I am often tagged in Facebook posts where someone is asking for advice on bee removals. Sometimes the comments in these can be very volatile. The most recent post I was a part of had comments advising them to call various exterminators and beekeepers (hence the tag). Other comments made me laugh, like the one that told the homeowner to place a paper bag next to the entrance to make the bees think there was a wasp nest there and scare them away. Another person told them to use tobacco smoke to lull them to sleep. The ones that mentioned exterminators were quickly chastised and told about the declining populations of honeybees… I bet the person who posted wishes they hadn’t.
What I was interested in was the recommendations for various exterminators or sketchy beekeepers I had heard rumors about. Since I do removals I hear about bee removals ranging from free to thousands of dollars. Some bee removal “specialists” tell their customers that they are saving the bees, when in fact, they are exterminating them and lying.
So this morning I thought I would call some exterminators in the area to see what they would tell me. I didn’t give my real name, but I did give them a real scenario that I have come across many times.
I told the same story to each company: I have bees coming out of the place where my water spigot comes out of the wall. They have been there a few weeks at least and I’m calling to see how much it is to have them removed. I let them give me their quote and method for extermination and then ask if they do live removals.
Here is what I found
Blue Sky Pest Control
- $250 to exterminate, but then said that the bees leave behind a microscopic pheromone and will need to have the comb cut out of the wall. That will be an additional $500 or more.
- They do not do live removals.
- They do not do bee removals, but refer everyone to The Beekeeper. So I called him.
- $145 to exterminate
- Will do live removals that cost $300-$700. He said he has a bee farm somewhere.
- $240 to exterminate. They don’t do live removals and do say to call a beekeeper if that is my choice.
Beebees Pest Control (call center)
- $145 to exterminate
- $800-$1000 to do a live removal. They then take the bees out into the desert and release them. This is nearly always a death sentence for bees.
Truly Nolan (call center)
- Doesn’t do estimates over the phone
Terminix (call center)
- This one was funny, I have to admit. The woman said they use a freeze spray at the entrance and then add a powder that kills returning bees. She said that if the bee hive is attached to the inside of the wall then they drill holes into the wall and spray the freeze spray. When I asked her if they did live bee removals she asked me if they were honeybees. When I said yes she told me that honeybees were federally protected and no pest control company can legally kill honeybees. The woman said only regular bees like wasps and hornets are allowed to be killed and if they were to come to the house and find that they were honeybees that they could do nothing. (Ok I was literally holding back laughter at this point.) I do have to say that I have encountered Terminix exterminators at Trader Joes when they had a swarm. They do, indeed kill honeybees.
There is so much misinformation about honeybees and removals. Many people don’t think bees can be removed and put into hives. Of course there is always crazy ideas about Africanized bees. FYI most bees in Arizona are Africanized and 100% of them can be rehabilitated!
FYI most bees in Arizona are Africanized and 100% of them can be rehabilitated!
Here is what I do
If someone calls me to do a removal, first… I ‘m super excited! Then I find out where the bees are and how long they have been there. I do have to tell people that I don’t remove bees for free because for some reason people think that they are gifting the bees to me. Once I establish that I do charge and they are willing to pay me, I come out to see what the situation is. If it is outside of my skill level, I have a few beekeepers I can refer them to. Generally cut-outs take 3-5 hours and valve boxes and swarms take an hour or two. Of course, you do have to realize that we have to finish the job at night when all the bees are back from foraging. Sometimes that means we start early in the day and come back to get the bees, or we do it all at night. My last job lasted until 3:30 am.
The number one goal when doing a bee removal is to GET THE QUEEN! That is the pinnacle of satisfaction. Finding and capturing the queen is really the best part of doing removals. Once we have her in a clip and inside the hive, it is only a matter of time for all the bees to realize she is there and begin the march to where she is. The only exception to this is when doing trap-outs. Trap-outs are long-lasting jobs where we place an obstacle to the bees’ re-entering the original hive. They can come out but not go back in. A hive box is placed near the entrance with the hope that they will make that their new home. The queen doesn’t always come out, but part of the process is to give them a brood frame after a few days and then a new queen to lure them to stay. The colony is still saved even if the queen isn’t, and that is the ultimate goal.
the number one goal when doing a bee removal is to GET THE QUEEN!
I encourage you to do your own research on what is going on out there in the world of pest control and exterminators. I don’t like thinking of bees as pests to be exterminated and I think that a lot of people are moving in that direction. We just need to be sure to educate the public about the importance of bees and the ability of beekeepers to save them.