplaces that use plain firelogs (wood can also be an attractant to bees).
The melting hot was can destroy your home’s brick masonry and grout, which can cause damage over time.
How long will bees stay in the chimney?
Bees will stay in your chimney until their colony life cycle is completed.
They’ve likely formed a nest somewhere inside or outside your chimney stack and will rear new queens if mating is successful.
The queens leave the nest and hibernate inside the soil for the winter and emerge the following spring. The rest of the worker bees are killed during the winter from malnutrition and no flower nectar to extract (since flowers don’t bloom in the winter).
The queens then scatter and make nests of their own. They don’t return to the same nest. So once the bees are gone, they don’t come back. The hive they leave behind remains abandoned.
Bees will stay in your chimney only until the wintertime.
After that, you’ll have an empty hive stuck in your home.
Can you leave bees in the chimney?
That depends if you want to use your fireplace. Starting a fire when there’s beeswax present is a fire hazard. Melting wax can also eat through your home’s masonry and cause permanent damage.
You may also trigger an explosion if you start a fire in your fireplace and there’s a ton of beeswax within the stack. Thus, it depends on your situation.
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However, if you don’t plan to use the fireplace, you can safely leave bees in the chimney provided that you’ve sealed them off from entering your home.
They should leave by themselves when winter approaches and the ambient temperatures drop.
Should I be worried about bees in the chimney stack?
Yes, if you don’t do anything about it, the beeswax and honey can seep into your home’s masonry and cause mold, odor, and rot your bricks.
This will also be an attractant for other pests to come and feast on it such as bee moths, wax worms, and ants. If you decide to wait until winter so the bees will go away by themselves, you risk a possible fire hazard when you use your fireplace as the material deposits are flammable.
You also risk permanently damaging your home.
How to check for bees in the chimney
It’s pretty obvious if you have bees in your stack, even if they build their nest inside the chimney. You’ll see some common signs, especially dead bees around the area or constant activity of bees entering and exiting your chute.
Some signs of bees in the chimney:
- Visible bees entering or exiting the stack
- Bees in the house
- Sudden activity of bees in your yard or around the home
- Honey or beeswax buildup
- Dead bees in the fireplace
- Residue deposits around the chimney top
Can they come into the house?
Yes, if they get past your smoke shelf and damper, bees can enter your home.
During the winter, bees will start to become weak. If any fall down from the hive into your fireplace, they can then fly around into your home. If you or anyone else has allergies, this should be taken seriously.
Bees are most active during the march to October during the hottest parts of the day.
How to get rid of bees in the chimney
Here we’ll cover some common methods you can do at home. Although most bee removal must be done by a professional, there are some DIY home remedies you can try before you spend the money to hire one.
These natural methods work best for smaller bee nests in your chimney stack. Remember to always use the proper equipment before dealing with bees (and common sense). Consult a professional exterminator if you’re in doubt.
Bees in your direct vent above your fireplace, chimney stack, or even your smoke shelf are all best handled by a pro.
Consult a professional bee removal company
You should never try to do anything yourself without the advice or assistance of a licensed bee removal company or beekeeper. Trying to get rid of the hive by yourself is dangerous in many different ways- you can fall from the roof or get stung by a bee.
There are many unknown variables at play and the typical homeowner has little-to-no experience in bee removal. Consult a professional and get advice or hire them to remove your beehive.
At this point, over 80% of beehives in some states are considered to be African bees. You need to be extra careful as African bees are no joke. Thus, you should leave the job to the removal companies.
As soon as you notice bees buzzing in and out of your chimney, you should consult an expert. The longer you wait, the harder it is to clean up the problem.
Chimneys are prone to bee infestations and if you have Africanized ones, this just makes them even more dangerous.
Don’t move the hive towards your fireplace
In other words, never move the hive into your chimney.
If you plan to move it, move it UP. Not DOWN.
