Wild honey bees have
lived here for several years

The following is an account of how we removed wild honey bees from inside the roof cavity of this shed (without killing them).

Our first task was to identify where the colony was located in the shed. Time to light up the smoker!

Smoke causes bees to prepare for flight by gorging themselves on their stored honey. The honey stored in their honey stomachs will last them long enough to establish a new hive.

The wild honey bees appeared to only use one entrance, so we began to remove solid wood siding from the gable end of the shed.

It soon became apparent that the bees were housed further inside the roof cavity.

We had two choices...we could begin to remove the roof itself from the outside or we could remove the corrugated roofing material that served as the ceiling from inside the shed.

Since my bee removals are free, if a structure must be damaged to gain access to the bees, my clients agree to repair or replace these areas themselves.

However, in the interest of treating others the way I would like to be treated, I often defer to the homeowners requested course of action. In this case, Chris suggested that we leave the roof intact and attempt to get to the bees from inside the shed.

After making some room and prying the sheet metal loose, we came upon the wild honey bees and their colony. It's time to start the bee vac.

Vacuum bees off the comb

While the bees are gorging themselves on honey in preparation to flee, begin vacuuming the bees into the hive bodies. Pulling as many of the bees into the bee vac will decrease the volume of flying bees and will aid in the process of cutting out the comb.

Taking care to move carefully so as not to injure bees or damage brood comb will help to ensure a successful honey bee extraction.

More importantly, moving slowly and with deliberation will assist you to locate the queen with greater ease. The queen will move away from light and activity. If the queen is not seen, she will likely be sucked into the hive bodies via the bee vac...along with all her sisters and daughters.

Remove comb

Once most of the accessible bees have been swept into the bee vac, begin removing one comb at a time. Starting from the outer comb, cut off the comb at the attachment to the roof and vacuum off all the bees from the comb.

Place the comb (containing honey, brood and pollen) into a container and cover with a lid.

Move systematically from one end of the colony to the other, harvesting one comb at a time, vacuuming off the bees and placing the comb into the sealed container.

Clean up

When the last comb has been harvested, there will continue to be a build up of forager bees returning from their venture. When they discover that their home is gone, they will begin to cluster near the entrance or where the comb was located.

Continue to vacuum these clusters of bees into the hive bodies using the bee vacuum. Sometimes one of these clusters may include a stray queen, so it might pay to avoid being in a hurry.

In the meantime, scrape residue beeswax off of the roof and put away unused tools while the bees continue collecting in clusters from their trip.

Equipment Used

  • Bee Vacuum
  • (2) 8-frame medium supers containing...
  • ** (2) frames of brood
  • ** (2) frames of honey
  • ** (2) frames of Bee bread
  • ** (2) frames of drawn-out comb
  • ** (8) empty frames
  • Extension cord(s)
  • Extension ladder(s)
  • Bee veil with gloves
  • Serrated knife or hive tool
  • Smoker with fuel
  • Hammer(s)
  • Crowbar(s)
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Hole Saw
  • Cordless drill with bits


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Bee Removal Stories

Bee removals are extremely rewarding.

Not only is the beekeeper providing a service to the resident, but he/she is also saving bees and building up their apiary. An added benefit is the genetic diversity gained through the introduction of potential feral colonies.

Here are some of my recent adventures...

Wild Honey Bees in Mansfield

Resources

Trial and Tribulations of a hobby beekeeper