Imagine this scenario: You are out enjoying a nice spring day mowing your lawn when all of the sudden your peace and tranquility are interrupted by something bumping you on the head. The bumps come more frequently and aggressively. All of the sudden your ears, nose, and back of your neck are burning and your face has swollen. You’ve been stung by bees!
Many homeowners call us with this scenario. The otherwise mundane household chore has turned dangerous. For some a bee sting represents a life or death situation. Between 1 and 3 percent of the population will experience anaphylaxis (a.k.a. shock) after a bee sting. For these individuals, an Epi Pen prescribed by their doctor and a call to emergency personnel can mean the difference between life and death. For most individuals, bee stings are often as painful as scorpion or wasp stings. Still, this can be deceptive. Wasp often live in colonies of a dozen or so adults. Scorpions are typically solitary. Bees, on the other hand, have thousands of bees, each with a specific job meant to preserve the life of the hive.
So, when a homeowner finds a colony of bees have taken up residence in the eaves of their house, their favorite live oak tree, or a bird house, they may be tempted to reach for the wasp spray and “do it yourself.” There are many reasons to call a professional bee removal expert. Here are just a few reasons.
Bees are simply defending their homes.
Our opening scenario establishes a fact that bees do not attack; they defend. They perceive the sound of a lawn mower’s blades, kids throwing rocks at a hive, or neighbors talking loudly near the hive entrance as a threat, the same way we would if someone were threatening our homes. When a threat is perceived, guard bees will exit the hive and fly right at key spots they associate with enemies. For example, in the wild, bee hives are often attacked by bears and skunks. So bees have instinctively learned to attach soft spots like noses, eyes, or ears to ward off intruders. They have also learned to attack the tufts of white fur or exposed skin underneath an animal intruder’s chest or arm pits. When they attack, they typically “bump” an intruder a few times to warm them away from their hive before they sting. If the intruder persists, a sting will result. When a bee stings, a specialized barb in its stinger lodges in the mammals’ skin and the entrails of a bee are pulled out with the sting, thereby killing the bee. This includes glands that continue to pump venom into the intruder. These glands can continue to pump venom for 10 minutes after the initial sting. So removing the stinger as soon as possible after a sting can reduce the pain. Bees also release an attack pheromone signaling to other bees to attack. This attack pheromone can stay with a sting recipient for up to six weeks. Folks who are stung by a bee have been “marked” and may find themselves facing a series of bee stings for weeks on end. All of this can be avoided by realizing that bees do not want to sting you. They are simply defending their homes.
Colonies can contain 60,000 bees!
If you thought being stung by one or two bees is bad, try angering 60,000 or more bees. Even experienced beekeepers are still in awe of a run of bees pouring out of a hive. Though it can be mesmerizing to see, do not forget that a beehive is like an iceberg. You might only see a small crack in an eave or a hole in a tree knot, but there is typically much more than what is seen. Behind that exterior is a large group of angry bees ready to sting anyone who messes with them.
Wasp spray seldom works!
So, yes, that's a matter of opinion. but I have seldom known homeowners who tell me that wasp spray workers on an enclosed beehive. Wasp spray is a neurotoxin that does disable bees as well. The problem is that cans of wasp spray are sized, pressurized, and designed to deal with a much smaller, open-faced wasp nest. Wasp typically build a paper or fibrous nest on the underside of an exterior structure. So while they might build their nest under an eave, a child’s swing, or treehouse their nest are typically on the outside of a structure, allowing easy access to spray them. Bees, in contrast, build their hives inside a structure. Gaining access to the entire hive often requires removal of some structures, to be replaced by a separate contractor later. Even if you were able to get close to the hive and spray wasp spray into the entrance, the spray seldom penetrates deep enough to destroy the hive. Even if it did, you would now have dead bees inside your house or tree.
I have seen several attempts at killing bees go terribly awry. Spraying bees with wasp spray seldom kills the colony. If often results in angry bees, lots of unnecessary stings, and creates many issues for beekeepers. If I arrive at a site and notice a hive is swimming in pesticide, I often cannot remove the hive for risk of exposing my equipment and clothing to pesticides. I’ve also seen homeowners spray wasp spray (which did not work). Out of frustration or fatigue from being stung, they moved on to other chemicals. Diesel for some reason seems to be a favorite application. Why someone would want to soak their house in a flammable substance is curious to me. The same effect for me as a bee removal expert results. I am often not able to remove bees at this moment for safety reasons or out of risk to my equipment.
PLEASE give us a chance to remove the full, healthy beehive. Avoid the mess and the stings. Let us have a crack at the hive before you reach for the pesticides.
Do not just seal them off in the house.
Do you want thousands of dead, rotting insects, their larvae, and honey trapped in your walls?This would attract mice, flies (and maggots), cockroaches, termites, and pests normally associated with beehives. It can also stain walls and smells much like rotting meat. Sometimes, when the entrance to a hive is closed, bees force their way out into another entrance. Typically, this means they will find a way from your walls into your house.
