I love learning new ways to remove bees from structures in order to rescue them from extermination. I’ve removed bees from trees with a forced abscond as well as with a cone mesh trap-out. Both of these were very successful, but haven’t been so lucky with block walls because cones are difficult to attach.
So the other day I was reading posts on the Arizona Backyard Beekeepers Facebook group and someone posted that they had bee escapes for sale and I think they mentioned trap-outs. It just so happened that in that same week I got two calls for bees in block walls. I so don’t like telling people that their bee situation is too difficult or impossible for me, but that is what I’ve had to say before now. I just had no luck attaching cones to walls. In these two cases the homeowners really did not want to kill the bees but the colonies were becoming a nuisance being so near the pool (coincidentally both were right next to pools).
One wall had two small entrances in the grout, and the other’s entrance was in the corner seam.
Initially I attempted to attach a cone with caulk onto the corner wall entrance, but the bees kept finding ways in and out where it was not securely attached.
In the meantime, I decided to try my new plan for using a bee escape on the other wall. It seemed a perfect option because the holes were about the size of the bee escape and I thought It would be easy to attach with caulk. I looked around for other entrances and found none.
Here is the bee escape in action. I filled the bottom entrance with caulk and then attached the bee escape with caulk, making sure that the caulk didn’t seep into the hole and close it off. I did have to reapply caulk around the edge of the bee escape because the bees had found a way in. They will chew through caulk, so do a thick bead around the bee escape.
This way of doing a trap-out was so easy that I wondered if there was a way to use it for the other wall. After some thought I came up with the idea of attaching the bee escape to a board with a hole drilled in it. Then I could place the board in the corner and fill in the space with steel wool and caulk.
I ended up propping a rock up against the board to hold it in place and then filled the gaps with steel wool. I had to make a few adjustments the following day, but the bees have not found a way to thwart my efforts on this one.
Once there are a frame or two worth of bees going into the trap-out hive I like to put a honey or brood frame in along with a feral queen in a clip or cage if I have one. This really helps them feel at home and has made my trap-outs very successful.
I’m very happy that the bee escape is working so well because it gives me a simple option for trap-outs. The thing to remember when deciding to do any trap-out, however, is that it will require several visits and the bees can be kind of testy during the 2-3 weeks for the colony to leave the original home. I only do these kind of jobs when it is in a convenient location for me, but it’s super satisfying when it does work. The queen may not emerge, but once the colony has filled the box and is filling the frames, I feel that I can safely seal the holes and know that the colony will survive even if not every bee makes it out. I only do this when I see little if any activity around the entrance, or if the homeowner is tired of having the hive there.
Go save some bees and let me know if this method works out for you.