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Step 1: Select which type of bee removal you need

WHICH DO YOU NEED HELP WITH?


Honeybees will build their nests in cavities, a tree in the woods is the best spot, but sometimes they decide to build in buildings.
These removals are more complicated and best accomplished by an experienced beekeeper.


Usually cost money
Difficult locations cost more
Don't hire pest control company
Must remove bees and comb



Bees can set up a home in your yard, but more often than not, these are temporary and a colony of bees will be there for a few hours or days.
The good news is that beekeepers will often come out to gather them for free. It's best to have them removed before they move into your neighbor's house.


Usually free
Can be done by most beekeepers
Hives inside tree cavities take time
No comb to removed



Honeybees are unpredictable and live in places that are hard to believe. This can either be a water meter, a tire or even an aircraft carrier.
Many of these places may not make sense to us, but the bees choose them for a reason that makes sense to them.


Can be free
Could be a swarm or full size colony
Difficult removals can cost money
Out of reach bees may not be removable


BUMBLE BEES, CARPENTER BEES, WASPS, HORNETS?

If you need other types of "bees" removed, a beekeeper may or may not be able to help you. There are a lot of different flying insects that seem like honey bees but are completely different. If you need these removed, click below to learn more.

Step 2: Confirm Your Situation So We Find The Right Beekeeper For You

BEE REMOVALS FROM YARDS

THIS IS THE MOST COMMON BEE REMOVAL NEEDED

When a colony of bees shows up outside, more often than not, it is a swarm of bees. A swarm is typically noticed as a cluster, rather than a group of thousands of bees in the air. A swarm of honeybees rests in a temporary home while scout bees look for a new home and this is likely what you are seeing. It can actually take several days for scout bees to find a nearby home that will meet their standards.

If you can answer yes, to any of these, you likely have a swarm of bees so click here to find out what will happen.


Do you see a clump or cluster of bees hanging on a tree limb or other object?
Did they show up for the first time today or yesterday?
Do you see thousands of bees collecting together, but not entering a cavity?
Are the bees staying in the same place day and night?
Do they seem surprisingly calm and docile?

Step 2: Confirm Your Situation So We Find The Right Beekeeper For You

BEE REMOVALS FROM BUILDINGS OR STRUCTURES

I'M GOING TO BE FRANK HERE, REMOVING BEES FROM BUILDINGS CAN BE DIFFICULT

Honeybees are cavity dwellers and naturally choose to live in places that are similar to an empty tree trunk. This can sometimes end up being your home or business and is a fairly common event. If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you likely have a full-size colony building a home in your home or business.


Has the colony of bees been present for longer than a couple of weeks?
Are the bees entering and exiting the space between two separate stories on the building?
Do you see bees coming and going from a hole, but can't see any comb?
Was a previous colony removed from a space that new bees are entering and exiting?
Have bees been working their way inside the building for multiple weeks?
Can you see any yellow, white, or brown comb?

Step 2: Confirm Your Situation So We Find The Right Beekeeper For You

BEE REMOVALS FROM OBJECTS

BEES CAN BUILD COLONIES IN ALL KINDS OF PLACES

Honeybees are cavity dwellers and naturally choose to live in places that are similar to an empty tree trunk. This can sometimes end up being your home or business and is a fairly common event. If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you likely have a full-size colony building a home in your home or business.


If the bees have been present for several weeks or longer, click here.
Has the colony only been around a couple of days or less and not going into a building, click here.
Do you see any yellow, brown, or white comb, click here.
Do you see bees going in and out of a small hole in a building or in a tree? Click here.

A swarm of bees is a group of bees collected on an object and is typically only there for a couple of hours, possibly a couple of days. They are little to no threat to people or pets around them and typically go away on their own without any intervention. Honey bee swarms fall safely into that old advice of, don't bother them and they won't bother you.

The vast majority of bee removal requests are for bee swarms and not for full-size colony removals. Here is the best part, they are typically removed for free!
It is helpful to reach out to a local beekeeper to come and collect them, even though they will go away on their own without one. This ensures they move into a home where they are wanted and not into you or somebody else's home.
To read more about what a swarm of bees is, read here.
To nerd out on how and why bees swarm, click here.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SWARM REMOVALS

What are bees doing when they swarm?

