Rex Smith’s Honeybee Removal – 2016
If you are in need of having a honeybee swarm picked up, or a full colony of bees removed from a structure – please see the following links for my contact information: (These same links are in the top menu bar on this website as well.)
Also please understand that most bee removal specialists are overwhelmed beginning in March with calls. In peak season I personally receive between 30-40 calls per day – and do 1-3 full removals per day. If I do not answer the phone, I am probably in a hive – so please do leave a message and I will return the call as quickly as possible.
Frequently asked questions (and my answers):
An out-of-town military serviceman had been stationed on the east coast – and while renovations are being done to his Texas home – it was decided that it was TIME to take out the honeybees, so that other repairs could proceed.
He mentioned to me that he knew the bees had been there a while – (years) – but since they were up high – they really had not bothered anyone – so left them…. to grow… and steal… (the – these little ladies were stealing from their community!! Much of the 5+ year old comb had GREEN honey in it. I do believe they may have found the local snow-cone stand syrup and brought it in to consume! Who doesn’t like a snow-cone on a hot day? 😉 )
Once opened, here is a short snippet of the view I had
Though it was HOT outside (102+ deg. F) – these bees really were docile. The video looks chaotic and unnerving – however the bees were NOT attacking me.
Once finished – the vinyl soffit panels were put back into place. One the way home, I was hoping to stop in for a cool-down beverage at The Forge in Ben Wheeler – however it was still early in the day – so they were closed. So I took a quick snapshot of the town’s little wedding chapel across the street.
Another beekeeper received an EMERGENCY call about honeybees that needed to be removed from a telephone utility box. He was unable to make it – so contacted me to see if I was available. I was able to respond for the company – and take care of the bees.
The box as I approached it:
The insides… Uh – were a mess of wires. This took TIME and precision work to not disrupt anyone’s home telephone service (does anyone actually HAVE a land-line any more?)
My main tools for this removal were the smoker – to run the bees out of the box and collect them – and a LONG carving knife that reached way down to carefully trim out the comb.
Once finished, the wires were tucked back up into the cover, and I was on my way.
This rental home in Dallas had an occupant who was had failed to pay the landlord rent to live in the space. So, the eviction process was started!
Once the soffit was opened, It was apparent the bees had been here from a late fall swarm from the year prior. The bees were removed from the home, and told not to come back onto the property. Hopefully the homeowner will follow through with a restraining order. Lol…
Seriously, though.. These bees were pretty docile. The space was filled with insulation after the comb and bees were removed, and the homeowner will be performing his own repairs to the soffit.
I received a call from Texas singer-songwriter Kim Townsend about honeybees that were in her family home just outside of the DFW Metroplex. She had originally called a hobby beekeeper, who got in DEEP over his head – and he had not even started a removal yet. Unprepared, he tried to pry up flashing with a pry-bar, without using the proper tools (i.e. smoker at a minimum). The bees let him know that he was in their territory! 😉
When the bees came out to meet him – he immediately declared them to be “Africanized” and told her that she needed to call a professional. I’m glad she did. When I performed the removal, the bees were docile, and amicable to moving to a new home.
The soffit was opened up, and the comb exposed… I knew they would probably be hiding in the upper-level soffit as well, and suspected some comb would be up there – and I was correct, There was another 10-12 pieces of brood and honey comb up in the higher portion of the soffit.
Once the bees were fully removed, the soffit space was filled with insulation, then new soffit boards were put into place, and the seams caulked.
Kim had been interested in beekeeping – and has had an empty hive – just waiting for the right opportunity. Though the bees I put in her hive were not from her own home – she could now have a hive of her own to manage and learn from.
Bees were entering the balcony wall of this condo – and needed to be removed. The walls are appx. 1″ thick cement/stucco – so I had to use a special blade to open the wall to access the comb.
Once their void-space was opened – these bees were VERY docile.
After the removal was complete, I filled the void with insulation, and the stucco was put back in place – and the homeowner can have it cosmetically repaired at his leisure, now that the bees have been re-homed.
During the removal – I saw the queen – however lost sight of her when I removed the piece of comb she was on.
I was collecting the last of the bees after the removal was complete – and FOUND HER – up on top of the wall. With a small entourage keeping her company.
Royalty? No… These bees were highly aggressive when it was time to remove them from their home. At the peak of a 2nd floor soffit – protected from the sun by a high tree canopy.
The comb went about 2 feet over the living space of the house – as well as over the soffit portion overhanging the edge of the house. I wound up wearing 2 veils for this removal (I had a small tear in my main veil – and the bees were aggressively entering the tear – so I doubled-up)
After the bees were removed, the void was filled with fiberglass insulation, and the soffit was reassembled.
This colony looks to have been here for several months – from the comb – I’d say they probably were an EARLY spring swarm that moved in.
