A lone bee or two is a welcomed sight in the garden, but a beehive? No thanks.
When you have a beehive in your backyard, you worry about getting stung every time you step outside your backdoor. What if the kids get stung? How about the dog?
If you leave the hive alone and let nature take its course, you may soon find that your yard is home to thousands of bees. Not only can that be a nuisance, but it can be a very serious danger to both your family, and your neighbors.
We’re going to share the best ways to get rid of bee hives, both professionally and on your own. If you’re going the DIY route, you need to know how bees make hives, and what destroys these hives.
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Just to be clear: honey bees are the only type of bee that makes a hive.
Table of Contents
- How Do Bees Make Hives?
- How to Kill Bee Hives
- How to DIY Remove Bee Hives
- Best 11 Bee Hive Removal Services
How Do Bees Make Hives?
Hives are created by worker honey bees, and their purpose is to store honey in the winter, so the colony can survive the cold weather. Hives store honey, and the bees eat that honey during the winter when it’s too cold to forage for food outdoors.
If you’ve ever purchased honey with the comb, you have a pretty good idea of what a hive would look like. In fact, the comb is a part of the hive itself.
Worker bees only live six weeks, but they make the most of their time here on earth by performing vital tasks that ensures the survival of the colony.
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When a worker bee turns 10 days old, she develops a special gland in her abdomen that produces wax.
When workers forage for food, they gather nectar from plants, and carry it in their pollen pouches. While in flight, the nectar mixes with a certain enzyme. Once she returns to the hive, the nectar is transferred from her tongue to another worker’s tongue. The liquid then
evaporates, and turns into honey.
Worker bee glands convert the sugar in honey into wax. The wax seeps out of the bee’s pores to create tiny wax flakes on the abdomen, which are then chewed until the flakes become moldable. Worker bees then use the wax to build the honeycomb.
When worker bees are huddled together, the temperature in the hive remains at around 30-35 degrees Celsius, which is the ideal temperature for maintaining the texture of the wax.
In the wild, honey bees construct their hives in hollow trees, rock crevices and any other areas deemed suitable by scout bees.
Hives have just one entrance, and will be occupied by the colony for years. Honey bees, unlike other types of bees, do not build new nests each year.
Once constructed, the hive can support up to 30 times its weight. Honey is stored in the upper sections of the comb, and pollen in the rows below. Beneath the pollen rows are the worker and drone brood cells. The queen cells are at the bottom of the comb.
As impressive as they are, bee hives have no place in your backyard. While not as aggressive as other types of bees, honey bees can become agitated and sting you, your kids, and even your pets. If someone is allergic, it can quickly turn into a deadly situation.
Even if no one is allergic, a honey bee sting is painful.
How to Kill Bee Hives
Because honey bee populations are in trouble, killing a hive is not recommended unless it is your only option. There are a few ways to kill the hive, but you’ll need to make sure that everything is removed.
1. Soapy Water Spray
One of the most effective ways to kill a hive (and most other insects for that matter) is a soapy water spray.
Why is soapy water so effective?
Soap is a surfactant, which means it essentially makes water wetter. When sprayed on insects, it allows more water to enter the insect. Ultimately, the insect drowns and dies.
A mixture of regular dish soap and water will suffice to kill the hive.
A soapy water spray can kill a hive, but there are two things you need to know:
- You’ll need to respray the hive several times over the course of a week or two (sometimes longer).
- You’ll need to wear protective gear to avoid getting stung.
Bees are most active during the day, so the best time to spray is at night when they are dormant.
Wearing protective gear is the most important thing because the bees won’t die right away. It takes just seconds for a swarm of agitated bees to sting you.
Make sure that you wear long sleeves, long pants, gloves, and a covering over your head, neck, and shoulders. All family members should be kept as far away from the hive as possible when you spray.