Somewhere within a half-mile of you, there is a full-size colony that has split in half. Half the colony leaves with the old queen and the remaining half is left inside their hive with a new queen. This is how bees reproduce and multiply in the wild. It's completely normal and a very fascinating thing to watch.

Should I be worried if the swarm is in my yard?

While a swarm sounds scary, a swarm of bees is actually very very unlikely to sting. Pop culture makes us be afraid of bees, but they are actually very passive. They fall into the category of leave them alone and they will leave you alone. The reason a swarm is unlikely to sting is that they do not have any comb, wax, baby bees, or honey to defend.

They are only there temporarily and don't want to die (a bee dies if they sting you). So leave them alone, call a beekeeper (link below) and watch what they do. They may not be around for long.

What are they doing?

Inside a swarm of bees is a queen that is basically along for the ride. The bees that used to be responsible for foraging for nectar are actively trying to find a new location for their swarm to move to. They are hanging together to stay warm and to keep the queen safe. Think of it as a rest-stop on the highway for the bees.

I'm allergic, should I spray them?

The bees do not want to sting and are likely to leave in the next day or two. Spraying them with wasp spray or water will only agitate them and will actually make the colony fly more. Just call a beekeeper and leave them alone. A beekeeper will be happy to come to get them that day for free. If you are allergic, just give the swarm 20 yards of space and you will not have an issue.

What if I want to start beekeeping and use this swarm?

Swarms are a great way to start a new hive, but they aren't a great way to start your first hive. Taking care of a colony of bees takes a lot of planning and learning to see if it is right for you. It's best to learn from the experience and talk with the beekeeper who comes and gets them. That beekeeper will be a good contact to have as you get started.

If you want to get into beekeeping, read our Beekeeping 101 series.

Can I help the beekeeper remove the swarm?

When the beekeeper arrives, they will be able to assess the situation and tell you if you can help. Swarms are very calm and it is likely you will be able to walk up and look at them with the beekeeper before they start the removal. Just ask if they have an extra veil so you can watch.

How many bees are in the swarm?

A swarm is usually about 40-60% of the colony it came from. So a very large swarm will be around 30,000 bees. But most swarms around in the range of 10,000-20,000 bees.

What kind of bees are in the swarm?

A swarm of honey bees contains 1 queen, mostly female worker bees and a very small amount of male drones.

The swarm is spread all over the ground like a puddle of water, why is that?

When a swarm of bees is on the ground, it usually is because the queen is damaged and cannot fly. The colony will stay with the queen, even though she is not in charge of where the swarm goes. They need her, so they are not going to leave her.

It looks like they are in two different clumbs on the same tree, what's going on?

Sometimes a swarm is so large the actual weight of the bees is so much that they can't hold themselves together. When that happens, the swarm may spread out among branches until they all fly off.

What happens when a beekeeper comes to get the swarm?

When the beekeeper arrives, they will be able to assess the situation and tell you if you can help. Swarms are very calm and it is likely you will be able to walk up and look at them with the beekeeper before they start the removal. Just ask if they have an extra veil so you can watch.A swarm of bees collects in different places, so no swarm removal is the same. Sometimes it's on the ground, 100' feet in a tree, on a mailbox, a car bumper, or in a bush. How a beekeeper gets to a swarm will vary, but they are wanting to capture the entire colony along with the queen. This can be done by simply shaking the swarm into a box or they can actually capture the queen and place her in a box next to it. Over the period of a couple of hours, the bees will go to the queen and the box can be moved that evening.

Sometimes the beekeeper will need a ladder or they may bring a specialized vacuum for sucking them up. Either way, it's fascinating to watch a true pro capture the swarm.

How much is it going to cost?

Most swarm removals are done for free, especially if they are easy to get to. It's only when the colony has moved into the building that the beekeeper will charge to remove them. And most beekeepers do not provide this service.

A beekeeper may charge if they need to drop what they are doing that minute to come to get them or if the bees are in a public place that is interfering with business. The vast majority are done for free, but it's good to ask.


