How to Get Rid of Bees is a question I get a lot. My company, filmed by the Discovery Channel doing a bee removal shown above, and I have tackled a lot of bees, all kinds of bees, to move them either safely to a new location, or eliminate them so you do not have other problems arise. Bee removal is an art in itself. Working with bees you plan to get stung once maybe twice, but a bee removal, if not ready, you will be falling from the ladder rolling on the ground in pain from more than just a few hundred bee stings. There are steps involved that one needs to take just like any part of beekeeping. If you are feeding, you switch from smoke to sugar water to calm the bees, when you take honey you put on crappy cologne on perfume to throw them off your scent. When removing bees you need good protection and a bee vac. If you plan to kill them, you need good ventilation and the proper insecticide. There is always the right tool for the right job, or a good wing nut to try anything.
First, you need to see whether you're actually dealing with honey bees and not some other stinging insect. A good pest control like Orkin will tell you that a beekeeper needs to come to see if they are honey bees or not and if they can be saved. Some state laws and foreign countries say that honey bees are an agricultural business and if at all possible, they need to be removed and not killed. How it was explained in Denmark is that if my cow leaves my land do not shoot it, help me catch it. Made some sense, I guess, I never branded a bee, but if you want to mark your bees, be my guest. All of my bees are free range bees so I cannot say if they are mine or yours.
Wasps, hornets, and yellow-jackets are just some of the nastier insects that sometimes are mistaken for bees. It's important to get the type of insect right, as the manner in which they need to be dealt with will matter for safety purposes; some are happy to let wasp colonies grow larger on their properties, while a small bee colony may be something that can be managed around.
When checking what insects you're dealing with, do so with great care––a bee colony typically contains anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 bees or more. And, if it's not bees, you could be dealing with wasps or hornets and they are easily riled and can sting more than one time. Exercise extreme caution when attempting to gather more information about the particular insects. If the bees are a brownish orange color and have fuzzy bodies, they are honeybees.
So this goes into the first phase of bee removal, site visit. You will have to go and see what you are dealing with, where their location is, do you need a ladder? I may need to do a cutout if I do a cut out do I do the repair or hire out? How you plan to get to them if you need to save them or destroy them. There is a lot to think on when doing a removal. If you are doing one on your own site, then insurance is not needed. I just want to throw that out at you. Any time you do work or help for someone in a field that has any kind of danger, see about insurance. Ask if they have home insurance. Pick up a small bond if need. Do not do any work that may cost you all that you have worked for. Speaking from experience of having companies come to a site and rebuild a historic block fireplace made of handmade sand stone block, that had no idea that removing was $3,000.00 for every 20 bricks to replace. It all worked out in the end, but be careful not only with protective garments and gear but in your wallet.
After you see the site and it is in a vinyl siding wall of a home, or whatever you got yourself into, you will need to walk through the steps of the removal twice. Once to see clean run, once to see if they are not right in the location you see them. They may be going in a spot and crawling 20 feet to a good open space to place comb. When making the dry run removal, list what you are using at the time. So here are some basic steps on doing the walk through. After you do a few I am sure you will see things I am missing. I forget more than I ever get to even try being a BKeep.
First make sure you have all contact information and site location. Identify the bee or pest. See the location where the pest is and the location where they go in if there is more than one location. If over 4 feet, you will need to see what kind of device you will use to get in the air; step ladder, lift, or sky crane. You will need to see if trapping is an option. (Trapping bees is used to get bees out without doing a lot of damage to a structure. They place boxes outside the hive to catch the bees in. By placing a one-way door on the opening of the hive they want the bees removed from, the bees will go into the box or the box is placed so the bees go in it and cannot go through into the old hive, starting to build in the new box. Very hard to do but has a 70/30 chance of working. And if you get bees, you still have the comb left behind to deal with and may be a stuck queen that could not make it through the one way door.)
