A swarm of honey bees is a temporary inconvenience that may
last a few hours or days. Honey bees in a swarm are usually gentle
because they have full honey stomachs. If left undisturbed, a swarm
will locate new quarters and often disappear as quickly as they appeared.
beekeepers collect swarms to put into their unused hives. They
seldom demand a fee for their effort since the bees from the swarm
will grow when captured in a hive and usually produce honey the
next season. Beekeepers leave their names and phone numbers with
local county Extension agents or local police. Some bee associations
produce lists of members who are interested in swarm capture.
is not always possible to locate a beekeeper or practical for the
beekeeper to capture a swarm. REMEMBER a swarm is only
temporary and will move away as soon as the bees find a new home.
In only unusual situations will a swarm remain to build comb and
not move from a cluster site.
Bees nesting in buildings, unlike swarms, are a great problem.
There is no easy, convenient method of removing the bees. It may
be necessary to kill the bees and, if the bees have been using the
same location for awhile, the nest itself needs to be removed. Although
killing the bee colony may be a disagreeable task for some people
who know the honey bee as an important insect helper of man, in some
nesting locations bees are pests and, unfortunately, must be treated
The first step in eliminating the pest problem is locating the nest and getting
rid of the adult bees. Several materials may be used to poison honey bees.
sprays. Aerosol sprays are available specifically to eliminate
hornets, wasps, and bees. Other aerosols such as those for ants
or roaches also will kill honey bees. Spray concentrates or dusts.
Some insecticide liquids or dusts are also very effective for controlling
bees and wasps. Equipment to mix and apply such formulations is
necessary. The insecticide should be applied at the entry/exit
area of the nest and, if feasible, directly onto the nest (drilling
small holes to the nest may be necessary). The nest itself may
be some distance upwards from the entry/exit and is always suspended
from some overhead support. Several repeat applications of insecticides
are usually necessary to kill the bees. Whenever using an insecticide
check the container label for proper concentration, safe use and
to be certain it can be used as you intend to do.
of the comb
Soon after moving into a new home, honey bees build beeswax comb to store honey
and rear their young. After the adult bees have been eliminated, their nest
should be removed. If this is not done, the honey and beeswax comb of the nest
will attract other insects and animals and the odor of decaying and fermenting
honey will become quite evident. Beeswax comb left unattended by bees will
break and be attacked by wax moth; if honey soaks into walls it will become
impossible to paint or wallpaper over the stain which will remain moist to
the touch for a considerable period of time and appear unsightly.
some instances, it will be quite expensive to attempt to remove
the nest; the homeowner may be willing to put up with the smell
and take his/her chances of damage from honey soaked walls. For
nests in trees or garages, nest removal usually is not necessary.
exposed, the beeswax comb of the nest can be cut or broken from
its overhead attachment points. If a poison spray has been used
directly on the nest do not attempt to salvage the honey. Otherwise
the honey can be cut from the nest and consumed in the comb or
drained to provide the familiar liquid honey.
removal of the beeswax combs and the bees, the former entry/exit
area should be washed with soapy water to help remove residual
odors. The nest area should be filled with insulation or blocked
off with a similar material. Any future entry must be blocked (as
well as other potential areas) to insure that another swarm does
not select the same location.
of the bee colonies
It is sometimes possible to remove bee colonies from houses, trees or other
natural dwellings by transferring them into beekeeper hives. Bee colonies that
inhabit box hives, log gums or other equipment in which the combs are crosswise
or otherwise not contained properly by the frames might also be transferred
to hives with movable frames so they can be properly managed. In most states
it is illegal to keep bees in box hives, gums or crosscomb hives because such
colonies cannot be inspected for disease.
is preferable to transfer bees during the spring or early summer.
Colony populations will be smaller and the bees will have less
honey stores and brood comb than later in the year. Transferring
a colony early in the active season will also allow the bees time
to build up their colony population following transfer and leave
them enough time to collect sufficient stores for successful wintering.
a bee colony cannot be fully exposed, the adult bees may be trapped
into a dummy hive. To trap a colony, close all entrances except
one. Fashion a screen cone over the single remaining entrance that
will permit the exit but not a return entry of the bees to their
old home. This cone can be made of wire screening and should extend
12-18 inches outward, narrowing from several inches in diameter
to an outer opening of 3/8ths inch. Place a dummy hive supplied
with foundation or preferably a hive with one or more drawn combs
adjacent to the screen cone opening and hold it in place by a temporary
scaffolding. As the foraging bees exit their nest they will be
unable to return to their home and most will adopt the substitute
hive. After two or three days of trapping place a caged queen in
the dummy hive in her cage. Release her or allow the bees to release
her after several more days so the substitute hive may function
as a normal hive. In about two months, the substitute hive will
be a normal functioning colony and it can be removed from its temporary
position. Most of the bees from the original nest will have been
trapped with this arrangement and will have become inhabitants
of the new hive.
bees from buildings or trees may sometimes be accomplished by direct
exposure and transferred to a movable frame hive. After nest exposure,
the bees should be shaken or brushed into a new hive. Pieces of
comb with brood should be placed in frames and held by string or
rubber bands. This last transfer procedure is best done on a cool
day or night when the cool weather will help make them less active.
Hopefully, the queen can be transferred without injury. Check the
new hive in a couple of weeks to be sure a queen is present. If
not, introduce a new queen because your effort will be for naught
unless the new hive has a functioning queen.
bees from buildings or trees is always messy and frequently results
in numerous stings. Queens are often lost and many workers crushed
or drowned in honey. It is suggested that this last technique be
tried at least once and then a decision made as to its value in
transfer of bee colonies. To eliminate problem bees in structures
or bee trees it is usually much easier to kill the adult bees and
then expose their comb to wax moth and other pests for practical
bees from non-standard boxes or gums
Several methods may be used to transfer bees from crosscomb
hives, log gums, or other similar structures. Bees do not necessarily
have to be transferred with comb from their own home. Generally,
however, transferring first the bees and then including some of their
comb, especially brood comb, results in a more rapid recovery and
population increase in their new home.
The easiest method to accomplish transfer of bees into standard
movable comb equipment involves placing a standard hive body with
drawn comb, or foundation if comb is not available, on top of the
box, gum, etc. you wish to transfer. This can be done if the top
from the old colony can be removed or when you can somehow provide
large holes to permit bees access from old hive to new. With tape
or other material, close the area between box, gum, etc. below and
standard hive body above. Eventually the colony below will expand
upwards and begin rearing brood and storing honey in the upper hive
body. If done in the spring, the upper hive body should be nearly
filled with honey for winter. During the winter and early spring
of the next season, the cluster of bees will gradually move upward
while consuming the honey. Due to the normal decline in colony population
before the spring buildup, most of the bees will be in the upper
hive body next spring. At this time the lower crosscomb hive or box
can be removed.
may not have to wait until the following spring in all instances.
If you inspect the top hive body during the summer and find the
queen in the movable comb hive above, you can place a queen excluder
between the top hive body and the bottom box and provide an entrance
directly into the upper box. In three weeks all the brood will
hatch in the box below and the adult bees can be shaken or driven
from the lower box onto the ground or directly into the movable
comb hive and the transfer will be complete. Any honey remaining
can be cut and the bees allowed to rob if no disease is present.
Alternately, honey can be fitted into frames as described above
and given to the bees in their new home now properly supplied with
main advantage of transferring by expansion is that there is little
or no disturbance to the bee colony and it requires few manipulations
by the beekeeper. A disadvantage is that transferring is a slow