Honey in Your Roof? All About Honey Bee Infestations Below the Shingles

Few people think of honey as a potential problem. It’s sweet, it’s tasty, and it’s associated with pleasant summer evenings and the drone of buzzing bees. However, honey doesn’t seem so sweet if you find it flowing down your drain pipes and staining your walls.

How could you ever find yourself in such a sticky situation, you ask? A honey bee infestation. Honey bees commonly make their homes in roofs and under shingles. Read on to learn more about this annoying invasion, its implications for your roof, and how you can repair the damage.

Why Honey Bees Are Damaging to Your Roof

If bees infest your house by climbing inside your roof or walls, they can leave a stream of destruction in their wake. The weight of the honeycomb they build and the honey itself can cause structural damage to your house. Honey and honeycomb can also stain, or even ruin, your shingles and the tar or felt paper underneath them.

Honey bees don’t simply burrow through a hole in your house and make a nest to fit the space. Rather, the bees will chew up and remove almost anything in their way. This means the bees can attack insulation, chew it up, and take it outside to make room for their nest. You could peel back a section of your roof only to find it full of honeycomb underneath.

Why Honey Bees Infest Your Roof

Honey bee scouts have the duty of finding a good place for their colony to build a nest. They look for dark, deep spaces protected from intruders and predators. They like to have an easily defended opening that leads into a larger space of about 4-9 gallons. These requirements are easily met by spaces like hollowed-out trees, crevices in rocks and, unfortunately, your roof and walls. The bees appreciate the darkness, the depth, and the ease of access they have when they choose to live inside your house.

When Honey Bees Get Into Your Roof

As previously mentioned, honey bees get into your roof when scout bees decide it would make a good home for the colony. Scout bees look for new nesting places during the bees’ swarm season. This season is usually from around mid-March to early July.

During swarm season, bee colonies that have grown too big split into two separate entities, and one of them goes off to look for a new place to nest. While the scout bees look for suitable living quarters, the rest of the colony hangs out in a “swarm”, usually on a tree limb, fence, or similar place.

If the scout bees find a good place for a nest, they go back to their colony and report the good news. Then, the entire colony follows them and worker bees get to work chewing wax and forming honeycomb to construct a nest.

How Honey Bees Get Into Your Roof

Remember that, as the scout bees look for a new colony home, they want a deep dark space with an easily-defended entrance. When they decide to nest in your roof, it’s because they found a hole through which the bees can move in and out, and an empty cavity in which to build their nest.

Bees only need a hole an eighth of an inch wide in order to access your roof and start making honeycomb. You can commonly find these entrances in roof overhangs, where different siding materials overlap, and through holes in between bricks. Bees do not generally burrow, so they have to find an existing hole in order to make a home in your roof.

Signs of a Honey Bee Infestation

The most obvious sign of a honey bee infestation is if you hear buzzing inside your roof or walls. You might also notice a lot of bee activity outside your house. If you see more bees than usual zooming around your yard and coming to and from your roof, you could have an infestation.

A bigger sign of a problem is if you notice dark spots of sticky honey leaking through your walls or drizzling down your drain pipes.

How to Prevent a Honey Bee Infestation

The best way to prevent honey bees from invading your roof is by making sure there aren’t any cracks or holes for them to get in through. Call a roofing contractor to inspect your roof annually and check for common problems and obvious entry points.

How to Clean Up After a Honey Bee Infestation

To get the honey bees out of your roof, you’ll need to call a beekeeper who can lure the bees away and use them in his or her own colony. Once the bees themselves are gone, it’s time to face the mess. If your roof has sustained any damage from the honey or honeycomb, call in an experienced roofer to fix up your property and replace shingles if necessary.

A honey bee infestation can disrupt your life and ruin your roof. For help with roof repairs and cleanups after the bees have left, locate a roofing company in your area.