Frequently Asked Questions

If you don't find your answer here; contact me. I want to hear from you!

About Removals:

Do I even have bees? What do I have?

What is the difference between a swarm and an established hive?

Why should I get a beekeeper to remove my bees?

Can you just lure the bees out into a hive box?

Can I just smoke the bees or do something else to get the bees to leave?

Can I just spray and/or remove the bees the bees myself?

Can I just seal the entrance to the hive and stop the bees from getting in?

Can I just wait and hope the bees go away or die in winter?

Can I just have a pest control company kill them and that will end the problem?

I only see a few bees around the hive.  The hive must be small, right?

I just noticed bees recently.  They must have only been there a short time, right?

Will bees try to get inside my house and attack me?

Will bees damage or tunnel into the inside of my house?

Do bees damage the trees they are in?

Why do you charge? Aren't the bees alone worth all your effort?

What can I do to keep bees out of my house?

I heard that beekeepers remove bees and then kill them off-site, is that true?

I am having a beekeeper come to remove my bees, what should I expect and/or ask them?

I have bees on my property.  What should I do in the meantime, before they are removed?

 

About Bees in general:

I am thinking about keeping bees.  Where can I find out more?

I have heard about bees disappearing.  Where can I find out more information?

 

 

Do I even have bees? What do I have?

   You should look at the "Are These Even Bees?" section on the main page.  If you are still unsure, email me some photos for better identification.  Do not put yourself in danger while taking photos, be safe. 

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What is the difference between a swarm and an established hive?

In the first part of the Do You Have Bees? explains how to tell the difference and has photos.

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Why should I get a beekeeper to remove my bees?

    A successful bee removal requires someone experienced with handling bees.  Many pest control companies only know how to spray and kill them.  Although spraying and killing the bees may sound like an easy and inexpensive solution, it takes more to completely solve the problem.  If you have a dead hive in a structure it creates two main issues.  First, since dead bees no longer keep the hive cool, the honeycomb weaken and honey will run, staining surfaces and attracting vermin (plus a hive of rotting bees does not exactly smell pleasant).    Second, if the area the hive used to occupy is not completely sealed up "bee-tight" it will become a strong attractant to future swarms.  There is a high likelihood within a year or two (or possibly in the same season) another entirely new swarm will take up residence, creating the problem all over again.  I have seen this happen several times.  Make sure you account for these two things when considering bids to remove the bees.  The majority of the time it costs much less to pay a beekeeper to remove the entire hive alive (bees comb and all), leaving you with a clean, empty cavity, than to pay for the killing, removal and sealing separately.  In addition, an experienced beekeeper will be able to help guide you through making sure that area is sealed well enough to prevent future swarms from taking up residence.  For a look at what happens when bees are simply sprayed and left, look here.

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Can you just lure the bees out into a hive box?

    There is no "magic lure" that can make an established colony leave their home.  The only two methods for removing bees are by physically removing the hive and placing it in a standard beehive, or trapping the bees out of their hive.  A more detailed description of each of these methods is found under Removal information.  If you do find a "magic lure" please let me know, it would make things much easier. 

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Can I just smoke the bees or do something else to get the bees to leave?

Smoking the bees will only cause them to retreat into their hive.  The only way to get rid of bees is by one of the methods detailed on the Bee Removal Information page.  Spraying the bees will only endanger you and make the bees angry.  I can not tell you how many times I have seen people try to kill a hive (or swarm) with wasp spray.  It will not work.  An inexperienced person attempting to remove bees is a recipe for disaster. 

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What can I do to keep bees out of my house?

Bees are looking for an empty cavity that they can defend from one or two entrances.  Most hives in houses occur in the eaves, between floors, or in hollow wall cavities.  You can prevent this by making sure your house is well sealed, especially in the areas previously mentioned.  A little caulk, patchwork and spray foam (i.e. Great Stuff) can go a long way to insuring that bees (and other things) cannot enter your house.  Remember that bees can enter through a 1/4" hole. 

