Overview‎ > ‎

Swarm Removal

Swarms are found hanging out on trees, fences, picnic tables and the side of structures.  Swarms number between 10,000 and 16,000  honeybees on average.  Dr. Chip Taylor of University of Kansas, says, "based on experience with thousands of Africanized Swarms in Central America, a swarm in the mid-west will travel no more than a couple of miles from their original hive."

Honeybee swarms are generally not aggressive or sting unless provoked.  One can actually reach their hand into the swarm and draw out honey bees in bunches so long as they do not feel trapped.  Africanized or "killer bee" swarms behavior and anatomical appearance is indistinguishable from natives except when their body is viewed under a microscope.

How cool are 10,000 bees hanging out!

Scout bees, which make up about 3-5% of the swarm, hunt for a location to form a permanent colony.   They like a confined space about the size of a five gallon bucket, with a minimally sized entrance.  Swarms move to a permanent location within a few hours to a few days In the wild, they will take up residence in a hollow tree.

In neighborhoods, they may take up residence in man-made structures.  I often remove honeybees from a roofline overhang area or adjacent to a fireplace where it has pulled away from the house.  A  favorite entrance is behind a woodpecker hole in exterior siding where insulation is missing.  They scout for one-eighth inch or larger openings where caulk is split and they can easily slip through.  

Honey bees can be captured and relocated when they are within reach of a beekeeper.  Swarms can be slid into a 5-gallon bucket while leaving a few stragglers to disperse over  24 to 48 hours.  Sometimes it is not desired to leave confused stragglers at the location because they buzz around and scare people (unnecessarily, of course).  However taking bees in a bucket is the fastest method because it requires only one trip. 

It is most effective to shake and leave bees in a commercial beehive until nightfall to gather up bees.   Honey bees almost always take abode; and move completely within it after dark.  The hive is removed and relocated outside of daylight hours.  This is my preferred method.

In some circumstances, a honey bee vacuum is used to draw bees into a netted box where they can be easily placed into a commercial beehive later.  Using a honey bee vacuum is not 100% effective because it leaves a few stragglers flying around.  Sometimes vacuuming is necessary when honey bees must be removed immediately from a highly populated area.  For example, I removed bees from a tree in an outside beer garden in Westport using this method-- finishing in plenty of time for their nightly patrons to arrive.

See some swarm catch pictures here.

Once honey bees settle into a structure or tree, it is not fast to remove them.  The sooner you call the better!  Swarms are normally quiet friendly but can turn on you and sting you if you try to kill them.  Myself or one of my affiliate beekeepers will remove swarms for free.  The honey bee colony is often useful for honey production.  You will be charged a small trip fee to help cover our expenses.