While this method can be effective, we recommend exercising extreme caution when you spray bees with soapy water. Make sure that you know exactly what type of honey bee you’re dealing with. Africanized honey bees (a.k.a. killer bees) are extremely aggressive and will follow you for a quarter mile before giving up the chase. If you’re unsure of what type of honey bees you’re dealing with, you’ll want to call in a professional.
2. Knock Down the Hive
Another option is to simply knock down the hive, and this method will work just fine if the hive is abandoned (not very common).
Knocking down the hive is the most dangerous option because the displaced bees will be extremely angry.
We only recommend this option if you know for sure that the hive is abandoned.
3. Call an Exterminator
Again, we don’t recommend killing a hive on your own (or at all for that matter). Calling in an exterminator is your best option if you absolutely must eliminate the hive.
An exterminator will have the tools and knowledge to kill the hive safely and effectively.
Insecticides will be used to kill colony members. Because larvae will continue to hatch and grow over the course of several days, the exterminator will likely need to make several return trips to reapply the insecticide.
Eventually, the queen and any remaining colony members will be exterminated, and the colony will be dismantled.
While exterminators may kill the hive, they won’t clean up. It will be your responsibility to clean up the dead bees, and remove the hive. If the hive is in your home and there is even a drop of honey left in the comb, it will start to give off a foul odor as the honey decomposes.
Removal of the dead bees and the hive itself is extremely important.
Also, bees will give off an alarm pheromone when they die or when dead bees are around to warn others, which can agitate any living colony members. Make sure that all family members stay far away from the nest while it is being treated.
How to DIY Remove Bee Hives
Maybe you don’t want to kill the bees, but you want to remove the hive from your property or home. While it is often better to call in a beekeeper it is possible to remove the hive yourself without damaging the colony.
Whichever DIY method you choose, it’s important to make sure that you wear the right protective gear when removing a hive with live bees. Ideally, you’ll wear a beekeeping suit.
It’s also important to first locate the hive, and determine what type of honey bee you’re dealing with. Only an experienced professional should remove killer bee hives.
Make sure that you have an escape route planned, too. If the bees swarm, you want to distance yourself without hesitation.
Smoke the Hive
This method is a very effective way to remove a hive, and relocate the colony to a bee farm.
For this method, you’ll need a bee smoker and some fuel pellets. You can purchase these from your local garden store.
You’ll also need a box to place the hive in, and a scraping tool to dislodge the hive. Poke a very tiny hole in the box, just large enough to let air in and prevent the bees from escaping.
Removal is best performed on a sunny day in the afternoon, as the bees will be out pollinating. The goal is to remove the nest when no one is home.
- Once you’ve identified where the hive is, get the smoker and fuel pellets ready. Make sure that you’re wearing your protective gear, too.
- Light the fuel inside the smoker, and disperse the smoke around the hive. Be as calm and quiet as possible to avoid disturbing the bees.
- Once the bees are subdued, remove the hive with a scraping tool.
- Place the hive in your box.
- Take the hive to a beehive farm.
If you plan to relocate the bees yourself, such as to a rural area away far from your home, be sure to smoke the bees again before removing the hive.
Once you’ve relocated the hive, make sure to check your yard for any remnants of the hive. Clean up the area to ensure that bees do not return.
If the nest was built in or on your home, be sure to clean the area with warm soapy water, and fill in any gaps with caulk.
Smoking the hive is the best way to relocate a colony, and the method that professional beekeepers use.
If you don’t want to risk killing the bees or just want to leave this job to the professionals, hiring a removal service is the best option.
Best 11 Bee Hive Removal Services
There are bee hive removal services in just about every corner of the world. While they’re the only practical option when removing a huge bee hive, they’re also great for removing small bee hives as well.
Bee hive removal cost will vary depending on your location and the company you choose to work with.
We’re going to share some of the top removal companies in the U.S., U.K., Canada and New Zealand.
In the U.S.
1. San Diego Bee Removal
Based in San Diego, California, San Diego Bee Removal only carries out live bee removals, and serves the entire San Diego area.