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I have heard about bees disappearing.  Where can I find out more information?

Check in the links section on this website for a listing of where to find the most current information and research concerning Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).  I personally would recommend MAAREC as a good place to start.  If you would like current beekeeping information and news delivered to you, I suggest subscribing to the free e-newsletter "Catch the Buzz" published by Bee Culture Magazine. 

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Can I just spray and/or remove the bees the bees myself?

Attempting to kill the bees yourself will only put you in danger.  Insecticides available for the unlicensed homeowner, although able to kill a few bees, are insufficient to kill an entire hive.  Pest control companies and fire departments use special chemicals and power sprayers to kill hives.  Even these methods often require multiple applications to completely eradicate the hive.  Once a hive has been sprayed, there is little chance of finding a beekeeper that will come and get the bees, since the chances of contaminating other hives and honey is too great.  Under no circumstances ever attempt to spray a swarm.  A swarm of bees (even Africanized bees) is docile and presents little threat.  A swarm is a homeless cluster of bees that will move on in a few days.  If they are sprayed there is a chance that the queen could be killed, causing the social structure of the swarm to collapse.  This will cause the bees to become aggressive, and they have no leader to follow, stay there for an indefinite period of time. 

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Can I just seal the entrance to the hive and stop the bees from getting in?

Honey bees store enough up food (honey and pollen) in their hive to sustain them through long periods of time when there is little forage available (like winter).  If a hive is sealed up they will continue to live off their stores, possibly for months.  During this time they will be searching for another way to get out, possibly exiting through an indoor light fixture or other inconvenient place. 

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Why do you charge? Aren't the bees alone worth all your effort?

Bee removal (when done correctly) is extremely hard, hot and often dangerous work.  It often requires multiple trips that quickly become expensive with the high cost of fuel.  With bees obtained from removals, there is no guarantee that they will be good honey producers, not be mean, not have diseases, or not abscond (leave) from their new hive.  I have taken leave from my previous job to focus on beekeeping and removals because I believe in offering a needed quality service to the Austin community and saving as many feral bee colonies as possible.  I find it odd that I often have to justify charging for my services to people.  I need to eat too.  I guess some people think that I live off of honey, or the bees feed me or something.  My rates are always competitive with pest control companies, who only kill and will not remove bees.  (top)

I only see a few bees around the hive.  The hive must be small, right?

There is no real way to tell how large a hive is by the number of bees on the outside.  There are photos of what typical hives looked like on the outside and what they looked like on the inside on the Do You Have Bees? page.  I always try to take pictures of the hive so the homeowner can see what the hive looks like.

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I just noticed bees recently.  They must have only been there a short time, right?

A hive of bees often goes unnoticed for the first year.  Most people notice them after they have been there for some time  (top)

Will bees damage or tunnel into the inside of my house?

Bees do not have the ability to tunnel into wood.  They do not chew on wiring.  They really do no damage to the structure of the house in any way, until they are killed.  They keep the inside of their hive clean and coat it with a  powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal substance known as propolis.  Propolis will preserve the wood surrounding the hive far better than even pressure treated lumber.  It is also an ingredient in toothpaste!

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Do bees damage the trees they are in?

Much like bees in houses, bees in trees do no damage to the tree.  The propolis that the bees line their hive with will protect the tree from rot that could otherwise develop inside the hollow that the bees are living in.

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Will bees try to get inside my house and attack me?