The reason is that most chimneys have a smoke shelf, which can block the hive from going all the way down to your fireplace for removal. If it gets stuck on the smoke shelf, you’ll have a mess of honey, beeswax, and dead bees to clean up.
This is VERY difficult to clean and will require you to partially remove masonry from your entire chimney to purge.
Not to mention that it also poses a huge fire hazard being so close to the flame. If you accidentally drop or push the hive closer down the chute, stop and get a professional. Any bee removal company that’s reputable should know this already.
And if you consulted them for advice, you should know this beforehand.
Use your fireplace to smoke them out
For bees beginning to hover around your chute, you can start a fire in your fireplace to discourage them from building a nest.
However, this is important you first establish that there is NO NEST present.
If even the slightest nest beginnings are already built, starting your fireplace can melt the beeswax and honey which poses a fire hazard.
It also makes the wax residue spread down your masonry and seep into the brick and mortar, which makes it nearly impossible to sterilize without tearing down your entire stack!
The residue stuck on your walls attracts queen bees in the future because of the pheromones left behind. And they also destroy brick and building materials as well as pose a fire hazard because they’re flammable!
The wax or hive can also clog your chimney and force smoke into your home.
So do NOT start a fire in your fireplace if you suspect a beehive has already been built. When in doubt, call a professional.
Use a chimney balloon
This is a flexible balloon that you can buy at your local hardware store. It’s basically like a flexible stopper that goes directly into your chimney stack that helps block drafts, cold air, pests, animals, and bees from coming into your home.
Some chimneys that have broken or warped dampers can benefit from a chimney balloon.
They help insulate fireplaces to save on energy bills and the efficiency of heat dispersal throughout your home. And they help keep bees out of your stack.
That’s just another benefit. This will stop them from getting into your house, but doesn’t prevent the source of the problem- the nest will still be there and bees will still breed and feed.
But it’s a quick and easy solution to keep bees out of your chimney. Depending on where you live, chimney balloons may not be a possible solution. Consult with your local laws first.
Bees will leave the hive when winter approaches.
The queens will burrow in the soil to overwinter until spring. The worker bees are killed by cold weather and food availability.
After the winter, the queen bees don’t return to the same hive in your chimney and will form their own. Thus, you can safely plug your chimney to prevent them from eating your house and keep them out.
They’ll leave and abandon their old nest behind. You can hire a professional to remove the empty nest.
The only problem with this passive approach is that you risk damaging the masonry from the honey and beeswax.
The sticky residue seeps into your home’s bricks and walls and can attract ants and flying critters. You also risk fires burning up the residue deposited from the bee activity.
Dead bees, hive chippings, and bee droppings can also burn. If a single spark makes it to the nest or any residues, you can potentially start a fire. Wax buildup can also be explosive.
Therefore, you should consider getting your entire chimney inspected and cleaned after the bees leave before you use it again. While doing nothing may be easy, it’ll cost you in the long run.
What smells do bees hate?
Bees are generally attracted to sweet scents such as laundry softener, deodorant, lotion, perfume, hair shampoo, candy, food, and more.
They’re wired to be attracted to these scents because they match the profile of flower nectar and blooms, which is their source of energy.
Bees eat pollen and nectar, both of which are consumed from flowers. So when they smell some other sweet thing that’s similar, they can’t help but be drawn to them.
Thus, you can keep bees away naturally by using scents that repel them and keep bees away from your chimney.
Essential oils come to mind, specifically eucalyptus, mint, citrus, and peppermint oils. These are powerful scents that you can use to keep bees away naturally without harsh residues.
Very useful around window sills, patio doors, and the picnic table. If you need to use essential oils for your fireplace, note that they’re flammable and you should never put any oils within the chimney stack. Instead, use them a safe distance away from the fireplace to help keep bees from entering your home through the chimney.
You can also use white pine, vinegar, catnip, and apple cider vinegar. Bleach also seems to work. Be sure to keep all liquids and oils away from flammable sources, like your fireplace.
