Removing wasp or bee nests: How to do it animal-friendly

Every year, in spring, the buzzing begins. Bees, wasps, and hornets take over the airspace, and sometimes even parts of your own home, starting from May at the latest. Find out how insect nests can pose a threat to your property, what to consider when removing them, and the associated costs.

19.07.20235min5min

A bee nest located under the roof needs to be removed.

Every year, in spring, the buzzing begins. Bees, wasps, and hornets take over the airspace, and sometimes even parts of your own home, starting from May at the latest. Find out how insect nests can pose a threat to your property, what to consider when removing them, and the associated costs.

Switzerland is home to various species of flying insects, such as bees, wasps, and hornets. They all share one thing: their proverbial diligence, especially when it comes to nest-building. From the beginning of the year until well into autumn, they diligently construct their nests.

Similar to us humans, they also search for suitable nesting places that offer protection from the weather. It is not surprising, therefore, that they choose human dwellings as nesting sites. But are insect nests harmful to humans and houses?

We spoke to David Hablützel from Imkerei Hablützel. He is a beekeeper and an expert in relocating and removing bee, wasp, and hornet colonies. Together, we explain when insect nests can potentially pose a danger to humans and buildings, and we share practical tips for prevention and nest removal.

Can insect nests cause damage to your house?

Between March and May, our striped friends are hard at work building their nests. Bees, wasps, and hornets find their way into almost any opening, with roller shutter boxes, roof windows, cracks in masonry, and gaps under roof tiles being among their favorite nesting spots.

The answer to the question of whether insect nests can cause damage to buildings is unfortunately «yes.» Expert David Hablützel explains, «All three insect species can cause damage to your building. If they nest in cracks or under roof tiles, it can harm the structure and insulation of your property.»

Damage to the house caused by bee nests

«Bees build combs that develop and expand inside the building structures,» David Hablützel explains to us. The spreading of combs in cavities can attack the material of walls, floors, or roofs, weakening or even destroying the building's structure and insulation. If moisture from the combs cannot escape, it creates an ideal environment for mold growth. And as we know, mold is neither healthy for the house nor for humans.

Damage to the house caused by hornet or wasp nests

Wasps and hornets release fluids that gradually decompose building materials, such as wood. Additionally, there is also a risk of mold growth with wasp nests if the fluid released by the insects cannot properly escape. Furthermore, the nest-building activity of wasps can have negative effects on insulation. If wasps incorporate the nest into the insulation material or use it for nest construction, it can damage the insulation and lead to heat loss.

Is removing bee or wasp nests allowed?

Unlike in other European countries, Swiss animal protection laws only apply to vertebrates. Bees, wasps, and hornets, being insects, are not legally protected. However, in general, insect nests should only be removed if they are near individuals with allergies or children, or if the nest-building behavior of the insects could damage the house. Since bees, wasps, and hornets are all essential parts of our ecosystem, we strongly advise against killing them using poisonous substances. The expert explains, «Bees, wild bees, wasps, and hornets are very important for biodiversity and our ecosystem, as different insect species pollinate various plants. Destroying a nest creates a gap in our nature. Additionally, the chemicals used are harmful to humans and the environment.»

Ideally, professionals should ensure a careful relocation of the nest and seal the nesting site afterward. This can help avoid long-term damage and make it more difficult for new colonies to establish themselves. David Hablützel also warns against taking matters into your own hands or sealing the nest entrance. He says, «Aside from it being animal cruelty, it can agitate the insects and literally provoke them to attack. Seek timely help from a professional.»

Having bee or wasp nests removed: 5 Steps

  1. Identify the insect species: Determine the type of insects based on their appearance, color, or the characteristics of the nest. The Federal Office for the Environment website, for example, can help you identify wasp species. Alternatively, you can take a photo of the nest and have it analyzed by experts.

  2. Determine regional responsibilities: The responsibilities for relocating insect colonies may vary from canton to canton. They may lie with the police, fire department, or private organizations. Anther useful contact include is the Association of Swiss Pest Controllers VSS.

  3. Describe your situation: After contacting the relevant authorities, they will provide you with a checklist to fill out, which will help determine the next steps. You can describe your specific situation, provide information about the insects and the nest, and inform the professionals, for example, if there are individuals with allergies in the house.

  4. Assess the situation: Based on the information provided, the experts will evaluate the necessity and urgency of any action and assess the accessibility of the nest. If relocation is not absolutely necessary, alternatives such as insect screens should be considered.

  5. Relocate the nest: If no alternatives can be found, the experts will handle the relocation of the insects. The insects will be gently vacuumed and transported to their new location in a special box. «It sounds more brutal than it is. The insects are unharmed during the process,» assures David Hablützel. The insects, along with their nest and habitat, are carefully released into their new environment under sedation.

How much does removing insect nests cost?

Professional relocation of an insect nest usually costs between CHF 100 and CHF 450. The price depends on the providers in your area, as well as the size and accessibility of the nest. David Hablützel explains, «Of course, it's cheaper to relocate a small nest under a garage roof than a large hornet colony in a chimney.»

It's best to get multiple quotes and compare prices. Additionally, it's advisable to support the experts by providing accurate descriptions of the nest and insect species so that they can estimate the effort and costs more precisely.

Tipp: When choosing a professional service, pay attention to their membership in the Association of Swiss Pest Controllers. This guarantees that the company is federally certified and follows animal-friendly practices.

Can nest building be prevented?

Under the motto «prevention is better than cure," you can reduce the likelihood of nest building through appropriate measures:

  • Be vigilant! Especially in spring, wasp and hornet queens are on the lookout for suitable nesting sites. If you notice them in your garden or near your house, follow them to locate potential nest sites.

  • Seal any openings you notice, starting from the end of January, with soil, mortar, or silicone (only if they are not inhabited). Check for holes in the ground in your garden and cracks in your garden shed, outbuilding, or attic. By securely sealing these openings, you can prevent nest formation.

  • Odors such as citronella and cloves deter many common insects. Spray promising nesting sites with these natural scents to prevent colonization.

  • Do not remove uninhabited, old nests. Insects keep their distance from foreign dwellings, even when they are empty.

Finally, David Hablützel gives us a special tip for dealing with insects: «With small and animal-friendly tricks, you can protect yourself well from insects. For example, before hosting a barbecue party, set up a feeding station at the edge of your garden, far enough away from the dining table. Insects are creatures of habit and will return to places where they know there is food. This way, you can prevent wasps from helping themselves to your food on the table.»