When looking at what you are taking apart to get to the bees, have you talked about the repair to the owner? If you plan to do the repair, do you have the equipment to do it or the time? Or will they take care of it? Do you have a contractor you can use? (This goes with insurance once more. You could be spending a lot if you do not know what you are doing.) Most of the time I work with local contractors that can give me a bid to replace any cut outs. (A cut out is any time you have to cut out a place to get to the bees. Some removals need not cut out. You may just have to lift up a shed floor or pull open an old wooden wire spool. Also good for a contractor that has any information on bees that need to be removed to call you. They will get work after you do.)
Swarm removal is different than a bee removal. A swarm is a traveling group of bees. A hive of bees that are established and have made comb is a removal. Most swarms are just dropped in a bucket or box. They are then packed home and placed in a hive. FREE BEES by the way. Most BKeeps do not charge for this. If a beekeeper can just show up for free bees, they just put them in a box and leave. 30 minutes max if you need to use a ladder or have to get access to the property. Farrell bees are shunned in some states for fear of disease or Africanizing of the bees. (Removal of Africanized bees is very dangerous. That is all I am going to say on Africanized bees. I have a different position of them and own some.)
Now that you have made a walk through and made the call to save the bees. You will need a bee vac and a way to save the brood comb. A bee vac is a vacuum that is used to suck up the bees without hurting them. Some are very expensive to by. You can see how to make one on YouTube I am sure. If you plan to do this for a living, you need a good one for long distance removals. The use of the vacuum is needed for a good removal. You can use it for swarm removals as well. You place the bunch of bees out of the bee vac right into a hive.
The hard part of doing this is finding the queen. You need to find the queen or you are going to have to marry the bees to a hive or make a nuc box out of them to save them. (Marrying bees to a hive is to place a group of bees that do not have a queen, or the hive that is not going to make it on its own, to a strong hive that will take them in so you can split that hive before over population to make up a hive. A nuc box is a small hive that has four to five frames in it that is a starter hive. Mostly used for splitting hives, making queens, or a way to make stronger packages of bees for sale. A nuc has one frame of capped brood, one frame of honey, one frame of open brood comb, and then sometimes just frame of rice brood to make queens. Placing the bees right in the box that has rice brood from a removal is one way to move the hive and have the bees make a new queen.
You will then have to remove the comb out of the wall. Yes, brood comb is saved and placed in nuc’s, new hives, weak hives, brooding hives, and even for feeding chickens. You cut the comb off and place in a new frame. Using rubber bands to hold the comb in place, you can put it in a hive. Using around three rubber bands will hold the comb well. I will use wire most of the time now, just wrapping it around the frame. Rubber bands break and snap. I have had one snap and kill my queen, just my luck. Think of a bungee cord spring back at you, or a rock being thrown at you on a motorcycle. That is what rain is to a bee or that rubber band. Just something I learned the hard way.
So you have opened up the wall, porch, or trunk of an old car and sucked out your bees, removed the comb and placed in frames. Took a little honey for your problems, and saved the bees. You still have to scrub the place of removal with TSP soap or more bees will come back. You have to remove the scent of the bees and the smell of honey or it will be an open spot for bees to return. One reason Orkin loves when a beekeeper says I cannot save them, destroy them. He gets to come back three to four times. If the comb is not removed, ants come for the honey, then other bugs for food and homes, then mice or rats come to chew up comb for nests, or more bees come to fill in the old comb. You could pay an exterminator three times for the one problem. That is why you pay a BKeep the first time.
You will have to work with the owner of the place. Some removals can cost thousands of dollars. If insurance will not pay or because it is not life threatening or the owner does not have a reasonable way to pay for the removal; in states that require it, you will have to have them destroyed. Bug bombs work well, and if you can get to them spray them with a 60/40 dish soap/water spray. That is an eco-way of killing bees. But if you kill them, I would call an exterminator to do it. You have to have the right chemical and that is their job, to kill bugs. You would hate to come back for someone calling and saying I still see bees. If they see one bee and only one bee 10 minutes after you leave, they will call you and you will have to go back. This can be costly if you do not make it clear that some bees were off to work and coming home, that you cannot take them down like a hit man.
Hey I am The BEE Whisperer and I hope this helps with
some of your bee problems or swarm removals that you have.
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From my failures to your wins, Bee Whisperer out!