Get rid of the bees without killing the colony

Eco-friendly removal option more people are considering

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - You're probably expecting a few guests this summer, but what if 50-thousand made a surprise stop and had no plans to leave? That's how many honeybees are in an average colony, so what should you do if they decide to call your house home?

Why bees matter:

According to the American Beekeeping Federation, one-third of all food Americans eat is directly or indirectly derived from honeybee pollination. 

According to the International Bee Research Association, the average bee colony can contain 50,000 honeybees, a statistic that may make some homeowners uncomfortable. However, due to colony collapse disorder — the sudden die-off in honeybee colonies — many homeowners are considering live removal as an eco-friendly option to rid their homes of honeybees.

Live removal:

A bee specialist has the right training, expertise and equipment needed for safe bee removal and relocation to a proper place so that the bees can continue to function as pollinators and creators of honey and bees wax.

Angie's List asked highly rated bee specialists about live removal methods.

Beekeepers use 3 different live removal methods:

  1. Swarm removal: Harding describes a swarm as a cluster of bees about the size of a basketball that isn't attached to a hive. Bees swarm when they're looking for a new home. They typically aren't aggressive, because they aren't defending a hive.
  2. Cut-outs: Bee specialists use the cut-out method when the bees have established themselves in a wall or tree. To remove the bees and honeycomb, the beekeeper cuts into the wall. Specialists can employ different ways to pinpoint where the bees are inside of the wall, including using a stethoscope to hear the bees behind the wall or using a thermal scanner to find the hot spot in the wall. Being able to locate the bees helps minimize the damage to the home.
  3. Trap-outs: When a beekeeper wants or needs to avoid cutting into a wall or tree where bees are located, they use a trap-out. Trap-outs build a one-way bee escape, where the bees can leave their old hive, but not make it back in.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring bee removal

  • Ensure the bee removal expert has the right license and insurance to perform the bee removal operation.
  • Ask for references and how many removals have they done
  • Will the bees be exterminated or relocated? Will they remove the honeycomb? A honeycomb left unattended will melt into a sticky mess that could seep through wall attracting more bees and pests.
  • Will they repair the damage? Some companies may need to cut into your walls to get to the bees, but may have to refer you to another contractor to fix the problem.
  • Be able to identify the bee when you call – yellow jackets and wasps are sometimes mistaken for honey bees. Where is the swarm located? How high is it? Have long have they been there? Write down as much information as you can before calling. Taking a picture can help identify too.
  • You can make your home less attractive to swarms. Bees desire a small hole for a suitable cavity. Carefully inspect house walls, soffits or birdboards lining the roof's edge and trim around windows or doors. Inspect monthly during the warmer months.

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