Preservation of Honeybees
Honeybee removal from a structure can be challenging. Established colonies are large with many thousands of bees. To successfully relocate a colony some of the nest (eggs and unhatched bees) are taken along with all the bees and housed in a new hive. All of the honey (there can easily be more than 20 - 30 pounds) is removed and the cavity is scraped clean. Thorough cleaning is advised or it will smell like a welcome home for bees next year and may be reoccupied if accessible.
While honeybee colonies are typically the most difficult type of removal, they are definitely the most rewarding. In fact, rescuing honeybees is the reason I started the Wild Bee Company.
Given the delicate state of honey bees today, the opportunity to relocate colonies that have been surviving on their own is rewarding. While many honeybee colonies are failing, these “survivor colonies” may have traits that help them flourish in the face of environmental stress. By killing these colonies we are interrupting natural selection in its simplest form.
Once I re-establish these colonies in a new location, some will continue to thrive. From these surviving colonies I am often able to breed queens and hopefully, over time, help carry forward strong genetics and colonies that are able to survive. The bees in my apiary are captured feral colonies or swarms.
Honey bee swarms occur mostly in the Spring and are a usually result of a successful colony growing to a point where they can divide. A strong swarm consists of a queen and thousands of worker bees. In flight or in a cluster a swarm is an amazing thing to see.
If you are concerned about a swarm call someone to collect it, don’t spray it. Accessible swarm capture should be free and there is almost always a beekeeper willing to make the effort. Call me and if I can’t make it in time, I will refer you to someone else. The sooner they are collected the better.