Thursday, June 3, 2010

Unwanted Bees

Beekeepers will do everything that they can to protect honey bees. However, there are times that bees are positioned where they create a safety hazard or they cannot be removed alive. We are called upon regularly to handle feral colonies in structures or swarms close to people. Just this evening, I was asked to take care of a swarm of bees close to the front door of a house occupied by small children. The residents were surprised that I was able to move the bees from the cedar tree branch to a box held underneath by giving the branch one sharp shake. Often beekeepers can discuss a number of options available to people who find that they are sharing space with honey bees. Many people are willing to leave a honey bee colony in place if it is in a hollow tree or a building wall. The determining factors are often the position of the entrance to the hive and how close the bees’ flight path is to humans.

Bees are moved for a number of reasons. Swarms are captured and carried to managed bee yards. Hives are carried to farms to pollinate crops. Hives are moved between a beekeeper’s dispersed bee yards. Hives are bought and sold. Hives are usually moved when colonies are divided. Changing land usage often requires bee yards to be moved. Regardless the reason for moving bees from one location to another, problems can arise. The problem often is the result of bees escaping from the truck in which they are being carried. This occurred at a truck service company in nearby West Memphis, Arkansas at a major crossroads in America’s interstate highways. A migratory beekeeper’s truck was brought into the service bay with a flat tire. While the tire was being repaired, honey bees escaped from the netted truck. Most settled above the 18-foot-high doors to the shop. A number of workers were stung. Tod Underhill killed the bees with soapy water.

1 comment:

  1. Many seem to be exterminated because looking for a honey bee club isn't the first thought (mainly as many don't even know they exist!) Flyers for schools would be a good place to start... even a quick clip on the evening news to raise awareness.
    Although not all clubs can do it obviously, but it is something to consider (making local schools aware who they can call)... besides rehoming the bees, it is healthier for the kids to use pesticides as a last resort.