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So often when I arrive at a home where there’s a nuisance bee hive, folks are somehow embarrassed by the bees in their eaves, tree, or in a crawl space. Let it go!
Bees reproduce by casting off a swarm (usually in springtime) and search out new places to build their hives. And they’ll pick the darndest places to do it. I’ve removed hives from just about anywhere, even the bilge of a boat once.
Once the bees move in, they’ll just do their work quietly and build up their colony. You’ll only notice them when the hive is strong enough that they start defending their resources — which often means a few stings when you’re running your mower or weed whacker. But by then the bees have probably been there for a while.
Sure, it’s not a bad idea to seal up openings in walls and eaves or even fill in a big tree cavity, but bees are opportunists and if they find a nice, weather-protected area on your property they just might move in.
We’ll go just about anywhere to remove bees, and on this job my mentor Al Friedle and I had the extra help of a mechanical lift to get us up into the trees to take down a hive that had taken up in an owl box.
Nothing is more fun than going up high in a lift, and while I keep telling my wife that we really need to invest one for the bee business, she has run the numbers and is not quite convinced.
First thing on the job we got all suited up, including Roberto the lift operator. Safety is our main priority and we want to make sure everyone on the site is protected and knows what they might expect (even the cameraman).
We lit our bee smoker to calm the bees as we worked them, then headed up into the tree.
Once in front of the hive, I started vacuuming bees off of the exterior of a hive. I use a low-pressure bee vacuum that pulls the bees safely into a wire chamber so we can relocate them.
Vacuuming the outside reduces the hives numbers right away, particularly the “guard bees” whose job it is to protect the colony.
Once I had removed a lot of bees, I was able to just stuff the main hive opening closed, then remove the box from the trunk of the tree and take it to the ground where I covered it with a transport net to keep the bees in their place.
Of course, lots of bees got loose in the process so I went back up into the tree to vacuum up any returning foragers.
After I’d captured as many as I could (and likely the queen inside the netted box), we took the bees to our bee yard a few miles away, dismantled the box, and introduced the bees to their new home.
Hive saved, happy client, happy beekeepers! What could be better?
A big hive removal from the second-story floor joists of a residential home in rural Guadalupe County, Texas. These bees had been there a while and the hive was full of delicious honey (we just finished an epic nectar flow). Got these girls out thanks to the help of my good friend George Thomas and even shared some golden deliciousness with the homeowners.
I just love when I get the first swarm call in springtime (which is usually late February here in Central Texas) and it’s a hoot to run around catching swarms all spring.
But what is a swarm?
It’s an important part of the honey bee’s reproductive cycle. When a hive is strong enough and has enough stores or is anticipating the spring nectar flow, they will make a new queen. And before that new queen emerges, the old queen then flies off with about half the colony and looks for a new place to live.
Before the bees find that perfect spot, though, they’ll usually gather somewhere temporarily in what is called a “bivouac” – usually on the branch of a tree or on a wall … sometimes even on the ground. From there, the bees send out scouts to look for an appropriate cavity to call home.
The bees might hang in their bivouac for just a few hours or days until they find a suitable place, and that’s the perfect opportunity for a beekeeper to capture them – in fact, the bees usually come quite willing if offered right environment, like a bee box with drawn-out honeycomb.
I catch swarms in a wide radius around New Braunfels, Texas. If you run into one, give me a holler!