I am a newbie to beekeeping, have only been keeping hives again for a few years. I just began catching swarms with the hope of building up my small apiary. I've found there is a lot I don't know and a lot to learn.
The local agricultural center is, as well as pest control companies, giving out names of people on their lists who remove swarms. Like other beekeeps in the area, I'm getting calls about swarms moving into or becoming established in houses. I've never tried to remove a swarm from a house and I did not realize until talking with Iddee that there was another way (the trap-out method) of successfully removing bees from a home, other than getting a carpenter and actually going into the structure and removing them and the comb, which is costly to the homeowner and which I have no experience doing. Many people can't afford to do this.
The other alternatives seemed to be to either live with the honeybees, which most people, don't want to do, find a way to make them leave, or kill them. If they are killed or made to leave, the honey still remains in the walls and will cause a problem, draw more bees or other insects. So I was for awhile at a loss on what to advise people to do.
I read about putting steel wool in the entrance where they were coming and going from, advised folks that called as best I could when they indicated they could not afford to have construction done or when they chose to kill the bees instead of having them removed. This resulted, apparently, in a few colonies being killed. Though I was trying to help people who had these insects invade their homes, I wish I'd never advised them. If people choose to kill honeybees then that's their choice but it's not mine.
Other beekeepers in the area also are advising that they can't remove the bees from houses and for folks to call the exterminators. I got a call this afternoon from a woman who had bees going into her brick foundation and had gotten into the insulation and in the house. The ag center had given her several references for folks to call to remove them. It was later in the afternoon before I received her message and could explain to her about the trap-out method and that the bees could have been removed without being killed. She had contacted other beekeeps who told her nothing could be done and it was best to exterminate them. By the time I spoke with her she had called a pest control company and had them exterminated.
These beekeeps didn't know they could be removed with the trap-out method.
Few beekeps who remove bees seem to use this method, many like me did not know about it, even the bee person at the Forsyth Agricultural Center hadn't heard of it and had trouble understanding how it worked. I did too at first until I saw Iddee use it.
The Forsyth County Beekeepers Association has a website and a section on honeybee removal. They state that " Trapping is sometimes done, but it is rarely practical because it takes several weeks and doesn't remove 100% of the bees. If you do decide to exterminate them, any large quantities of honey left behind should be removed to avoid staining and destruction of inside walls or ceilings. The honey and nest debris may also attract other bees, insect pests and rodents."
Yet Iddee says the Trap Out method he uses works, and that the bees will go in and remove the honey. Wouldn't it be more practical and certainly beneficial to use this method? In it, apparently, the bees exit via a cone that they cannot enter back in through. The trap-out is left in place until the bees have left the house and made their home in a nearby hive that has brood comb in it. Once the colony is established the trap out (cone over the entrance) is taken down, the bees go in and remove the honey but return to the hive, their new home, rather than remain in the house. Then, the entrance to the house closed up so other bees can't get in. It’s not inexpensive, but certainly it is not as expensive as tearing into a home or office building, or paying someone to go in and take out the bees comb but leave the resulting repairs needed the burden of the homeowner. And as bees are needed it seems most prudent and practical.
And given that more bees are needed, and more beekeepers, couldn’t some sort of grant be developed to help homeowners with the costs of this kind of removal? Maybe beekeepers that do these removals could be paid through these funds, offsetting their expenses and the resulting expense to the homeowners, encouraging apiculture?
Last edited by gingerbee; 05-13-2008 at 08:08 PM.
Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.