Honey bees are some of the most fascinating and productive insects that most people are likely to encounter in their day-to-day lives. They pollinate our flowers and crops, and provide honey for the breakfast table. Unfortunately, bees are being threatened by diseases like Colony Collapse Disorder — a mysterious die-off that has been in the news recently.
So when they move into unwanted spaces, it is important to safely remove them intact whenever possible. Let’s take a look at the life of a honey bee colony, and what to do if you encounter honey bees that need to be removed.
Honey bee hives
A bee hive is organized around the life of the queen bee who is the parent of every bee in the colony. All of the bees in a hive are female, except for drones. Their job is simple — mate with the queen to ensure the survival of the hive. One bee hive can contain up to 100,000 bees.
Contrary to the image portrayed by some Hollywood movies, bee swarming is not an aggressive activity. It is a natural response to population pressures and is the way that bees ensure their survival. When the time is right, about half of the bees in a colony will exit the hive, along with a new queen. Usually, they will alight as one mass on a branch of a nearby tree or other structure.
If you should encounter such a clump of bees, do not be afraid. If they have not been there long, they are normally quite peaceful at this time. The reason is that before leaving their parent hive, they have gorged themselves on honey. A full bee is a happy bee.
The best thing to do is slowly back away and call your pest control company. They can either come out themselves to remove the swarm or put you in touch with a local beekeeper who can perform the removal. Sometimes, free bee hive removals are available.
Do not spray the bees or attempt to remove them yourself. This will only make them aggressive. Normally, a swarm is non aggressive since they have no young or honey to defend.
If they are clumped in a swarm, they tend to be very easy to remove at this stage. The pest control professional or beekeeper can simply scoop them into a box to be taken away. Some structures can present a problem, but swarm removal is normally a fairly easy process.
It is when bee colonies move into unwanted structures, particularly homes, that the situation can become more tricky. Bees prefer wooden structures that are sheltered from the elements, making houses a common destination. They tend to build under a home’s eaves or inside the walls.
This type of removal is not always a free bee hive removal, since boards may need to be pried loose and replaced, and specialized equipment may be required. However, the outcome is usually good if the bees can be accessed.