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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Trenton, SC
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    99

    Default Would you do this cutout?

    Got a call a couple of weeks ago from a guy with a 2 year old hive in his house. It's a vacant house that he is renovating for his mom. When I got there, he said his mom called a pest control company and they quoted her $900 to remove the colony. He said that there was no way they could afford that, but they needed the bees gone. It occurred to me at that point that I hadn't asked him on the phone wether the bees had been sprayed. I never do cut outs if they have and have turned down several this season. Here's where it gets tricky. I asked if they had been sprayed and his response was, "I don't think so."

    The hive is in between the first and second story. Inside the home, there was a gap between the dentil moulding and the wall where one or two bees were getting into the house. He had tried to caulk it, but there were still gaps and some bees getting in the house. The primary entrance is outside (obviously) and it's very busy.

    My thoughts - in most cases if the homeowner sprays, it's probably just the entrance, and a small amount at that. In this situation, it seems that he could have emptied a couple of cans behind the moulding in the house without getting chased by the bees.

    Before I left, I told him to check with his mom and be certain that they weren't sprayed. I told him that if I found evidence during the cutout that they had, I wouldn't proceed. I also tried the honey from the hive test and he agreed to take it. Doesn't mean he's going to eat it though.

    He called later and said they had never been sprayed. I reluctantly committed to do this cutout and am a big believer in doing what you say you are going to do. However, I don't trust his response of, "I don't think so." Seems like he would know that. My gut tells me they are saying what they need to say to get the bees gone. BTW - I started out doing these for free to get the experience. I'm charging now, but this was the last free call I got so I'm saving them $900.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    647

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    Quote Originally Posted by mgburton View Post
    Before I left, I told him to check with his mom and be certain that they weren't sprayed. I told him that if I found evidence during the cutout that they had, I wouldn't proceed. I also tried the honey from the hive test and he agreed to take it. Doesn't mean he's going to eat it though.
    Really, you are going to stop in the middle of a cutout and leave your customer with a partially completed bee removal?


    Quote Originally Posted by mgburton View Post

    BTW - I started out doing these for free to get the experience. I'm charging now, but this was the last free call I got so I'm saving them $900.
    The way I handle it, when there is any doubt at all I assume that they have been sprayed and add $250 to my price.

    Then while doing the cutout I save nothing but the brood comb and make sure to keep those boxes on the bottom of the hive as it grows and then I discard all the cutout comb early the next spring when those boxes are empty because the bees have moved up.


    I'm doing a monster thriving cutout tomorrow where the homeowner bragged about all pesticides he tried on the bees and even used ether on them, all to no avail.

    Good luck. ....Don

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    1,089

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    I can't answer your question, but I love the " honey in the hive test" I will have to save that little gem for future reference.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
    Posts
    608

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    If you told them you would do it then do it. We all have to eat a doo doo sandwich once in a while so put on your big boy underoos and get it over with. Live and learn.
    If they lied to you then egg their house. That's the grown up thing to do isn't it?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Lizard Creek, Louisiana
    Posts
    377

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    Quote Originally Posted by challenger View Post
    Live and learn.
    If they lied to you then egg their house. That's the grown up thing to do isn't it?
    Darn you sure your not from Lizard Creek?

    We like to send egg express messages ourselves when people tell Big Fib's :}

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,898

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    I am amazed at how many guys spend a day with helpers to do a $900 cutout for free or $250 and invest $200 in a hive to put them in. After making a $200 bee vac, wearing a $100 bee suit, driving over in a $40000 truck, loaded with $300 of cutout supplies and a $100 ladder. All for the possibility of ending up with $100 of bees....IF the queen makes it, which they could buy for $25 and divide in one hour an UN-diseased hive with good comb.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    St. Petersburg, fl, USA
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    its not the money its the rush and the chance to educate more people about bees.
    And yes I would do this cut out. Just like another comment earlier-if there is any question about being sprayed we do the honey test watch to make sure they eat some of the honey and if they have kids give the kids some too. Second story jobs are always a lot harder so we charge a lot more. We have a limit on the number of hives we can keep so we bring home a feral hive get it to where it has frames of capped brood and sell it. We always tell our customers that the hive was a feral collection with unknown genetics and a queen of unknown age. We generally only sell the frames of bees and we keep all the other equipment to reuse. The customer provides their own hive set up.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
    Posts
    608

