A beehive is an enclosed structure used by a colony of bees for shelter and to store food, especially for their young (known as larvae). In nature, beehives (often called nests) are composed of a densely packed group of hexagonal cells. These natural hives are made from beeswax, a material produced by special glands these bees possess. These are not the only type of beehive, however. Man-made beehives (known as apiaries) are structures made of wood, glass, and/or plastic to house domesticated honey bees.
Species of the subgenus Apis, commonly known as honey bees, are the only ones that live in traditional hives. Only the Eastern honey bee (Apis cerana) and Western honey bee (Apis mellifera) are commonly domesticated.
Believe it or not, honey bees are essential to human survival. While your initial reaction may be to kill these bees and destroy their hive, relocating it instead is mutually beneficial. Honey bees are needed to pollinate flowers and food crops. In fact, the decline in global honey bee populations, largely due to the overuse of certain pesticides, has caused the price of some foods to sky-rocket. As such, many beekeepers now rent their hives to local farmers in order to pollinate crops in the absence of wild bees.
Beehives can cause problems for households, especially when they’re located in a tricky location (like behind siding). Here are some tips for the safe removal of beehives from your vicinity:
Seek professional help if a hive is large, or difficult to access. Remember: there are around 10,000 bees in a hive, being stung by even a small fraction of those bees can have life-threatening consequences.
A hive may appear small from the outside, but they often continue deep into walls, chimneys, roofs, and trees.
1. Move them.
If you suspect honey bees are living in your hive, contact a local bee keeper. They would likely be more than thrilled to relocate the bees. They will typically do this for free, since well-established honey bee colonies are quite valuable. You can find these bee keepers online or by asking around at your local farmer’s market.
Beehive removal and extermination should be limited to small hives that are easily managed with the use of basic insecticides. Avoid larger hives and ones that produce honey. Walls and other parts of the house may need to be cut away for easier access. Gather all the needed tools before starting to make the process as easy as possible.
If the hive cannot be removed, bee-proof the area and the hive will slowly die-off. When removing a hive, ensure that nothing is left behind. Dead bees and leftover wax or honey can attract other pests like wax moths, ants, and other bees. You don’t want to simply exchange one infestation for another.
You can attempt to move small hives if the bees can be controlled by household chemicals. However, you should never move a large hive without professional assistance.
Make sure you have clothing on that covers your whole body; bees will find any area they can to sting if they think the hive is in danger. Opt instead for long socks, long sleeves, pants, and a beekeeper’s hat.
Believe it or not, it’s actually easier to remove a beehive at night. Bees are less active at night and therefore are likely to stay inside the hive. It is also harder to see at night, though, so use a headlamp.
2. Using Insecticide on small hives.
If you have a small hive, using insecticide might be a viable option. If you go with this choice, you’ll definitely want to use a spray with a long nozzle so you’re as far away from the bees as possible. You’ll also want to focus the spray on the hive itself, and ignore spraying the bees buzzing around.
Once the hive is inactive, knock it down. Remember to exercise caution: though the hive is inactive, some bees may still be alive. After that, carry the nest to a far away location and dispose of it.
3. Check your local laws.
In some jurisdictions, killing honey bees is illegal, so check with your local authorities before attempting to remove the hive. They might just be able to assist you with the disposal of hives or recommend a professional.
In some jurisdictions, you may be required to contact an exterminator or professional animal handler. Be as open as you can about the situation when talking to the professional. Depending on your situation, a company may decide to recommend you to someone else. Instead of acting too fast, take a step back and make sure what you’re doing is the right move.
Consider evacuating your house if a particularly large hive is in your walls or attic. This is especially true if you have children, elderly, or bee-allergic persons living in your home.
If bees are buzzing around your head do not swat them away, as this will only make them mad. Instead you should slowly back away and seek shelter.
4. Keep them alive!
The global honey bee population has dropped dramatically of late. In fact, they are classified as endangered species in some circles. The dwindling number of hives is having a negative impact on agriculture, by reducing the amount of possible pollenation. By contacting professional bee handlers, you will give them the opportunity to protect and relocate the hive.
Bees are generally harmless unless threatened. That said, the proximity of a person to a hive may be sensed as a threat, even if you only mean to help them. Depending on the species of bee, they might behave in a different way than you’d expect. Doing some research and acquiring a functional knowledge of bees can help you anticipate and control their activity.
Though bees are an integral part of the ecosystem, they can cause problems for humans. These include skin problems, allergic reactions, and pain. While they usually won’t bother humans, provoking bees can give you a taste of their wrath. Never disturb a beehive, doing so can be dangerous.
When dealing with bees and beehives, it is best to contact a professional. The guidelines above can provide you with a wealth of information regarding these insects and the complex relationship they form with humans. You have already taken the right approach by deciding to learn more about bees, take some time to continue learning, this information will prove invaluable in overcoming your problem. It is never a bad idea to plan ahead and ‘bee’ prepared.