There are two phases to a honey bee colony development. The first is the swarm stage where approximately half of the established colony departs with the original queen to form a new colony. The remaining honey bees raise a new queen and continue the original colony. The act of swarming is how honeybees procreate. The swarm is just a temporary transitional phase until a new colony can be formed. Swarms usually find a location to hang and are usually about the size of a football. Often you will find swarms hanging in trees or on fences, picnic tables and even the sides of homes. This is a temporary location for the group to form while the scout bees hunt for a location to move into and form a permanent colony. Hanging swarms usually move to a permanent location within anywhere from a few hours to a few days of swarming. Depending on the height of the swarm to the ground, the swarm is the easiest to deal with.
The second stage is the actual forming of a colony. This is where the bees have decided to take up permanent residence and start building comb, raising brood, and storing nectar. They usually try to find a confined space with a minimal opening for an entrance. Often times they will take up residence in an old tree but more often they end up in much less convenient places like the walls or attic or your house. There are two methods, depending on the situation, that we employ for removing bees from a structure, trapping or cut out.
REMOVAL FROM WALLS / CUT OUT
The honey bee colony should be salvaged alive if possible. Honey bee swarms that have recently entered the wall of a structure, say for a day or so, can often be removed with little to no damage to the structure. The bees should not have had time to construct a significant amount of comb, produce much brood or store much honey unless a very strong nectar flow is in progress. Remember that if the bees have stored much honey in the wall and you kill the colony with a pesticide; 1) a foul odor is to be expected for several weeks in the vicinity of the decaying bees and 2) the honey and wax will remain attracting ants, mice and other pest. 3) honey and may ooze through the wall or ceiling when comb melts during hot weather and 4) foraging bees from another nearby managed or feral bee colony will be attracted to the honey in the wall and may cause other unnecessary colony demise or cause them to move in. The beekeepers at Peaked Hill Apiary L.L.C. will remove the bees and the honey comb, clearing out the void preventing another swarm from entering the same cavity the next swarm season and relieving the many problems with just "treating" honey bees with pesticide.
Peaked Hill Apiary L.L.C. uses a process called "neutralization" that is necessary to get the job done right and avoid future problems. To prevent future infestations, neutralization involves the complete physical removal of all bees (dead or alive), comb and honey from the wall while saving the colony and relocating it to our apiary. The removal process should be scheduled in the evening hours when all the colony's inhabitants are home and when no humans or pets are in the immediate area. After their removal a good wash down of the cavity with soapy water is done to remove all odors of the previous colony. When possible, we recommend leaving the void area open for a couple of weeks to allow drying and dissipation of colony odors. Depending on the exterior wall construction, the neutralization process may have to be conducted inside the structure, although exterior wall removal is preferred in most cases. In any case, our professionals will speak to you prior to any work done on your home. Again, the dimensions of the wall space occupied by the bee colony can normally be investigated in late evening by careful heat and noise observations by our beekeepers.
REMOVAL BY TRAPPING
Exterior stucco, brick or cement walls make normal removal impossible, especially if interior wall accessibility is not an option. Trapping bees out of the wall with a "one-way bee escape removal" is recommended when physically creating an opening in the structure is not feasible such as a brick or stone structures.There are some drawbacks to this method including, the process will take approimately six to eight weeks to complete and sometimes it is not successful. The trapping method requires that a one story hive be mounted as close as possible to the existing hive opening to collect the bees.
The beekeepers of Peaked Hill Apiary L.L.C. will return to do periodic checks to make sure the bees have not regained entry into the wall while the trapping process takes place. At the conclusion of trapping procedure we will return and treat all possible entry sites by sealing or plugging them to prevent re-colonization by future swarms. Unfortunately, this trapping procedure requires many visits to the site to finish the job. After a few weeks, the trap hive begins to thrive, and the original colony becomes very weak. At this point, the conical trap is removed. This allows bees from the trap hive to enter and steal any remaining nectar or honey from the weaker colony. Once the remaining nectar and honey has been removed by the bees from the trap hive the entrance may be sealed. The comb left behind in the wall will be highly attractive to scout bees in the future; therefore the structures owner should make annual inspections of the wall and refill any cracks or holes leading to the cavity.