A bee swarm can consist of from 1,500 to 30,000 bees including the queen, workers and drones. When such a swarm settles in a tree or a hole in your attic, they can quickly become a nuisance. The safest way to remove them is to hire a beekeeper to take the hive away. Some may even do it for free in order to acquire another hive. If you can't find a beekeeper, though, you may have to do it yourself. You will, however, need some basic beekeeper equipment.
Things You'll Need
- Beekeeper's veil
- Protective suit
- Leather gloves
- Bee-killing chemical
- Pump sprayer
- Flower bed hand rake and spade
- Small chain saw
- Paintable sealer/caulk
- Foam spray insulation
Moving the Hive
Hire a beekeeper. Contact your county agricultural extension office. They can provide you with a list of local beekeepers that may help you remove the swarm. The earlier in the season you remove the swarm, the better. Beekeepers prefer to acquire May and June swarms. Those acquired in July or later will not have time to establish themselves before winter and are of little use to the beekeeper.
Don a protective suit, gloves, hood and veil, if you have to remove the bees yourself. Make certain there are no gaps, holes or openings in your outfit. Nothing is quite as uncomfortable as having several angry bees inside your suit with you.
Place an empty beehive or similar suitable container on the ground near the swarm. There should be at least 15 liters of storage space cavity to attract the swarm and induce the bees to establish a nest.
Kindle smoke in the smoker according to directions and smoke up the swarm to calm them a bit. Don't overdo it. You don't want to knock them out. Dislodge bees with a tool or stick as they come out of the entrance to the swarm or the main entrance to the hive. As the bees fall to the ground near your backup hive or container they will become active again and begin to move into the more attractive location you've set up as a potential hive.
Continue dislodging the bees in the swarm. Try to find the queen and move her to the new hive. As the worker begin to find the new hive, they will fan a special scent with their wings to tell the other bees where the new, more attractive hive is located. You must get the queen moved to the new site or the bees will not stay there.
Wait until after dark for the bees to settle before attempting to move the trap hive to its new location. Duct tape over the opening to keep the bees inside while you move the hive box.
Spray the nest with a bee-killing insecticide if you can't move the hive or you decide to simply kill the swarm. Spray insecticide through the flight hole and apply a dust-type insecticide all over any exposed part of the nest. Continue killing the bees until there is no more activity. If the hive itself is deep inside the tree, enlarge the entry hole with the chain saw so you can spray everything in the cavity.
Fill the cavity with foam spray insulation once the swarm is removed entirely or all of the bees have been killed. Seal the flight hole and any other cracks or openings in the hive with paintable caulk and paint over the area to discourage bees from re-establishing their nests there.
Tips & Warnings
- If the bees do not have young or food stores, they do not behave as defensively and have to be provoked before they will attack an intruder. The sooner you attempt to remove a new swarm, the better -- preferably before they begin building honeycombs and laying eggs.
- Hire an exterminator if you cannot kill all the bees. They will re-establish themselves in short order if you don't get them all and leave the queen.
- The heart of the hive is often quite far from the flight hole. Tap on the side of the tree until you hear angry buzzing. That's the central hive. You may have to drill a hole in the tree or cut an opening with the chain saw at that point to inject insecticide if you are trying to kill them.
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images