Bees are facing a decline, a problem for us all.
Tonight when you sit down to dinner, consider this statistics. Three of every five bites of food you eat, are on your plate because of a bee. But bees are in trouble. In 2017, the first US species of bumble bee was place on the endangered species list. Many headlines about Colony Collapse Disorder have been printed. Pesticides, pests, viruses, lack of forage, and other factors are possible culprits. With all of these challenges, you can do your part to give the bees a fighting chance. Let our team remove them from your house and help them find a new place to stay at our apiary where they will be pollinating fruits, veggies, and flowers and making honey in no time.
Bee suits and other specialized equipment is expensive and requires expertise to use, especially for one time use.
Our team uses specialized suits, smokers, gloves, boots, vacuums, ladders, saws, drills, hives, and chemicals to remove the bees from your house, tree, or structure. This equipment has cost us thousands of dollars to accrue across the years and it has taken years for use to learn how to use them. We attend classes to learn how to use this equipment. Some homeowners have thought they could simply suck bees into a shop vac. Our equipment is not your normal shop vacuum. Calling a beekeeper could actually save you money over doing it yourself.
Removals can be easily accomplished and are effective.
Bee removals are highly effective. Homeowners are left with an opening in their eave, wall, structure, or tree that they must repair on their own or with another contractor. For example, Fuller Farms’ services are guaranteed for a full year, meaning we will remove any bees that return to the exact spot within a year, free of charge, after a successful initial removal. Out of roughly 100 removals done in a year, we typically only see fewer than 5 hives needing to be retreated. Larger hives and those in difficult to reach locations may need to be treated again.
It might not even be a bee hive; it could be a swarm.
As a colony of bees outgrows its current living quarters it will send out roughly half of its population to find another location to live. This is called swarming. As bees swarm they may take up residence on a tree, a fencepost, a sign, really anywhere. Our team is ready at a moments notice in the spring and later in the fall when swarms are most prevalent. Even if you don’t want to have someone remove a swarm, please don’t spray them with wasp spray. Again, you will be stung, many times. Bee swarms also often move on in a matter of hours or a day. Still, give our team or another beekeeper a call for help as swarms are easily addressed.
Take note of the bees to help the beekeeper.
If you are allergic to bees, this advice does not apply to you. Seriously, just call a beekeeper ASAP. For everyone, you can take a picture or video of the bees coming and going from the hive. Or, simply take note of things where the bees are located, how high off the ground their entrance is, the number or activity level of bees around the hive, or if the bees have stung anyone in the recent past. All of this information can help the beekeeper prepare for the removal. If this informaiton is not available, do not risk getting stung. Beekeepers can work with a lot of variables. Its not worth getting stung.
Consider the costs of doing nothing or doing it yourself.
The long term ramifications of doing nothing might include smells, stains, secondary infestations from other pests. Also, while you are living with bees in your house, visitors and you are at risk of being stung. Often the costs associated with doing nothing, over the long term far exceed the costs associated with a bee removal or with doing it yourself. Don’t take our word for it. Consider Michael Ledlow’s story and the costs associated with his hospital bills after a DIY bee removal.
There are hundreds of professionals waiting to help you.
The Texas Apiary Inspection Service (https://txbeeinspection.tamu.edu/bee-removal/) has a listing of beekeepers willing to aid in bee removal. There are several in each county. You can also search for local beekeeping clubs, like the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association (http://www.mocobees.com/). They often have many members willing and capable to help neighbors in need.
Now that you have decided to hire a beekeeper here are a few questions you should ask as you interview bee removal professionals.
Are you insured?
If someone is going to be climbing ladders, cutting open your house, and working on your property, you want the protect that comes with an liability policy. Ask to see proof of their insurance while you interview them.
Do you repair structures that you open to get the bees?
Bee removals often entail opening up a structure. Most beekeepers only remove the bees, leaving repairs to the structure to another contractor. This allows beekeepers to specialize in just bee removals. I am a beekeeper, not a contractor, painter, or builder. But I can refer you to one’s a trust.
What are the costs associated with a bee removal?
For a great explanation of the costs associated with bee removals, please see Dr. Matt Fuller’s latest article in the Texas Beekeepers Association Journal, Costs Associated with Bee Removals. (Please note this information comes available to the public after a short period of member-only access: http://texasbeekeepers.org/tba-journal/).
What should homeowners do during the removal?
Most beekeepers will ask you to either stay inside or leave the property. Pets should be brought indoors. Neighbors should be notified so they can also prepare. Please also turn off any alarms and sprinkler systems.
Are references available?
Reputable bee removers will have references readily available. Ask neighbors for input about their experiences with beekeepers.
Fuller Farms' team as well as many other beekeepers throughout the state of Texas or your state are ready and willing to help with your bee removal problems. So, rather than reaching for wasp spray, reach for the phone and give us a call (979.255.9971) or call your local Beekeepers' Club (like Montgomery County Beekeepers). Doing your part to help save the bees is easy and can even be educational for the entire family.