Honey bees swarm in the southwestern Virginia region from about late March to July, depending on weather conditions. Honey bee swarms will cling to trees, fences, mailboxes or any other structure. The swarm may be as small as a grapefruit or as large as a beach ball.
Swarms should be removed within 24 hours of their arrival before they find a permanent location. Swarms that remain in one location for more than 24 hours start to become "dry" swarms. They have consumed much of the honey they brought with them. "Dry" swarms are hungry and will become increasingly defensive.
After 24 to 72 hours the swarm will move into a void within a tree or structure. This may be your house or building. If the swarm moves into a structure, the removal of the colony is considered an extraction. Bees that have established themselves inside any
type of structure are not "swarms." They are colonies.
If you believe you have a honey bee swarm on your property in Montgomery County, Pulaski County, or the City of Radford in Virginia, call us immediately at (540) 577-4699.
Honey Bee Extraction
Once a swarm has moved into a tree or structure the honey bees must be extracted. The bees have built comb, are raising young, and storing honey. They will defend their hive and not leave voluntarily.
The owner's first inclination might be to seal the entrance. Unfortunately, the colony will find or make another way out of the hive. This may be into the inside of your structure.
The owner's next inclination is to take a can of insecticide and attempt to kill the colony. While this is possible, there are consequences. First, it is unlikely spraying with an off-the-shelf insecticide at the entrance will kill the colony. The owner may kill hundreds or even thousands of workers. The colony will have tens of thousands of workers so the loss of a few hundred field bees will be quickly made up. Also, few beekeepers will remove a colony after it has been sprayed with insecticide for fear of contamination to themselves and their equipment.
If the owner is fortunate and persistent enough to actually kill the colony, then the real trouble begins. Within the walls of the structure will be five to ten pounds of dead bees and, depending on the time of year, over 100 pounds of contaminated honey. This dead colony must be removed. If it is not, small hive beetles may move in and lay their eggs. This would result in a stinking mass of maggot-like larva and fermenting honey running down the inside of walls of the structure. Even if the small hive beetle does not appear, the bees will rot; the comb will melt; and the honey will flow.
What can you do? First is an ounce of prevention. Make sure there are no voids within the walls of your home or structure. Check that any cracks and openings that might let honey bees into your home or structure are caulked. Finally, if you see a swarm outside your structure, call a beekeeper immediately. It is better to catch the swarm before it moves into your home.
If you have a colony in the walls of your structure, call a beekeeper first. As previously stated, once a colony has been sprayed with an insecticide, most beekeepers will not remove the colony. If you believe you have a colony in your structure in Montgomery County, Pulaski County, or the City of Radford in Virginia, call us immediately at (540) 577-4699 for a consultation.
Honey Bee Extraction is not inexpensive.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.