Remove honey bees from house

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I recently went on a 1-week business trip followed by a 2-week vacation with my wife and kids. During the three weeks that we were away, some honey bees decided my home would be a good place to set up shop. I knew there was a problem because there were several hundred dead honey bees in my basement directly underneath the only window down there. They were coming in from a hive they had made in the floorboards in an extension from the house.

When I discovered the bee problem I did a lot of online research to find out what is the best and most thorough way to remove the honey bees from my home. Here are my findings/conclusions with some online references at the bottom.

The beehive and some of the 20 - 30,000 bees living under my floorboards. Click image to enlarge.

Brief overview of options

  • Call a beekeeper to come and remove the bees.
  • Call an exterminator and see what they will do
  • Exterminate the bees yourself

NOTE: Whatever you do, DO NOT simply seal up the opening where you see bees entering & exiting. They will simply find another way out of the wall/floor where they reside. This often means that they will find a way into the interior of you home, harassing you and your family.

I called several exterminators, but none of them will remove honey bees from within a home (neither alive nor dead). Furthermore, none of them even had any contact info for anyone who can remove the honey bees.

You can exterminate the bees yourself by drilling a hole in your wall/floor directly in the center of the hive and pumping pesticide (like Sevin) into the hole. The problem is that if you don’t get the hive directly, the bees can move deeper in the wall/floor and make a new hive. Or if they do die then you still need to remove the honeycomb. If you don’t remove the honeycomb then it will rot and drip, make a mess in your home, smell bad, and attract more bees and pests.

Calling a beekeeper to remove the bees (while they’re alive) usually will make the most sense. This was the option that I decided to do. However, it took me a full day of calling around and searching online before I actually found a beekeeper anywhere nearby willing to remove honey bees from within a wall or floor of a home (most will remove them from your property if easily accessible, but not from within your home). Eventually I found this website (http://www.massbee.org/services/?ServiceType=swarms&SortOrder=Name&ShowListing=684) that listed bee removal services in Massachusetts. I’ve heard that some beekeepers will remove bees for free, but I felt lucky enough to find someone at all, so I didn’t care too much that it was not free (cost was $300).

Removing the bees
Here are the basic steps that the beekeeper followed to remove the bees and the hive. Make sure you are wearing a protective beekeeper type of suit if you are going to attempt this yourself.

  1. Locate where the bees are coming in and out (wall, ceiling, attic, floor, eves, etc.)
  2. Find exact location within wall where the hive resides. This was done by using a stethoscope to locate the general area, then drilling small hole and using a fiber optic scope to confirm where the hive is.
  3. Gain access to hive (i.e., cut out the wall section or bottom side of floorboards). Make sure to mask off any entryways into that location so that bees don’t go flying all over your home.
  4. The beekeeper gaining access to the my floorboards where the hive was built. Luckily my floorboards were easily accessible from outside. Click image to enlarge.
  5. Use smoke to inhibit the bees’ defensiveness.
  6. Remove hive, breaking off chunks at a time. Put them in a container. This will make mess, so be careful. At some point you may see the queen. The bees will stay around the queen, so keep the container with the queen nearby.
  7. Removing chunks of honeycomb and putting them in a frame for safe keeping. Click image to enlarge.
  8. Vacuum up any remaining bees after the hive has been removed.
  9. Clean/scrape away any residue remaining from the hive.
  10. Spray repellant to keep bees away that may still be trying to find the hive.
  11. Repair the location of the removal.
  12. Seal up the entrance that the bees used to get into your home.
  13. Figure out what to do with the bees. The beekeeper I used keeps the bees (hence his job title).

The beekeeper gave us a part of the honeycomb. It was cool to taste a part of it, which of course tastes like honey.
The beekeeper putting the frames into a box in which the bees can live and be transported. Click image to enlarge.

The beekeeper I used has carpentry skills, so he offered to fix up the hole for a charge (it is normal for it to be the homeowner’s responsibility to repair the hole that was made to gain access to the hive), but I decided that with the bees gone I was comfortable doing the repairs myself.

The location where the hive was removed. Click image to enlarge.

The hive removal location after I replaced the plywood. Scrap plywood can be had for cheap or free at your local lumberyard. Click image to enlarge.

Online References
I found the following sites useful when researching how to get rid of bees from my home:

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