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Friday, April 22, 2016

Bee Hive/Swarm On Your Property - Can it Be Saved or Rescued?

Bee On My Flowering Syrian Oregano
Dear Folks,

This is a follow up to my post the other day on May Gardening Tips and my comments about Bee-Aware and calling the Fire Department who will destroy the hive.

I received a note from a reader who asked why I did not list some beekeeper / rescue organizations who can recover the hive and keep the hive/swarm alive.

It is a good question and the reason I did not address it is most people who encounter a hive / swarm on their property are too concerned about the safety of their family and pets to do more than call for First Responders.  I wanted folks to know the Firefighters do not have a choice in destroying the hive because of the Africanized Bee problem.

Sooooo, let me give you 3 stories and several resources for beekeepers who MAY be able to rescue / recovery the hive.  I say MAY because of two of the stories which are very typical.  Bee recovery folks are brave and knowledgeable individuals who capture the hive, kill the queen and replace her with a gentle bee variety who in short order morphs the hive into a non-africanized colony by immediately laying eggs with her gentle disposition.

Story 1
My Deane is a retired Fireman/EMT and was a beekeeper and loved his bees like pets.  He cared for them in the best ways possible.  I learned much of what I know about bees from him.

While still active, one of the many bee calls came to his station.  Remember he knows bees.  A swarm had invaded the side of a shed and a beekeeper had been called out.  As soon as the beekeeper, who was dressed appropriately started to work the swarm broke over him and was in full rage mode.  When Deane and his crewmates arrived the huge swarm (probably 50,000-75,000+ strong attached the crew.  Those who were in full protective gear needed to get the beekeeper away and pull the foam hose to start spraying the bees and shed.  After everything was settled down, the bees dead and the beekeeper safe, Deane looked at his glove.  He counted 11 stingers per inch on his glove.

A fully enraged hive/swarm is unrecoverable.

Story 2
My cousin and I, along with Deane, feel very strongly about trying to save the swarm rather than kill it.  She noticed activity outside the front of her house near the lower windowsill.   She called me and I gave her the name of a beekeeper who rescues hives and uses them for pollinating orchards and such.

He arrived and determined the swarm had invaded the interior of the walls and there was no way to recover the hive (because there was no way to get to the queen - if you capture the queen the hive will follow into the box or container) without pulling out the front of the house.

She had to call an exterminator who said it was one of the worse jobs he had to do because of how far into the wall the swarm had gotten.

If the swarm gets into the walls or attic of buildings it is impossible to rescue / recover them without destroying property.

Story 3
One of the many aspects of dealing with bees is to 1) not do anything stupid, and 2) understand their typical behavior.

We are careful to move slowly among flowering plants because the girls are doing their job pollinating and because we ALWAYS have things blooming in the garden to encourage them to visit, often.

I wear light clothing colors.  There is a good theory that dark colored clothing is so similar to the bees enemy the bear that the dark colors can irritate them.

If they are near you, DO NOT OPEN your mouth.  They do not like human breath.  Don't swat at them.

So, one morning some years ago I was working in the front of my old home under / near a tangerine tree in the spring.  I am so used to the hum of bees working the flowers near me I never give it any thought.

I was bending over under the tree, stood up and found myself INSIDE a swarm.  They moved that fast into and around the tree.

I immediately stood very still, took stock of where I was, whether the queen had landed on me (that would have made it more difficult but not impossible to be safe), kept my mouth shut and tried to ease my breathing and relax.  It was an equal distance to my front door or my car, so I decided to ease myself towards my car because I had elderly neighbors who I was concerned that they may be outside.

As I slowly back away from the tree the swarm started to "flow" with me like water, but the further I got away from the tree the flow of bees started to eddy back toward the tree where the queen was.  I got to the car with nary a bee near me, got in and made sure the windows were up.

I determined the neighbors were not out, got out of the car and made my way safely to the house and called everyone and told them not go outside until they heard from me.

I Was Not Stung!!

Swarming bees are filled with honey for the trip.  They do not want to get into a fight, they want to find a home and are following their queen.  I did not do anything to annoy them or endanger their queen.  In a while they determined the tangerine tree was not suitable for them and the swarm took off.

Swarming Is A Natural Process of splitting hives and most swarms never present a problem.  If you tree bees, hives and swarms with respect you will not be in danger.

The bottom line is - yes swarms/hives can sometimes be recovered or rescued, but only by professionals.  And sometimes the hives have to be destroyed to protect people and animals, even foolish people who do stupid things to bees.

Beekeepers or Services who can SOMETIMES rescue hives:

Bee Rescue and Removal Service and Local Organic Raw Honey

Dan Punch

Dan also foster's bee hives on people's property.

Dave Petersen
Gilbert, AZ

Phone: 480-221-6875

AZ POLLINATORS  - have beekeepers in Tucson and Phoenix area
David Bies! THANK YOU!


I hope this helps you understand bees more and what options you have if you encounter a swarm / hive on your property.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady If you enjoyed this post, subscribe in the upper side bar link, to get all my posts! Disclaimer: Clicking on links on this blog may earn me a small commission if you purchase something. Your price does not change.

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