The bees had entry to a joist space over this porch area. They have grown substantially in numbers since the homeowner noticed them.
Once the lower trim and first board were removed (whole boards across for this removal – no cutting of the boards – by request of the homeowner) the joist where the bees were was located. The boards are tongue and groove cedar planks – and great care and attention was required to not break the fitting to each other – so that it would look right when re-installed.
They wound up having comb that reached up to 4-board heights. (sorry – no pics of the whole comb). These bees were of VERY good demeanor, and should be a great bee-yard addition.
After the bee removal – the void space was filled on ALL the joist spaces to about 3′ tall – across the whole porch.
And finally – the boards were put back into place, and the trim board replaced – but nailed down tightly to prevent future intrusion by bees.
One of the first questions I ask of a homeowner with bees is: “How long have they been there?”. Many times, the answer will be “I’m really not sure – maybe from last year or early this spring”. And occasionally I’ll hear “They just moved in this week – come get them NOW! It’s an emergency!!”
This particular case – was that the homeowner admitted that they had only recently (in the last week) *noticed* the bees – and they really didn’t know how long they had been there. A person performing a removal would MUCH rather hear this honesty – then the insistence that bees have been in there for only a day or so – only to open it up and find 10-20 full combs that are brown to black – indicating that the comb had been there for a matter of years.
These bees were fairly high in the air. 2nd floor soffit. (click pics for larger versions)
Once the soffit was carefully opened – it was evident that the bees had been there a *bit* longer than a week or so. The texture and color of the comb indicates that they had probably been there since last fall.
In all – there were 13 combs removed.
The brood and honeycomb were tall – Appx 20″ tall at the back (as they followed the steep roof line).
After the removal was complete, the void space was filled with fiberglass insulation, their entry hole was filled and repaired, and the soffit was put back in place.
All in a good day’s work!
I often am asked : What will happen if I just leave the bees”, or “What if we wait?”.
The following pics are a graphic example of one possible scenario that can (and does) occur.
Scene: In October of 2015, the homeowner observed bees swarming, and moving into a 2nd floor peak soffit area of his home. I was called, and a removal date was set for mid October. I arrived, and upon opening of the soffit – the bees were not found – they were actually in the roof line – above a finished-out 2nd story room.
The homeowner was made aware of the situation, and the options available. I could (a) open up the drywall inside the house – which would have been the easiest method at the time because of the pitch of the roof. or (b) – I could remove a section of roof shingles and decking above the colony.
The customer opted to wait. I hadn’t heard back from him until a month ago (June 2016) – when he called to let me know that the house was to be re-roofed, and he was ready for the bees to come out – but if it could be coordinated with the roofer, so that the decking could be opened up and re-roofed at the same time.
We are NOW at the summer solstice. The sun is farther north in the sky than it was in October. The bees did not realize that their home would no longer be protected by the trees above in the heat of summer. The comb melted, and dropped onto the drywall ceiling of the room below. From the appearance of the comb and it’s condition – I’d say the comb dropped about a week ago. It was a NASTY MESS. (click any of the photos for a larger view)
A layer or two removed:
And the REAL nastiness is exposed:
Yes – the black in the bottom is the drywall – where honey and wax fell – and drained/dripped and seeped from the roof joist space – and impregnated the drywall. Note also – the Small Hive Beetle larvae, and also Wax Moth larvae. Yes – those are “maggots” – just not from flies. The stench of the mess was horrible.
The mess filled (2) 5-gallon buckets with comb that was pretty nasty. Larvae, stench, etc…
After cleaning it all up, and scraping out everything possible, the space was filled with insulation, so that there would be no void available for bees to occupy in the future. And the rest was left for the roofing crew to complete.
My view from the peak of the 2nd story roof peak:
Kim Flottum, author for Bee Culture: The Magazine of American Beekeeping – will be presenting tomorrow (Monday 13 June 2016) at the Collin County Hobby Beekeepers Assn. monthly meeting. Click HERE for Kim’s website
From his bio page:
After receiving a degree in horticulture from UW Madison, Kim Flottum worked four years in the USDA Honey Bee Research Lab, studying pollination ecology. After that, he spent two years raising acres of fruits and vegetables, where bees played a large role. He brings this experience, plus nearly 20 years of writing and editing articles for beekeepers in the monthly magazine Bee Culture. He is the publisher of books on honey bee pests and diseases, marketing, queen production, beekeeping history, beginning beekeeping, and the classic industry reference, The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture.
The meetings are held on the Collin College campus on the 2nd Monday of the month, in the Conference Center of the Central Park Campus – at 2400 Community Ave., McKinney, Texas. Meetings start at 6:30pm.
Collin County Hobby Beekeepers Assn website.