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Bees, begone!

I stumbled across a honey bee nest on my property. How should I go about removing the bees?

First, ask yourself whether you should bother with the bees. If they inhabit a hollow tree out in your grove, why not let them live? If they're in the wall cavity of your house, however, you may need to encourage them to buzz off.

First of all, don't panic--and keep your distance from the nest. Even if the location of their nest is a nuisance, the bees won't bother you if they don't feel threatened.

Removing bees without killing them is a lot of work, involving deconstruction, removal, transportation, and cleanup. After you've discovered a nest, contact a local beekeeping club to see whether someone in the club will perform the service for a fee, or approach farmers in the area to see whether they have any local beekeeping contacts. You may luck out and find a beekeeper willing to do the work for the sake of the bees. If you do, the beekeeper will probably remove the nest and transfer the bees to a movable hive, and the rest will be up to you.

If you find a person who removes bees professionally, you'll need to choose how much of the job you want them to undertake and how much you want to do yourself. Minimally, you or a professional will need to expose the nest by clearing surrounding obstructions, and then remove the bees. This method will cost the least because it takes the least amount of time. After the bees are removed, you'll need to wash the remaining cavity and fill it with insulation so it doesn't attract bees again, or hire a carpenter to take care of it.

I don't recommend killing the bees. Protecting these important pollinators is ideal, so exhaust your other options first. In some situations, the difficulty of removal, the expense, the level of repair, or the location of the nest make removal all but impossible. And bees out of place can be just as dangerous and destructive as any other insect. Sometimes you simply have no choice other than to kill the nest, especially if it's in or on your home.

Extermination companies may avoid taking on this difficult work. Killing an entire honey bee colony in a wall or other structure is an especially challenging task because the brood will often continue to emerge for days and won't want to retreat, requiring exterminators to return multiple times to complete the job.

If exterminators do agree to help remove bees from an indoor nest, they'll use a spray or a powder around the opening in your home from which the bees are emerging. A powder may be more effective than a spray because the bees will track it into the nest, gradually exposing all the bees to the poison. It'll take about a month to kill the colony. After you stop seeing flying bees, you can do the deconstruction and cleanup yourself.

You can also apply the dust yourself and obtain the same results as the profession als--but be careful. Watch the opening and make sure there's only one. If the nest has multiple openings, close all but one with duct tape. If you see bees coming and going from several entrances, you may have more than one nest.

Sometimes the bees' entrance is easy to access, and the nest is near the opening. In such instances, you can use wasp and hornet spray three times per week, right at the entrance. It'll take two or three cans, but it will work. If, however, you do have more than one nest and you close the only entrance, you'll have another problem. The bees will find another entrance, and you could suddenly have bees coming out of electric outlets, pipe cutouts, or other unwelcome places.

After the nest is dead, the combs that contain dead bees, honey, and pollen--now unregulated relative to temperature--will gradually disintegrate, and the honey will leak out and soak through walls or ceilings. You'll have to clean and fill the cavity quickly.

If you're lucky, the nest you came across will be in a location that's not dangerous to passersby, not doing damage, and not causing a problem. Can you let it stay there after the bees are gone? Maybe--but the scent of honey, wax, pollen, and dead bees may attract other scavengers pursuing food. You may still want to remove the hive to eliminate that possibility.
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Title Annotation:Ask Our Experts
Author:Flottum, Kim
Publication:Mother Earth News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2016
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