Angie's List: Safe Bee Removal

By Lauren Maloney

Published 05/30 2014 09:21PM

Updated 06/02 2014 09:25AM

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?

In this Angie’s List report, the eco-friendly removal option more people are considering.

“People always ask me if I get stung a lot. I have this really smart answer. I say not as many as I’ve been asked,” Beekeeper Ross Harding said.

A normal day for beekeeper Ross Harding, involves putting on his suit and going to work removing honeybees from places they’re not wanted.

There’s been a sudden die-off in honeybee colonies and many homeowners are now requesting live removal.

“Live removal is really a great thing because basically you’re just relocating the hive. You’re not killing any bees. You’re removing the entire colony and their comb and you’re sealing up that hole so no bees will return. But then you can take that hive somewhere where they are actually wanted,” Harding said.

Angie’s list recommends asking a few key questions before hiring a bee specialist.

What do your services cover?

Many experts only focus on bee removal, so if they cut into your ceilings or walls, you may have to hire a separate contractor to repair the damage.

How many removals have they performed and will they remove the honeycomb?

A honeycomb left unattended will melt into a sticky mess that could seep through your walls, attracting more bees.

“Getting rid of bees is not a do-it-yourself project. In fact, last summer when I had bees attacking my kid’s swing set I called in a professional and the reason is you might not realize how big of a problem it is until you’re actually in the midst of fixing it. You might see a few bees, but there might be a lot more behind where you can’t see. Hiring a professional can make sure it’s done safely,” Angie Hicks said.

“A lot of people see bees coming and going from their house and one of the first instincts is to spray. If you were to spray an entire can of bee killer in that hole, yeah you are going to kill a bunch of bees and you might notice them stop coming and going for a couple of days, but the colony goes way far back into the house or wherever and you’re not killing all the larvae either so you’ll kill a bunch of bees but down here is a bunch of living bee,” Harding said.

Experts tell Angie’s List a bee removal in a home could cost between $200 and $800.

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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