Many pest management professionals (PMPs) prefer to leave bee removal to experts with more experience for myriad reasons. These pros have the:
- Equipment needed to remove nests from high locations.
- Ability to make structural repairs when nests are removed from walls, ceilings or soffits.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to reduce or prevent stings.
- Experience removing live bees and contacts at places that will accept the bees.
To find a company that offers live removal or relocation services, conduct an online search or check with your local beekeeper association. Another good resource is your state’s Department of Agriculture, which can direct you to beekeepers and organizations in your area.
A beekeeper since 2004, Rick Moranz, owner of Cleveland (Ohio) Bee Removal, offers live bee removal and relocation. He is a member of the Greater Cleveland Beekeepers Association and a PMP, so he is able to correctly identify bees and then take appropriate action.
“Not everyone knows what type of bees they have, and I can correctly identify them,” he says. “Different times of the year, there are different bees. A lot of people don’t know that, either.”
He suggests PMPs study images of the different species to learn the differences between, say, honey bees and yellowjackets.
Jeff Lutz, owner of Bee Best Bee Removal, La Mesa, Calif., says his company has been in business more than 25 years and only takes on bee, wasp, yellowjacket and hornet work.
“Many of our jobs come from referrals from pest control companies that don’t provide bee services,” he says. “They feel comfortable referring us the jobs, knowing that we won’t try to steal their accounts because we don’t have any pest control routes.”
It is illegal to kill bees if the species is protected by the Endangered Species Act, like the rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis).
“Although there are issues with bee loss and shortages in various states, it is a myth that bees are endangered,” Lutz explains. “In fact, feral honey bees are not on the endangered species list. If someone has a swarm or hive on their property, it is legal to resolve the problem via live removal, and/or elimination.”
It is illegal to kill bees, however, if they are simply “being bees,” Lutz says.
“If someone only has bees that are foraging, pollenating and/or scouting, then it is illegal to ‘spray for bees,’” he adds. “In other words, it is illegal to kill bees when no hive or swarm is present.”
Although honey bee colonies can encompass as many as 60,000 bees, it is best to remove them and the honey they produce. Otherwise, customers will have a bigger problem inside their walls, ceilings and soffits.
“If they choose to exterminate the bees, there’s nothing to protect that honey,” Moranz says. “Then, other pests, like wax moths and small hive beetles, get in there, lay their eggs inside the honey bee colony and take over it. Eventually, maggots and larvae will work their way out. Plus, the smell of that many dead bees stinks.”
Many companies that remove and relocate bees provide exclusion strategies as well.
“Companies that do not specialize in bees tend to use unsuitable materials in their bee exclusion efforts,”
Steel wool, epoxy and expanding foam will not keep bees out, he adds. Instead, his company uses all-purpose 100 percent silicone for small holes, gaps and cracks.
“The other thing companies should be aware of is that the bigger the hive that remains inside a structure, live or not, the more quickly it will become re-infested, regardless of the bee-proofing measures,” Lutz says.
Knowledge of bee behavior may make it easier to determine when it’s time to call a bee removal and relocation company.
Read more: Web Exclusive: Bee removal by the experts