IF YOU HAVE A SWARM OF BEES, DO:

1. Call a local beekeeper and get them to come to remove it that day before the swarm leaves
2. Watch the outside of the swarm to see if you can see a bee doing the waggle dance
3. Keep other people or animals from accidentally disturbing the swarm
4. Think about becoming a beekeeper
5. Keep an eye on the swarm in case it moves to another location

IF YOU HAVE A SWARM OF BEES, DO NOT:

1. Spray the colony with any type of insect killer; swarms are very unlikely to sting
2. Spray the swarm with water to "calm them down"; this will irritate the swarm and cause it to spread out
3. Disturb the colony by throwing anything at it as this will only cause them to be defensive
4. Go watch youtube videos so you can learn beekeeping real quick (so much wrong with this video)
5. Call a pest control company because they often won't do anything with bees, but will still charge you

The time a colony has been present is the best way to judge if you have a swarm or a full-size colony. If the colony has been in the location for a week or longer, then you likely have a colony of bees building a new home. These colonies are often noticed for the first time during the spring when the colony's population is increasing.
If the bees have only been entering and exiting a crevice in a building for two days or less and you are confident they were not present longer, it's possible that a swarm of bees is investigating the area and has not moved in yet. If that is the case, blocking the entrance to the crevice, even just temporarily, can help stop the swarm from moving in.

These are common sights when a colony decides to build its nest inside a building.

A nest between floors on a split level home

A colony that entered through a hole chewed by a squirrel

An open air nest with the comb easily visible

A thermal image of the heat produced by a bee nest

The term used by beekeepers for removing bees from a structure is called a "Cut Out". This implies the colony is building comb, has a queen that is laying eggs, and has been in its location for at least a week.

This video shows a very basic colony removal from a wall. This colony was only likely living there for a month or two and was still very small. The location and size of this colony makes it very easy to remove because the garage can be opened and the room doesn't require any special attention.

WHAT IS HAPPENING WHEN BEES MOVE IN?

After a colony of bees has chosen a new nest site, the entire swarm moves into the cavity and immediately starts building comb. The queen starts laying eggs in the comb, and foragers start venturing out for pollen and nectar. All of the worker bees start their different jobs and the colony continues to expand through the warm months to fill the cavity with more comb, honey, and bees as needed.

Once this process is started, it can become very difficult and expensive to get the colony to move out. There are not any quick fixes for this and it will take time to get them removed. The colony will become defensive of their home and are more likely to sting when bothered.

WHAT DOES A BEE REMOVAL SPECIALIST DO?

When hiring a specialist to come in and remove a colony of bees, there are certain things you should expect them to do. A specialist will often use a thermal camera to find the nest in the cavity. They will judge if it would be better to remove the nest from the inside or from the outside of the building. If from the inside, the removal site will need to be blocked off from the rest of the home, either with drop sheeting or by closing the door.
A specialist will often use a specialized bee vacuum to suck the bees off the comb before removing the comb. 100% of the comb should be removed along with all of the bees. The cavity should be filled up with insulation or other material to keep a colony from moving back in and the exterior entrance should be sealed with caulk, screen, or another object.
They will transport the colony to a new location where they are wanted and will leave you with a bee-free home. Some bee removalists will put any materials back up that were removed like siding or drywall, but not all will do this. So it may be necessary to hire somebody to do the trim work to get the building back to normal.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BEE HIVE REMOVALS

Can I just close off the entrance and trap them inside?

Blocking the entrance is only temporary and the bees will likely find another exit, possibly to the inside of the building. Plus, when disturbing the entrance of the colony, the bees are easily irritated.

Can I spray bee quick, bee go or other bee removal aids on the hive?

The bee removal aids are designed to be used by beekeepers for removing bees from the comb with honey on them. They won't move bees off comb with eggs or larva on them. The bees are too committed to taking care of their nest to abandon it.

What happens if I spray wasp spray in the entrance?

You will kill a lot of honeybees when doing this, which is obviously the goal. But the way that bees build their nest, it is protected from the spray and the queen will still survive. The population will reduce significantly, but they will likely find a new entrance and move the nest away from any of the areas the hornet spray touched.

If the queen is killed, what will happen next?

If the queen is killed, honeybees have the ability to raise a new queen from an egg in the nest. Killing the queen sets back the colony, but they are able to recover.