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    I am amazed at how many guys spend a day with helpers to do a $900 cutout for free or $250 and invest $200 in a hive to put them in. After making a $200 bee vac, wearing a $100 bee suit, driving over in a $40000 truck, loaded with $300 of cutout supplies and a $100 ladder. All for the possibility of ending up with $100 of bees....IF the queen makes it, which they could buy for $25 and divide in one hour an UN-diseased hive with good comb.
    Well said.
    The "rush" of getting the bees? OK for you maybe but the rush of getting a value based pay day is more to my liking. I have removed sprayed hives and the brood has been garbage. Hatching bees are often zombies.
    Asking the kids to eat the honey? That is just Bazaar to me. Take a walk through Walmart. IMO most Walmartians will not hesitate to feed their kids honey with pesticides in it. I wouldn't rely on the honey taste test. I've met too many people that would gulp contaminated honey to save $100.00. If there is a suspicion that the bees were sprayed add $ to the job. Do it right and screw all this gray area garbage. Why all the complications? If someone wants to work for free or for the "value" that they see in the bees then so be it. It won't make sense long term and a job done for free isn't going to be done as well as one that is paid to do. JMOHO

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,013

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    I woudl not do a cut for a customer I thought was lying got me. I would also stop a cut out if in the process I found out they where lying to me. This is due to my experiences with home renovation and remodeling. there is a certain customer you do not want to be involved with when it comes to working on their home. And these behaviors are clearly indicators of that sort of customer. More commonly it is the customer that generally looks at you with suspicion. But the same sort of situation can and does manifest itself in other ways. Lying is one of them. I have no problem if someone made a mistake. certainly not one as common as spraying insects. But I require that others pay for their mistakes. I do have a problem with them lying to me and causing me financial harm. I charge more to remove sprayed bees. lying to me and getting me to do it for less is equal to stealing from me. I make it clear that I charge more to remove poisoned bees before I even start. if during the cut out I find the bees have been poisoned that increased charge applies and I then require being paid in advance. The cut out will not continue until I have been paid in full. They have now established that they cannot be trusted. so they will no longer have my trust. They can now work with having to trust me.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Gilford,nh,USA
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    I haven't done any cut outs yet and have only collected swarms so far, so I value the comments those of you with experience have made. It has been my experience that people with little knowledge of honeybees are often in panic mode when the see a swarm. The same may be true if they have a hive in the wall of their house. I find the phrasing of the first questions I ask are important in getting factual answers. I ask, " what have you sprayed them with?" As opposed to "have you sprayed them with anything". I have found people are more apt to answer your questions accurately and honestly if they are posed in a non-judgmental manner. Once I get all facts, I would then agree on pricing. Just my opinion.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    3,013

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    Quote Originally Posted by challenger View Post
    If someone wants to work for free or for the "value" that they see in the bees then so be it. It won't make sense long term and a job done for free isn't going to be done as well as one that is paid to do. JMOHO
    The Value that a colony holds is variable for mine beekeeper to the next. for example so far this year on average any colony I had last fall has been worth over $250 so far this spring. I also take on about $130 in costs to get it. That estimate includes $75 for the basic hive equipment another 30 to 35 dollars for a second box and the cost of feeding and managing until the following spring. I make my choices for far more sound reasons than whether I want something or not. Do I want that profit? sure. Can I afford to get another colony? I can get colonies for far less cost than a cut out. So if what I need is another colony I will make it in the most cost effective manner possible. A cut out is a situation that a customer has a problem with their home. and that is how I treat it. I am capable of fixing their problem. I am not doing it to get bees. if I do get a colony in the process so be it. But I am their to solve their problem.

