Bees are not pets, they do not have names, they do not know who you are and most likely they do not even like you. If you had someone taking the roof off your house every few days you wouldn't stick around long either. |
The need for managing bee swarms or hives depends on the location and whether the bees are establishing a hive. Swarms moving on without establishing a hive aren't a concern. However, bees establishing a colony in a home need to be removed.
Preventing Establishment of a Colony in Your Home
Sometimes it's difficult to determine whether a honey bee cluster on the side of a building is simply resting there or moving, one by one, through a hole into an inner portion of a building. If the cluster size is shrinking but hasn't flown away, chances are they're moving in. When the bees first arrive, they are short on food and have to build combs from wax they produce from the honey they are carrying. They must continue to go outside to forage for nectar for the colony to survive.
At this point, they can be "locked in" their new home with screen, steel wool, or something else through which they can't chew to escape. If sealed in, they will die in place over the next week or two. However, trapped bees will search around between the walls trying to find a new way out. Some of them are likely to find their way into the living quarters, especially by following beams of nighttime room lighting. Bees don't fly in the dark, but they will fly to the windows the next morning and stay there most of the day while they die of dehydration. You can safely suck up these bees with a vacuum cleaner hose. Remember there may be live bees in the bag for a couple days after they've been vacuumed up.
Removing Established Colonies from Your Home
Extracting honey bees from buildings is considerably more difficult than collecting swarm clusters. When the colony is first established, only a few pounds of adult bees are present, but these bees rapidly build combs, collect honey, and begin to rear more bees. A well-established colony may have up to 100 pounds of honey, many pounds of adult and developing bees, and many beeswax combs. Removing such as nest is a challenge. The first step is to determine the exact location of the combs and size of the colony.
Although honey bees can be killed in place inside buildings by using pesticides that are labeled for killing bees inside of structures, this removal option often leads to undesirable consequences. (Note: These chemicals are available only to licensed pest control operators.) If the adult bees fall into a large pile, they may hold their body moisture and rot in place, producing a very bad odor. Liquid from the decomposing mass frequently penetrates the structure, leading to costly replacements.
If the colony is well established, there are further issues associated with killing the colony. Unattended brood can also rot and become very odorous. Unattended honey stores can absorb moisture and ferment, creating gas that causes the cappings holding honey in the cells to burst. Gravity will start moving the honey down attached surfaces until it encounters a horizontal impediment, such as a window frame, doorframe, firebreak, ceiling, or floor. Honey then seeps through the drywall, leading to large amounts of cleanup and expensive replacement. If pesticides were used to kill the bees, then the honey, wax and, dead bees are contaminated and must be handled as hazardous waste.
A better procedure than applying insecticides, especially if you have a bee controller or beekeeper who is willing to help, may be to eliminate the bees without killing them. First the beekeeper will need to locate the nest by tapping the wall and listening for the hum of the colony. Some beekeepers rely on stethoscopes to find the edges of the nest. Others drill extremely small holes in the wall and insert a fine wire to find the periphery of the nest. To take honey bees and their combs from the nesting spot requires opening a fairly large hole in some portion of the building. That is best done by a professional bee control contractor so that the hole can be easily closed after the bees are removed.
When arranging a bee removal, be sure you have an understanding of what will be done. Will the bees simply be killed in place—not the best idea, but cheaper—or will the cavity be opened, cleaned out of bees and combs, filled with insulation, reclosed along with all possible entrances, and refinished? A definitive job includes all of these steps but can become expensive.
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