Bees and Cleaning Gutters in the Fall
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Gutter Covers are an important solution to cleaning gutters especially if you have an allergy to bee stings. Cleaning gutters and allergies to bees--especially in the Fall--don't go together for two basic reasons.

First, bees live in gutters and eaves and usually in the fall when you're likely to be cleaning gutters bees are very territorial. They will attack at the least provocation. Second, if you're allergic to bees, you most likely have a fear of bees and that will only make it easier for you to fall from a ladder once surprised by the presence of a bee.

There are three basic types of bees that live in or around gutters:
     1. wasps.
     2. yellow jackets.
     3. mud wasp

The irony is that with wasp the danger only exists near the end of summer and through the fall. In the spring and early summer, the nest is in the process of being built before the wasp becomes  territorial. This means that you can easily work around them without them disturbing you. It's only in late summer and fall that they are territorial and will attack if disturbed. Their nest is a paper comb like structure.

Yellow jackets, on the other hand, are always a threat. Fortunately they are not as prevalent as wasps are in gutters. The yellow jacket usually makes their nest in crevices and are not easily seen as opposed to wasps that make their nests right under shingles or the underside of gutter covers.

Mud wasps aren't that often encountered and to my knowledge never attack. Called mud wasps because the nest looks like a mound of mud with an opening. The nests are never large and to my knowledge only house one wasp.

The best solution is to use a gutter cover so that you'll never have to deal with ladders, allergies, and bees. However, you need to choose a gutter guard that will keep you off ladders. In other words if you choose the wrong leaf guard, you'll still have to deal with clogging gutters.

There are several types of gutter guards and leaf guards. The one most commonly used is a screening device--can be a basic screen made of expanded metal or plastic with openings to allow in the water and screen out the debris. Newer screens are called filters and made of fine mesh that is so small it keeps out coffee grounds--not that it rains coffee grounds but they keep out roof grit. Then there are brushes and foams that get installed inside the gutter.

Screens and brushes are usually a DIYI project and will require routine maintenance--not a solution for someone allergic to bees.

The foam and filter mesh types are professionally installed. In light debris conditions, they may work well. However in heavy debris conditions, they require maintenance by the installing company.

Other types of professionally installed gutter guards and leaf guards are the solid top variety.

First there is the single fin variety as you'll find if you Google Niagara gutter cover. It's the least effective of all solid type gutter guards. The benefits over filters and screens is that it serves as a flashing and protects the fascia board. It is the best gutter guard recommended for light debris conditions and will be basically maintenance free for such applications.

Next there's a single fin type with a row of louvers such as if you Google "Care-Free Gutter guard." In medium tree debris conditions this will be the best gutter cover and be a maintenance free system. Obviously costs a bit more than the Niagara Gutter Guard.

For heavy debris conditions, the best leaf guard is the double row louvered system. Google "Waterloov gutter guards" and you'll find the top of the line product. Recent tests by Consumer Reports as reported in their Nov 2010 issue recommends this product.

However, in the heaviest of tree debris conditions, some maintenance is required and this is true of all gutter guards and gutter protection devices. The main difference is that the maintenance can be done from the ground with a telescopic pole and brush. No one ever need to climb a ladder again to maintain gutter guards.

Nevertheless when it comes to bees in the fall, as stated above they are very territorial and will even attack someone on the ground with a telescopic pole and brush assembly. Therefore it's best to perform this task on cloudy drizzly wet days or in the evenings when they are also less active.

The good news is that the double row louvered system is the only product that can be easily maintained from the ground in heavy debris conditions and with a bit of common sense, on the part of the homeowner, he'll be safe from the dangers of bees.


Richard Kuhns B.S.Ch.E. Inventor and Founder of the Waterloov Gutter Gutter Cover Co., manufacturer of self cleaning gutters. To learn more please go to http://www.waterloov.com
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