    As for how well a job is done. that would be determined by work ethic and not the money involved. those that do work well will do it well. those that do not, will not. I never forget I am not just working for this one customer. I am working for every person they ever tell about my work. Maybe that is why I have not advertised my services for over 10 years and still have people that hunt me down to do work for them. I finished a kitchen remodel. In the process all of my customers neighbors not to mention the friends that dropped by to see the work learned all about how I do bees as well. "Oh I know of so and so that had bees in their tree last year". And they will remember me the next time they know of someone with bees somewhere.

    When you live actually doing something it shows. and people remember.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Trenton, SC
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    Update -

    I cancelled the cutout and didn't feel the least bit guilty about it. After much consideration, I was trapped. There was no amount of discussion that would convince me that they had not sprayed the bees. It was the discussion that we already had that lead me to my decision, and there was no changing that.

    Some folks mentioned changing out comb, etc., but the bottom line is that the pesticide is already in there and the bees are walking across it and will spread it to any box you add. I know that stuff doesn't last forever, but it's a mental thing (probably from utilizing sterile technique in the medical field), and I just don't want bees that bad to overlook it. Given the abysmal success rates for cutouts, I'd rather make splits for free or buy packages or nucs than sweat my tail off for sick bees.

    And yes, I would stop in the middle of a cutout and bail. I have an ad that says don't call me if you've sprayed the bees. The agreement we have is that I will remove a clean colony of bees for free. If they've been sprayed, I'm not at all interested. If you post an ad for a free refrigerator that runs and I get there and it's broken, then sorry, I don't want it. You lied and it's your problem.

    If you're paying me for a service, that's a different story. If I'm doing you a favor, then beggars can't be choosers.

    Even getting paid, I think there are some ethical issues. Some of us use foundationless to avoid acaracide contamination. Along the same lines, the culling of some comb every year is a pretty common practice regardless of your beekeeping style. The rationale is that contaminants can theoretically accumulate in the hive from bees inadvertent contact with pesticides. Given those theories and practices, and the premiums the public puts on the all natural, unadulterated products we sell, I can't in good conscience sell bees, comb, or honey from bees raised in comb that may have been saturated with pesticide.

    In theory, I'd be willing to do a removal on a hive that had been sprayed, but I would charge an arm and a leg and toss the bees and the comb. In that scenario, you might as well call the exterminator.
    Last edited by mgburton; 07-02-2014 at 08:49 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    "You've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run..."
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,842

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    Michael.. + 1....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Trenton, SC
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    I always loved that song.....

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    collbran, co
    Posts
    546

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    if they been sprayed they wont make the winter anyways.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
    Posts
    608

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    I had a condo HOA president call me about a cut out. He said that he sprayed them three times before someone told him that this wouldn't kill the hive. Perhaps spraying enough would indeed kill the hive but what gets left behind for a subsequent and more serious mess should be a big concern. I explained this to him over the phone and he continued to mention that there were a lot of bees "that were worth a lot of $ to a beekeeper". I told him I charge for doing a removal and that I don't factor potential value of what I remove into the estimate because that really isn't what the job is about. It is about removing a hive inside a structure in a safe and proper way and returning the area back to the condition it was found. There is another guy in town that does removals and he is a shyster. I get paid a lot of money to remove hives and the last job he bid on was six times what I charged and he subs everything other than the actual removal of the bees out. He wouldn't know what end of a hammer to catch if you threw one at him. I do the whole job as I imagine most do. Anyway I went to look at this condo job. It would take maybe 3 hours with travel and I told him $400.00. Six foot ladder, remove a piece of plywood ceiling in a screened in porch, remove the bees etc etc. Replace everything, a little calk and done.
    Last week we did one at the top of a gable 35' up in the air. We rented a man lift for $400.00. Spent a full day taking out a huge hive from inside the boxing/trim of the gable. Got soaked with sweat and honey and we were a complete mess and tired as we could be but we cleared almost $600.00 for two of us which was a fair price. When I got done you couldn't tell we were ever there. The guy that did the exterior trim on the house was a fool. He left a full 1" gap at the peak where the two pieces of soffit meet and filled it with calk. I find that poor workmanship is one of the leading cause for bees finding a way into a house.
    IMG_20140627_093143_zpsoqopxh3f.jpg
    IMG_20140627_093123_zpsqhlb4e3k.jpg
    IMG_20140627_101708_zpse1sqoyk3.jpg
    IMG_20140627_190426_zpstiuglbaf.jpg