Can you smoke bees out of a chimney?
While it’s possible to get rid of bees by smoking them out, this only applies in the beginning before a hive is established.
And this is the only time when it’s actually possible to discourage them from building a nest.
If you do it even when the smallest nest has been built, you’re risking:
- Smoke buildup into your home because of a blocked chimney
- Damaging your chimney masonry from honey and wax residue
- Fire hazard for flammable organic materials
- Seeping wax into your chimney and locking pheromones into the walls, which attract future bees
What about smoke bombs?
The same rules apply. You should never use them after the nest has been built.
But If you can safely use a smoker BEFORE any bees establish their hive, you may be able to discourage them from ever building one.
How do I keep bees out of my chimney?
Here are some methods to prevent bees from coming back into your chimney. There is no single solution and you’ll want to see what works best for your situation.
Consult a professional before attempting any installation or if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Bee proof chimney cap
There are chimney caps made just for keeping small pests like bees, wasps, birds, mosquitoes, and other pests out of your home.
Consider having one of these chimney stack caps professionally installed to prevent future bees from building another hive. Even if they build one directly on your stack, they still can’t get inside your chimney.
Though, you’ll want to ensure that the beeswax is also kept out as it can pose a fire hazard if left unmaintained. Remember, beeswax is FLAMMABLE.
There are different regulations depending on where you live, so make sure your local laws allow for this.
Add protective screening
You can buy chimney screening as a barrier to keep bees out. This helps prevent bees from coming back into your chimney in the future.
Be sure to buy screening that’s fine enough. This will stop bees and other smaller pests from getting stuck in the first place.
Netting as small as ¼” should be the max range, but that’s the maximum area on the grid. Shoot for something smaller as smaller bees still make it through the screen. Make sure it’s made for chimneys and fireproof. Many pest control companies will actually install a bee proof screen cover over your flue.
Depending on the state you live in, there will be different requirements for building codes and spark arrestor sizing.
You’ll have to consult with your local regulations before adding any cover, balloon, or any other type of obstruction. Window screening can NOT be used as it’ll create smoke exhaust problems and damage to your home.
Regularly clean your chimney
Routine maintenance is very important to keep your chimney free of debris and build up from the outdoors.
Not only does this reduce the risk of a fire, it also helps keep your home’s HVAC efficient by allowing for proper air exchange.
This will also keep bugs and birds out of the chimney area as they may feed on grime, bacteria, or buildup over time. Critters and animals will also be repelled as they have nothing to eat.
They’re common on single-story homes or homes in dense or forested areas with branching paths that act as bridges to your rooftop and chimney stack, which leads us to the next point.
You can hire a professional cleaner to do this for you safely. The service is typically called a chimney sweep and your chimney sterilization.
Prune nearby trees and foliage
You can prune nearby trees that act as bridges to your rooftop or chimney access. This will help stop animals from getting to your stack.
Although this doesn’t really stop bees since they fly, this may help stop animals from depositing food for bees to easily build a nest out of it in the first place. Eliminate attractants completely.
Use a chimney damper
A chimney damper, also known as a top-sealing damper, is a device added to the top of your chimney stack.
Traditional dampers are usually installed at the bottom of the chimney which locks the flue from the internal stack. The problem with traditional dampers is that it doesn’t protect the top and allows bees and other pests to enter.
A top-sealing damper sits at the top, right at the entrance on the stack and seals up the entry point from pests.
Think of it like a chimney cap filter- only the smallest insects can enter, but bees are kept out. It’s usually a flat fireproof steel plate that’s located inside the cap.
The plate has springs that release a cable dropping down the chute into the firebox with a secure mount on the walls.
Pulling on the cable seals the locking plate against a rope gasket. These dampers can be added to old school fireplaces, but artificial gas or electric fireplaces can’t have top-sealing dampers. The material must also be masonry brick.