What happens if I can sucesffuly kill 100% of the honeybees?

If the colony dies inside the colony either on purpose or naturally, what is left behind in the cavity is comb, honey, pollen, and dead bees. These are all very popular with roaches, ants, and other bugs. There is a bug called the small hive beetle that likes to lay eggs in the unprotected comb and this will actually ferment the honey. The honey ferments and then starts to run out of the comb, possibly into the dry wall or through the floors. It's not pretty.

Are honey bees protected?

Honey bees are not a protected species and there is no law that say they cannot be killed.

Is it possible to lure the colony out of the colony?

Once a colony starts the process of building a new nest, they are extremely unlikely to all leave on their own. They would either need to die or they will need to be removed from the colony. Sometimes in the spring and summer, the colony will send out a swarm of bees, but this is only half of the colony. The cavity will still have a queen, comb, honey and everything else it needs to live.

Can somebody come and save the bees for free?

Some beekeepers will come and remove the bees from the building for free. It depends on the motivation of the beekeeper and how difficult the nest is to get to. Open-air nests, while not common are very easy to remove and may be done for free. The vast majority of beekeepers who remove bees from buildings for free are very new at it and just trying to get experience. They are not insured and most likely don't know what they are doing. Every bee removalist has to start somewhere, but just know that if they are doing it for free, it's likely because they are practicing in your home. If they get in over their head on the project, you may run into a bigger issue.

Where do colonies typically build their nest in the home?

Honeybees are cavity dwellers and prefer a dark space protected from the weather. In a home or building, this is likely between the studs in a wall, the space between floor joists, in the soffit under the roof, or in the attic. Bees will build their nest in these spaces if they can get access to them. They typically make access to the cavity in the building construction where one floor meets another, a change in siding material, or where an addition meets the old construction.

How much should it cost?

For an experienced beekeeper who has been doing removing bees from buildings for years, expect it to cost an average of $600. It can be less if the nest is very new or very easy to reach. It can cost more if scaffolding is needed or the colony is behind a brick or concrete block wall.

Most beekeepers charge a flat rate that covers the first hour or two, then charge for additional time after that.

How long does it take to remove bees?

Bees can be removed in as little as 2 hours or the whole process can take 1-2 days.

What are my options if I don't want my wall cut into?

The next best option is to do something called a "trap-out". This process takes over a month to finish, but it leaves the structure completely undamaged. This is helpful for trees that you want to save or buildings that cannot be damaged for historical or cosmetic reasons.

Why do beekeepers charge if they get the bees, honey and wax from the nest?

A typical removal from a building will take an average of 5 hours of labor, plus prep/cleanup time, travel time, and the time to re-establish the colony.

There are also many specialized tools for safely removing bees and the knowledge for how to use them. Often, an assistant is brought in to help with the removal and the colony of bees itself may only be worth $125-200. It could easily be worth $0, just as easily as it is worth $200.

The honey that may be removed as well is not sellable and there may not be any honey depending on the time of year.

Experienced removers (the ones you want) often have insurance and licenses, as well as overhead and vehicle costs associated with conducting be removals.

These costs are significant and any person can recognize that removing bees is a real service that is needed, especially for those with bees in their home.

Why don't beekeepers just come and save the bees for free?

The colony of bees removed from the building can have some value to the beekeeper. But it is more valuable for the property owner to have them removed than it is for the beekeeper to have the bees. This is especially true in areas with Africanized bees in the southern US.

There are much easier and cheaper ways to get bees than removing them from buildings, which is widely considered the most difficult way to obtain bees.

If I don't do anything, what will happen?

A viable option if the nest of bees is so high up or in an area that doesn't bother you. The colony of bees will continue to grow through the warm months and retract in size during the cold months. You may actually go months without seeing them during the winter.

In the spring, the colony will send swarms out (that's how bees reproduce) and you'll often see them in your yard as a ball of bees before they move on. The colony may die on its own which will make removing the nest much easier. You will know if the colony has died if there aren't any bees entering or exiting the entrance when the temperatures are about 60°F.

It's best to remove the comb even if the colony is dead so it doesn't attract pests. It will also very likely attract another swarm into the same cavity as a swarm will see it as a completely furnished home if the comb is left in there.