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    St. Petersburg, fl, USA
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    I never thought a discussion of cut outs could get so rough. When we were learning we did several removals for free to get experience. We loved the rush so we started doing more but charging for it . Our average charge is around $200 for a couple of hours work. If we are there a little longer $250. If the job is high or looks like it will be longer than 2-21/2 hours we charge more yet. The bees that we collect we sell after they have settled in and we have a good laying pattern. Here in Florida we don't have the wintering problems that the northern states do so usually any nuc that has three or more frames built out will do fine. We rarely save more than a single frame of brood more than that and the amount of damaged brood and dripping honey becomes a problem for the bees that they have to take care of .Our survival rate on cut outs keeps improving as we learn and experience more. For example we learned that putting wadded up paper towel in the bee vac improved survival rates tremendously. My theory is that it provides cushioning when the bees enter the vac and it absorbs moisture from the mass of bees . We learned that when we put the bees in a hive we need to keep the hive entrance closed for 24 hours so the bees have time to repair the comb and clean up any spilled honey so that we don't have robbing.
    Also some of you cited the cost of equipment. Bee vacs, trucks and bee suits would be considered capital investments with a life span so you can't realistically expect to cover that expense with one job. We figure our time is worth about $25.00/hour and we want to make profit to cover our other expenses so we figure about $50.00 per hour per person.So a 2 hour job with two people equals $200.00. My wife like to do the vacuuming and cutting out the comb, I like cutting holes in things, putting the comb in frames and talking to all the observers. We do one or two jobs a weekend and I will sometimes do a couple after work during the week.We have fun doing it, we make money and we get to play with bees. I can not think of anything more satisfying.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    St. Petersburg, fl, USA
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    I would certainly agree that poor workmanship is a major cause of bees getting into structures. Here in Florida traditional plywood soffits have been replaced with perforated aluminum sheeting that slide in on tracks. It is easy to put up (and take down) but it does not provide a secure seal to keep bees out. I would rate that as number one, poor workman ship as number two and poor maintenance (allowing rotten wood to remain) as number three. We went to quote one job in a very expensive neighborhood (1/2 million dollar and up) where they had built a garage with a flat roof and then put walls above the roof about three feet all around to make it look Spanish. The first time it rained the garage roof began to sag. It turns out they did not put any drains off the roof. So the contractor sent out a couple of his goons and they cut several drains in this fancy wall and put red clay pipe thru the holes for drains. Turns out they did not seal the pipes in the holes and bees got in to this wall. Now the guys lawyers and the contractor are fighting over this construction and probably will be for years. No one wants to pay us for the job so the bees are still filling up the wall.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    3,013

    Default Re: Would you do this cutout?

    Poor workmanship or poor quality of materials. Do you realize that even teh plywood you refer to is a compromised quality of material due to the lack of genuine quality materials.

    A soffit is also an indication of low quality craftsmanship low quality materials or both. In genuine quality construction you want the work to show. think of a log cabin where the logs are left to show. or cathedrals where you see the beams supporting the roof etc. Soffits and other such changes in construction are there to hide unsightly low quality material.

    I own a home that was built in the 40's the beams in the ceiling are exposed and the wood used to make the ceiling is left showing. There are no soffits on my house. The same lumber that makes my ceiling just runs over the outside walls and continues to the edge of the roof. Over my front porch it cantilevers nearly 8 feet out form the house. with no support posts or beams. In short this house is built like a tank and the craftsmanship matched it.

    It requires both material quality and skill to build sound structures. New ideas are developed to reduce both. Cheaper materials that are faster to install. You are eating away at the measuring rod from both ends.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

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