This week will most likely herald in the beginning of the spring nectar flow here in the Midlands of South Carolina. A few beekeepers will be caught off guard during the coming weeks, needing equipment, adding hive bodies, and tending to other management issues. Along with these urgent matters there will also be the unexpected swarm issue from hives. So far this year we have focused on preventing swarms and preparations which can be made prior to the swarm season to give the beekeeper the upper hand. We’ll now dedicate a week on how best to deal with swarms once they issue.
Occasionally, bees or wasps will make their home in the walls or a tree on your property. While getting them out may be tricky, it is worth finding out if it is possible. Read more about why you should have them removed instead of exterminating them below.
Typically beekeepers do not do removals from structures or trees, but some do. Removals from homes are most often a fee for service situation. Removals necessitate a specific skill set not taught in beekeeping.
Last year, while responding to honey bee swarm calls, on more than one occasion I arrived only to find that the owner had already sprayed insecticide on the bees. This is almost always a bad idea for several reasons.
Another call I received in late summer had me arrive to find an inpatient landlord spraying inside an attic. He told me that he determined that the bees clustered on the outside were actually entering the house and had established a hive in the attic. He thanked me for coming, but said he didn’t have time to wait as he hoped to have the house rented later that day. Before leaving I told him that unless he wanted a damaged ceiling, drywall and furnishings, he should consider having the hive removed because without the bees fanning the wax comb, the comb would melt releasing perhaps gallons of honey, and he’d be receiving complains from his new tenants. (not to mention the smell of decaying bees and larva and attracting ants, roaches, and other pests for months to come).
In closing, consider that spraying the bees is a poor effort to quickly eliminate a complex problem, and will often lead to more expensive problems in the days that follow. The time spent consulting a local beekeeper or bee removal service first is time well invested.