University of Maryland Extension

Honey Bees

honey bee closeup
Honey bee
Photo: David Cappaert,

Key Points

  • Honey bees are 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch long, orangish-brown and fuzzy.
  • They are social insects and live in large colonies.
  • Honey bees are not aggressive and will only sting to defend themselves. 
  • Honey bee populations have been under siege for many years. Colony collapse disorder (sudden colony death) research is ongoing. Varroa mite (a pest of honey bees), diseases, loss of habitat and nectar plants, and pesticides all play a part in the decline. Populations should be protected. Do not use pesticides and plant native and bee-friendly plants.

    honey bee swarm
    Honey bee swarm


  • If a swarm of honey bees is found, call or email a local beekeeper. Most will come and remove the swarm.
    Look on the Maryland State Beekeepers Association, Inc. website. 

  • Few beekeepers will retrieve honey bees nesting in a wall void of a home or other building. In that case, a professional pest control company should be consulted. If the bees are killed and the nest is not removed, the wax and honey will melt inside of the wall. The honey may seep through plaster walls, there will be a strong odor from the honey and dead bees, and this debris will attract other insects and mice.

Additional Resource

Rev. 2020

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