Bees do not want to attack you.  When a bee stings, it kills the bee.  There is absolutely no reason bees would sacrifice valuable workers to go out looking for trouble.  Bees want to keep their home safe and sealed and keep intruders out.  They make one of the most sought after products in nature, honey.  Almost any animal will eat honey if they get the chance, so the bees have to stay in their hive to defend it.   The entire hive wants to stay right where it is.  Bees will defend the entrance to their home (like most animals), so be careful around where they are coming and going.  Sometimes a few workers will become attracted to a light source that they can see close to their hive.  Porch lights and  interior lights accessible from the hive often lure a few bees towards them and some bees end up in the house. Once inside the house the bees are disoriented and will head towards a light source, such as a lightbulb or window.  If you have a few bees in your house at night, you can use this trick to get them out: Turn off all the lights except for the on they are flying around.  Next, turn on another light closer to the door and then turn off the first light that was on.  Keep doing this until the last light is the porch light (with the door open) the bees will fly outside.  Once they are outside, shut the door and turn off the porch light.  Using this method there is no need to try to capture the bees and risk being stung.  

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Can I just wait and hope the bees go away or die in winter?

The honeybee colony is perennial.  Honeybees live through the winter off of honey and pollen that they have stored.  They will cluster inside the hive and not fly out if the temperatures fall into the mid to low 50's.  As soon as it warms up they will once again begin foraging.  They are easily able to survive the cold winters of the north, so our mild Texas winters are rarely a problem for them.

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Can I just have a pest control company kill them and that will end the problem?

If you have to have the bees sprayed, make sure to arrange for the immediate removal of the dead bees, poisoned honey and wax afterwards, or these types of problems can develop.  After the hive is removed make sure to arrange for the re-sealing of the area by someone who knows how to seal it up "bee-proof" or you will have new colony move in, creating the same problem all over again.  I have seen re-habitations of old hives happen several times. 

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I am having a beekeeper come to remove my bees, what should I expect and/or ask them?

 Ask them about their hives!  Ask them about the removal methods that they will be using.  Ask them about the equipment they use.  For cut-outs, they should have a special vacuum (if bees are sucked into an ordinary vacuum, it will kill them).  Make sure that they are going to wait until dark to pick up the hive, after all the bees have returned.  If the hive is taken away before dark, you will have to deal with a lot of returning bees on your own.  Make sure the beekeeper will get all the bees, and will guarantee that they will return to pick up any that are missed.  Make sure you have discussed the sealing of the hive cavity.  Ask the beekeeper whether or not they personally are going to seal up the cavity, or if not at least be able to guide you through the proper way to do so.

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I am thinking about keeping bees.  Where can I find out more?

Bees are fascinating creatures.  They provide endless hours of enjoyment and delicious honey.  In the city of Austin, you can legally keep up to two hives in your yard, as long as you neighborhood association does not forbid it.  The ordinances can be found in full here

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I heard that beekeepers remove bees and then kill them off-site, is that true?

So far I have not heard of anyone doing this.  I would never kill a hive, I need them to make honey!  Even mean Africanized hives can be taken where they are far from people and re-queened.  Re-queening a hive involves replacing the mean queen with one of known origin.  Since she lays all of the eggs that develop into workers, and an average life of a worker bee is around a month, the hive quickly replaced by bees that are non-Africanized.

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I have bees on my property.  What should I do in the meantime, before they are removed?

The best thing is simply to leave them alone (remember they are not damaging your house/tree).  Avoid their entrance and especially the "flight line" of the hive.  Do not mow around the hive.  The noise and CO2 emitted by the lawnmower often can cause the bees to sting.  Make sure that all pets are able to get away from the hive if they need to.  Cats can usually escape from attacking bees, but dogs need to be able to get indoors.  Dogs cannot handle very many stings before it damages their kidneys (sometimes fatally).  If your pet has been attacked, contact your vet immediately.  The bees will be especially active and can get "testy" between the hours of 3-6 p.m.  This is when the newest bees fly for the first time, and they can be clumsy.  If you absolutely have to work in the area, do so early in the morning, but there will still be a risk of getting stung.  At night try to turn off lights (mainly porch lights) that can be seen from the hive entrance, to avoid attracting bees during the night.  You only have to turn off your lights if you get a lot of bees around them and it bothers you.

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