If the bees are entering through the top of the chimney, then a damper may be a solution. But if they’re getting in through any other means, a damper will be useless as it requires a fully-sealed chimney with no cracks.
Any damper is a balance between useability, bee prevention, and following building code compliance.
If you have any of these chimney damages, a top-sealing damper won’t work:
- Mortar damage
- Destroyed or warped bricks
- Missing bricks
- Chipped bricks or mortar
- Cracks in the brick masonry or layering
You need a chute in good conditions without any damage for the damper to actually work correctly. In other words, the only entry point must be at the chimney top without any other cracks.
What’s the point of sealing the top when the bees can get in through the sides? Get it?
A damper will also require a hole to be created in the chute or chase to remove the beehive first. Then professional sterilization will need to be administered. After that, the missing bricks are sealed back up.
Some companies will offer complete services, but typically, this is the process:
- A thorough inspection of your chimney and beehive location is performed
- Bricks are removed to eradicate the beehive
- The chimney bricks are fixed
- The entire chimney is cleaned and sterilized to remove any beeswax, honey, bees, and pheromones
- The damper is added to the top
These chimneys are not compatible with top-sealing dampers:
- Prefab fireplaces
- Freestanding stoves
- Stove ovens
- Stove inserts
- Artificial gas logs
- Log lighters
But if you have a traditional masonry fireplace, you can consider having a top-sealing damper added to keep bees out permanently.
They’re one of the best solutions out there but will require a hefty cost.
Consult with installers around your area and get some quotes. Most bees will be kept out, but some aggressive bees can actually destroy the gasket of the damper or make it through the plate by sniffing out small cracks and crevices. African bees are one example.
Attract bee predators
You can attract natural predators that eat bees to your yard to help minimize the population and chance of them establishing a nest in your home.
Depending on where you live, the list of predators that eat bees varies.
You should find one that’s native to your area. Then you should research techniques to attract more of that species.
Here’s a list of the most common bee-eaters:
If you’re in a forested area, you may already have some of these predators native to your area. Find out how to attract them to your yard safely to help control the bee population.
Because bees sting, not many animals are willing to eat them. But there are few tough-skinned predators that’ll grab and eat ‘em up like candy.
Make a bee killer spray
If you need to kill bees, there’s no need to use harmful poison. You can make your own DIY spray at home by mixing one part dish soap to three parts water.
The soapy water will kill bees and doesn’t leave nearly as much harmful residues behind as some store-bought commercial brands. Soapy water kills bees quickly.
You can also mix a drop of peppermint oil, cinnamon, oil, or tea tree oil with 1 cup of baby shampoo. This spray will kill bees upon contact.
Make your home less attractive to bees
Bees are attracted to pollen and nectar from brightly colored flowers.
This is their main source of food and energy, and they have very poor distinguishing skills from other objects. This is why people who wear bright clothing get bees landing on them outdoors all the time.
You can make your home a natural bee deterrent by doing the following.
Plant foliage that bees can’t eat
There are many different plants that you can grow that naturally repel bees. If you’re a fan of colorful flowers, don’t worry.
You don’t have to give them up just because you have been nearby. A lot of blooming plants naturally are detested by bees.
Here are a few plants you can grow that bees hate:
- Evergreen shrubs
- Carnivorous plants
You can check out this list of bee repellent plants.
You can replace your current plants with these, or just companion plants.
This should make your overall yard definitely less of an attractant, which will reduce the chance of a bee getting into your chute.
Maintain your home
Some homes already have screens, filters, or dampers to keep pests out.
But over time, damage from rain, rust, erosion, and using the fireplace will wear and tear these materials. If you’ve never had your chimney professionally inspected, you should.
There may be an entry point that bugs can use to get in, or a screen that’s damaged. It only takes a single entry point for a queen bee to start a nest, so keeping your home in tip-top shape is critical.