The company will also remove hives that are difficult to access using the cone method. A metal cone is place over the entrance. Bees escape through the end, but can never get back inside. The bees are then encouraged to move to a new nesting place – one the removal company sets up.
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2. American Bee Control
ABC (American Bee Control) offers beehive removal and trapping services in Arizona. ABC offers services for public buildings, property managers and owners, educators, beekeepers and even growers.
Hive removal is done in a safe, humane way using no-kill methods. The bees are given a new and safe hive in an apiary outside of Tucson.
The great thing about ABC is that they do all they can to ensure bees are kept alive, and their hive-building activities are undisturbed.
Once the hive is removed, the area is treated to ensure that no bees ever establish a colony there again.
3. American Honey Bee Protection Agency
The American Honey Bee Protection Agency serves areas near San Antonio, Austin and Arlington in Texas.
As a non-profit organization, the agency survives only on donations, so homeowners are encouraged to make a donation in exchange for removal services. Recommended donations are based on distance and the equipment needed to successfully relocate the hive.
The AHBPA uses no-kill methods to remove hives, and the bees are relocated to apiaries in Texas.
In the U.K.
Beegone is a non-lethal honey bee removal service located in Guildford. The company serves all of England, and parts of Scotland and Wales.
No insecticides are used, whether bees are removed from chimneys, trees, walls or even roofs. Not only do they carry out removals, but they also offer bee removal training to budding professionals, which demonstrates their expertise.
Bees are removed and relocated using the best practices to ensure survival. They’ll also treat the extraction site after the hive is removed to ensure that bees do not return for 3-25 years.
5. Vale Pest Control
Serving Vale, Cardiff and Valleys, Vale Pest Control offers live bee removal from just about anywhere, including roofs, windows, gable ends and more.
The company claims to be only one of a few that perform live removals in the area. The two primary methods used to remove bees is the trapout method and cutouts.
We discussed the trapout method earlier when discussing San Diego Removal services.
Honey bee cutouts are performed in areas that are easily and safely accessible. The bees are vacuumed up using a special vacuum, and placed in a brood box. The comb is then cut out and removed. The company will also attempt to find the queen, which makes it easier to remove and relocate the remaining bees.
6. Honey Bee Swarm
Located in South East London, Patricia is a beekeeper who will remove swarms free of charge.
Patricia will remove swarms for free and rehouse the bees in one of her hives in London or Surrey.
7. Ontario Bee Rescue
Ontario Bee Rescue is a non-profit organization that offers honey bee swarm removals for free in most cases. The only exception is when cutouts must be performed (i.e. when hives are in the floor or wall).
The organization was established in 2014, and works with local beekeepers to rescue swarms.
8. Kiss My Bees honey
Kiss My Bees Honey offers swarm removal services in Durham and the Municipality of Clarington, including Bowmanville, Oshawa, Orono, Courtice, and the surrounding areas.
Bees are removed without the use of chemicals and pesticides, and are relocated to hives tended by the owners of the organization.
9. Toronto Bee Rescue
Toronto Bee Rescue offers beehive removal, swarm removal and hive hosting services.
If swarms are easily accessible, removal is provided free of charge in most cases.
If hive removal is necessary, the company will come out and review the situation to provide a list of available removal methods. The bees, brood, honey and wax are all removed, and the cavity is sealed to keep bees from returning.
In New Zealand
10. Auckland Beekeepers Club
The Auckland Beekeepers Club can get you in touch with a local beekeeper in the Auckland area, and have the hive or swarm removed safely.
11. Beez Things
Beez Things helps New Zealanders connect with beekeepers who will come out and collect swarms. Service is provided to all of New Zealand.
Simply fill out a short form to connect with a beekeeper or collector.
If you have an established hive, it’s important to get in touch with a local beekeeper or removal service to ensure that the bees are safely transported to a new hive.