FAQ

I have bees getting in through gaps in the tiles of my roof, can you remove them?

Roof colonies are tricky as they often have very many points of access. The only way to proceed without killing the bees is to use a “cutout” approach. This is most safely done from beneath the roof on the inside of the building and may involve cutting away plaster work from inside a room.

You have done a cutout but I keep seeing bees hanging around, what is going on?

Bees are strongly attracted to the smell of honey. You are likely seeing robber bees looking for honey to steal and take back to their hive. This can be an advantage as they will quickly clear up any residual sticky mess from the cutout. Alternatively they may be scout bees looking for a location for a new home, again the smell of the old colony is very attractive and a new swarm may want to settle. It is important to seal the location carefully and plug the cavity, eg with insulation wool.

I have bees in my roof/wall/etc… do they need to be removed?

Bees do not necessarily damage property when they make their colonies and many houses have bees living in them for decades. Damage to property is most likely to occur when a colony dies off, or is killed with pesticides, as the wax can melt in hot weather. Honey can leak and stain woodwork, plaster and furnishings. Bees that die over winter usually have first exhausted their honey stores so there is little left to cause damage.

I would usually only recommend removing bees if they are causing a nuisance to people – getting into the interior of the house, flying close to pedestrian areas, or if they are aggressive.

A colony which has died out over winter is very likely to be recolonised the following year as swarms are very attracted to the smell of the old wax.

Can you remove bumblebees?

I do not typically remove bumblebees, although it is sometimes possible. They are not a nuisance species and, unlike honey bees and wasps, their small colonies only live for a couple of months. If left in peace they will not bother anyone and will soon be gone. Bees that go into a hole in the ground, or near ground level, are more likely to be bumblebees than honey bees.

3 thoughts on “FAQ

  1. Hi Mike

    Do you belong to a local bee keeping organisation? I came across your site by chance today and I like your way of thinking in relation to a fairly natural way of beekeeping. I am very interested in natural beekeeping can you recommend anyone with whom I can chat – I live in Elham. A couple of years ago we let a local beekeeper have hives on our land in return for some jars of honey! Do you or do you know of anyone who would like to house a couple of hives on our organic bee friendly field? I do not work so can monitor the bees! I am also very keen on bumble bees, wild bees and solitary bees and would happily offer them a nice new home if need be – but I guess the logistics of rehoming these types are more difficult. Kindest Regards Nicky

    • Hi Nicky,

      I’m not currently a member of a local Beekeeping Association, although I may rejoin at some point. It has been my experience that Beekeeping Associations in general are not very accepting or aware of treatment free practices, which go against the established rhetoric of feed-treat-feed-treat for commercial bees. I believe that this is gradually changing however.

      I don’t currently have enough hives to warrant placing any away from home, as I’m building up my bee numbers again after a few years without any. I developed a serious allergy to bee stings (relatively common with beekeepers) and had to have a course of desensitisation treatment. Depending on how this season goes I may be in a position to start an out-apiary next summer.

      If you want to read more about natural beekeeping methods the “biobees” forum is good, as is the book “The Barefoot Beekeeper” by Phil Chandler.

      Regarding other types of bees – I generally don’t recommend rehoming them as they don’t do well when moved, and tend to have short lifecycles anyway. A better way to encourage them is to provide suitable habitat for them; you can find plans for solitary bee and mason bee nest boxes online and they look quite easy to make. A pesticide free environment is a big help too!

      My hives are based in Barham; not too far from you.

      Mike

  2. Hi Mike

    Thank you for your prompt reply. At last a local like minded bee keeper. I too am not keen on going down the bee keeping association route as my experience of the few I have met is too clinical and I do not agree with feeding them sugar solution!! I do have the Barefoot Beekeeper blog site book marked together with his podcasts and plan to listen/study them this coming winter. I have started to make posts for solitary and other types of bees which have proved very sucessful in the two weeks in which they have been in place. I shall continue to plant patches of nectar rich plants and will go with the flow!

    May I wish you every success in your ventures and if I can assist in anyway please do let me know.

    Kindest Regards Nicky

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