You should also practice the following maintain routines:
- Drain gutters and remove debris
- Fix any damaged foundation cracks
- Seal up any holes or crevices around the chimney stack
- Fix damaged roofing
- Remove all clutter from your yard
- Have your roof and chimney professionally cleaned and sterilized
- Keep your plants and trees pruned
- Destroy any excess plants
- Pick up leaf clippings
- Don’t overwater and don’t overfertilize
- Make sure drains and gutters are working properly
- Maintain pools and ponds and any other water features
Free bee removal
Believe it or not, there are some companies that offer “free” bee removal.
Typically, they’re doing their part by saving these bees and relocating them as bees are responsible for up to 80% of the world’s crop supply.
Do some research and see if any services exist in your area. Be sure that they don’t charge a “consultation” fee or some other gimmick.
There are some companies that will remove bees for free or nearby beekeepers that will do it for you. This is worth a try if you’re unsure of how to get rid of them.
Call the beekeeper or bee removal company and ask them questions:
- Who they are
- What their company does
- Are they nonprofit?
- What do they do with the beehive?
- Do they kill the bees or relocate them?
- How long have they been doing this?
- Do they repair chimney damage?
- Do they sterilize wax or honey?
Who can I call to remove a beehive?
You can contact your local pest control company, local beekeepers, or bee nonprofit organizations.
Typically, many nonprofits or hobbyists will relocate the hive for free or a small charge. However, if the nest is stuck on your chimney, that requires a professional.
How much does it cost to remove bees from the chimney?
The average cost to remove beehives from your home ranges from $100-$200 depending on your location and the availably of contracts. Jobs that require more intensive labor can range from $2000 to $4000.
Do bees come back to the same nest?
Once a hive is abandoned, queen bees start their own nest in the spring. However, bees do leave behind a special pheromone scent that can attract future bees.
This is why you need to have your chimney professional cleaned thoroughly to remove any honey, beeswax, and pheromones deposits in your stack. If you don’t, bees buzzing around next spring may just choose your chimney to establish another hive again.
Pheromones are difficult to remove and will require sanitization and sterilization of the flue lining to completely get rid of the scent.
How do I permanently get rid of bees?
You can use a few of the methods listed here to get rid of bees and prevent them from coming back.
The most trusted ones that have a high chance of keeping these honeysuckers away are:
- Install a damper top
- Use bee screening on the chimney stack
- Consider using a chimney balloon
However, you can use a variety of other less costly techniques, like essential oils, attracting predators of bees, or just making your home less attractive to them.
Bees building nests in your chimney stack only exist because they found their way into your yard in the first place. That means you have something nearby that’s attracting them.
How do I get rid of bees in my house?
Bees that make their way into your home can be scary.
After all, they’re armed. The easiest way would be to open your windows and doors and hope that it leaves your home by itself. If you try to swat it, you can miss and have it end up stinging you.
You should also eliminate it ASAP because if you ignore the bee, it’ll buzz around and you may eventually have it on your shoulders waiting for you. Or you may accidentally step on it.
If it’s daytime, shut off your lights and blinds to make it dark. Then open your door so the bee is attracted to the outdoor sunshine and flies out.
If it’s night, turn on your porchlight to lure the bee outdoors.
Bees are attracted to light and will likely leave your home. If you really can’t get it to escape and can’t trap or kill the bee safely, protect yourself and wait it out.
Or call animal control. A bee can be extremely dangerous to allergic or sensitive individuals.
Here are some additional resources you may find handy:
Did you get rid of the bees in your chimney?
You should now have a solid foundation to get started on your journey to ride these bees.
They’re truly a wonderful species, but sometimes wander to the wrong place. So they need to be relocated elsewhere.
You should have the knowledge about various methods you can try to remove the bees and stop them from coming back.
If you have any questions about bees, leave a comment below. Or if you have any bee stopping tips, share your words of wisdom with fellow readers!
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.