Safely Remove Honey Bees

Pinterest Hidden Image

Bees are very important pollinators – and honey bees are no exception. However, you may not be thrilled with the idea of sharing your home with a colony of bees. Do you have to kill them? No, in most cases, it is possible to remove honey bees to a new location. However, this is not a task for the average homeowner. It is vital to understand the challenges and risks of relocating a colony. If you have honey bees living in the wall of your home or outside trim, it is time to consult the professionals.

Worker honey bee entering brick wall and bees and honeycomb removed from inside wall.

While you may not suffer from apiphobia (intense fear of bees), no one wants to share their living room with them. They also represent a danger for anyone playing or walking outside near the colony entrance.

How to Get Rid of Honey Bees

Honey bees are social insects that live together in large families. Like many native pollinators, they have experienced many environmental pressures resulting in declining wild populations.

It is often possible to relocated a bee colony, rather than kill it. So, calm down and let’s look at this situation calmly.

Do not attempt to remove them yourself if you are not a knowledgeable beekeeper or professional exterminator. Any colony will defend their home when provoked.

Worker honey bee flying to flower garden.

Removal of Swarms vs Colonies

There are a few situations that may cause alarm for anyone unfamiliar with these important pollinators.

These are bee swarms, bee trees and bees living in the walls (or other enclosed space) of your home.

All are very different problems and to remove these groups of honey bees requires different approaches.

A Bee Swarm in Your Backyard

To someone unfamiliar with them, honey bee swarms are a terrifying experience. But, this characteristic of honey bees is beautiful too – at least to us beekeepers.

Perhaps, you have noticed a swarm of bees flying through the air on a warm Spring afternoon. Or maybe, you find a large ball of them hanging in one of your trees in the backyard.

These transitional swarms are usually temporary. There is no reason to panic, swarms are not aggressive if left alone. Watch from a respectful distant and keep kids and pets away.

In most cases, the swarm will remove itself in a day or so – leaving to begin a new home somewhere else.

Join Our Beekeeping Community

Free "Secrets to Successful Beekeeping" plus weekly newsletter with info about bees, beekeeping and more...

If you don’t want to wait for them to leave – or they have been in the same place for several days (sometimes they get stuck and begin to build comb) – find a local beekeeping association.

An area beekeeper will likely be glad to catch and remove the swarm. Don’t expect to get paid by the beekeeper.

There is some risk of disease in bringing new colonies to your apiary and it is hard work to get a colony established.

Honey bee colony nesting in a backyard tree.

Bee Tree

If you see workers coming and going from a hole in a tree, there is probably a colony inside. It is very difficult-if not impossible to chase them away from their home. They have food and baby bees inside!

It can be rather exciting to find a colony of living in a tree-it is natural bee habitat. As the hive opening tends to be up high, they may live there for years without you knowing.

If they are not hurting anything, and no one in your family has bee allergies, why not leave them be. Unless you live in an area with Africanized Honeybees, an undisturbed hive is rarely a danger.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to get a hive out of the tree without cutting the tree down. If you hire a professional to cut the tree down – it must be someone familiar with the problem.

Trap Out

Another option is a “trap out” if you can find an area beekeeper willing to try the process. In this situation, an empty beehive is set outside the entrance for the bees.

A special funnel is placed that allows foragers to leave but not be able to get back inside the tree. Instead, they take up residence inside the new beehive.

When most of the population is living in the new hive instead of the tree – those inside are left to die. The hole in the tree can be plugged. 

This is a time-consuming project and does sacrifice part of the colony and resources. However, it is an alternative to killing the colony in a situation where the tree can not be cut down to remove the honey bees.

This method is sometimes used in situations where bees are not in a tree too but the problem of resources left inside still exists.

Honey bees inside house that need to be removed by expert.

Honey Bee Colony Inside Your House

Are you continuously finding honey bees inside your house, if so it is possible that a colony is living somewhere in your walls, floor or roof.

Go outside and carefully look for bee activity. It may be a small crack in the foundation or around the roof area. If you see a steady stream of insect traffic, you have a problem.

Honestly, it is not the ones you see coming and going that are the biggest problem. Rather, it is those inside the wall with all that honey comb, babies etc.

If you close up the entrance, there are still thousands inside – looking for a way out. Getting rid of honey bees inside walls calls for professional assistance.

Beekeeper Cutouts

You may find an area beekeeper that specializes in this service – called a “cutout”. It will not be free. Cutouts can be quite expensive as the person must have bee experience and carpentry know-how. 

Shop around for the best prices in your area. Also be sure to have a clear understanding of exactly what the removal specialist is going to do for you. 

If they remove the bees and honeycomb, will they also replace any damage done to your home to access them?

Most are able to repair the wall and have some carpentry skills but this needs to be discussed first. The homeowner needs a full understanding of the job to be done and the cost. A written contract is a great idea.

Honey bee with pollen entering nest in house wall image.

Bee Extermination

In some situations, it will be necessary to kill the colony. This should be a last ditch effort after all methods to relocate the bees have been exhausted.

Even if you are successful at killing the insects, you still have the beeswax, honey and dead babies in your wall. 

With no worker bees to maintain the hive, these items will spoil and smell really bad. Whenever possible, the comb, honey and brood must be removed too.

Honey bee beeswax comb and paper wasp home in doorway.

Reduce the Number of Bees in Your Space.

The most common reason for having too many stinging insects around is due them having a home nearby. Understand the difference between bees and wasps. Often, relocating their home is just not a good option.

Homeowners must usually destroy the colony with chemical sprays or hire a professional. Learn how to tell if you have a bee nest or a wasp nest, before calling for help.

Yellow jacket wasp entrance in ground.

If you have a family of yellow jacket wasps or hornets living in your wall, I’m afraid extermination is the only way. I don’t know of any beekeeper who will relocate them. But, it doesn’t hurt to ask around.

Final Thoughts

Planting bee friendly gardens has become a very popular hobby. But, you can not plant nectar and pollen rich flowers and not expect pollinators to visit your yard. 

If you are planning an outdoor picnic and need to discourage them for a while, there are things you can do to keep bees away from your home.

If your dog eats bees for a hobby, having a bee safe zone might be a good idea. This can safely be accomplished by choosing plants that repel bees (or at least do not attract them) in those areas.

There are even things you can do to help keep bees away from a swimming pool.

Think before you grab that can of wasp or bee killer. We need our pollinators and in most cases you can find a way to get rid of bees without having to resort to lethal measures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *