Got Bees?  Want Them?

Every Spring, local honeybees look for a new home.  This natural instinct is called swarming.  Most people don't realize it happens until you encounter a swarm.

A swarm is usually harmless, if left alone.  But if a swarm shows up, curious children could get hurt.  You have two choices if you have a swarm: 

1.  either call beekeeper or professional exterminator to remove it, or

2.  leave it alone, in which case it will look for a new home nearby.

If I have a swarm on my property, what should I do?

Most people call the police.  The police have a list of beekeepers, of which I am one, and the police call me.  I will gladly, and without charge, come and retrieve this swarm.  I'll put the swarm in a hive box and give it a comfortable place to live to make honey.

But I don't always get there in time.  The swarm, if it finds a new home, won't wait for me.  They'll leave.

What if I do nothing?

If you do nothing, the swarm will eventually move on to find a more permanent home.  Most people encounter a swarm as it looks for a new home.  As you find it, it may stay 20 minutes or 2 days.  

If left alone, the swarm will likely find a place in your neighborhood and they'll reestablish their home.  But most people do not care for bees in their neighborhood!  Further, bees will find more permanent homes in many inconvenient places.

What do you mean, "inconvenient?"

Here's a picture of a shed down by Gordonville.  The bees found a knot hole in the siding, and proceeded to make their new home between the stud walls of the shed. 

I was called to come and remove the bees, and as you can see, we had to cut away the wall and physically remove the bees. 

If we were to poison the bees, they die.  However, the remaining smell of the old beeswax and honeycomb would attract more bees from another swarm.  The best thing to do is to keep swarms away from your buildings, and do what you can to keep them from establishing a new home.

Are there any "proactive" measures that will prevent the swarms from moving into my house?

Yes!  I offer to hang a "swarm trap" in a nearby tree.  The swarm trap is a box that appears ideal to the bees.  Further, the trap is baited with pheromones and provides a more attractive location than your house or shed.

Then, when the bees move into the trap, I'll take them to my bee yards.  The bees are not harmed or killed, and you don't have them around your house.  We both benefit!

So how long does this take?

Catching and trapping swarms is not an exact science.  Not all colonies of honeybees swarm at the same time.  The swarming season runs from late April until early July.  These dates, of course, depend on the weather.

So what do you do with these bees?

I bring them to my bee yard near Fruitland where they make honey and pollinate nearby farms and gardens.

And what do you charge?

Nothing.  Part of my joy is catching swarms.  If I'm successful, then I get the bees as my compensation.  Plus, I'd rather work for free and help the bees than to have them killed.  It's a win-win situation.

Are traps really necessary?

Sort of.  I often get calls from the police to retrieve a swarm from a nervous homeowner.  But by the time I get to the swarm location, the swarm has left.  They found a new home somewhere in the neighborhood.  And once they move in, they're hard to remove.  Swarm traps offer a kind of insurance to keep swarms from escaping.

Okay, how do we get traps set?

Just give me a call and I'll hang a couple of traps in a tree.  They'll hang there as an open invitation for the bees.

I like to hang the traps in mid to late April, and then take them down by the middle of July.  The traps hang 8 feet off the ground and won't present a problem for lawn mowers, small children or pets.

I'll monitor the traps every few days, and when the bees are trapped, I'll come back and remove them.  At the bottom of this page is a picture of one of my traps.

To see the Jackson Football Stadium Swarm, click here

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