What would happen if the bees just left on their own or if we killed the colony?

Comb is full of food that other organisms like to eat. When a colony leaves behind it's come, it leaves behind all this food that is a huge attractant to other animals. You should expect cockroaches, ants, mice and other small animals to come to the space to eat.

How long does it take to have the bees removed?

The majority of calls for bee removals take place in the spring and summer. This is because the colony expands its population in the spring and they are easy to see. Because of this, bee removal experts can get very busy and it could take several weeks to have the bees removed. This typically isn't something a beekeeper can respond to the same day.

They are getting into my house, what do I do?

Bees are attracted to the light and when they are in a dark space like between walls or floors, a light source can help draw the bees inside the building.

If you notice bees getting into a room, try to turn the light off to that room during the night so that the bees are attracted to the space. This also applies to windows in the room as well. You want to the room to be as dark as possible to keep bees from wanting to get into the room.

CARPENTER BEE, WASP, HORNET, BUMBLE BEE AND YELLOW JACKET REMOVALS

GROUND BEE AND OTHER SOLITARY BEE REMOVAL

Honey bees are only one of the 20,000 types of bees in the world. The vast majority are solitary bees who mostly live on their own. These types of bees often live in communities that are near each other, but not connected. Like a hotel, not a house.
These bees often nest in between twigs or in soft soil. They are harmless and extremely unlikely to sting and should not be any cause for concern. A bee remover cannot easily relocate these bees to another location and will not attempt to.
Our solitary bees are very important to our environment and if they can be left alone to pollinate our environment, that would be best.

WASP REMOVAL

Wasps are similar to bees in some ways but are actually not bees at all. They are different in appearance, colony size, demeanor, and diet. The bottom line, with these wasps, is they are jerks. Their main diet is other insects, unlike bees that only eat plants.
Wasps are rather defensive when you get near their nest and much more likely to sting than a honey bee is. They also can sting multiple times where a honey bee can only sting once before dying. These cannot be relocated and are only killed with wasp spray. This type of spray found on Amazon shoots from far away and foams which is helpful.
You will typically see their nests in the eaves of homes, but their nest size is relatively small compared to a honeybee nest.

CARPENTER BEE REMOVAL

Carpenter bees are probably the bee the type of bee most people are familiar with. These bees get their name because they prefer to tunnel out channels in wood and make their small nests in your deck, patio or siding. It's amazing how much damage they can cause in such a short time.
They are most often noticed in the spring when their population increases from one to about 10; still very small compared to honeybees. Over time, they can cause a lot of damage to a wooden structure.
The best way to deal with carpenter bees is to prevent them from moving in. Carpenter bees prefer to build their nests in unfinished wood. So a layer of new paint will help. Carpenter bee traps are also very helpful for keeping their numbers from increasing too much. They are very cheap and can be found on Amazon (This one works particularly well).
To remove an existing nest is not very hard, but it can take a lot of work to remove many of them if they are hard to reach. They cannot be relocated easily, so the nest is typically poisoned. Prevention is the best way to deal with carpenter bee nests.

YELLOW JACKET OR HORNET REMOVAL FROM THE GROUND OR AIR

Yellow Jackets are probably the most dangerous of removals because they can sting multiple times, are rather defensive, and can live in large colonies. They are not bees and actually feed on other types of insects where honey bees only feed on plants. Their colony can number in the thousands and should not be taken lightly.
Yellow Jackets / Hornets both make paper nests inside of a cavity. The cavity can be inside a house, in the ground, or even in the open air. Their open-air nests are commonly confused with a honey bee nest thanks to Winnie The Pooh and the movie "My Girl".
Their population remains rather high throughout the year compared to carpenter bees, bumblebees, or solitary bees. Their nest will actually get larger year after year, so it's important to deal with a hornet nest before it gets too large. Because their colony can be very large, it's important to take proper protection when dealing with them.
A pest control company will be more adept at dealing with yellow jacket nests removals than a beekeeper, but these can be done by a beekeeper. The colony cannot be relocated and is typically exterminated completely. If the colony is in the ground or in a small cavity, foaming wasp or hornet spray like this is what you want. Otherwise, call an exterminator who can safely remove the nest.

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