Removal of Bees

This part of my business has a Google Business listing: Henry’s Honey Bee Rescue. You can read customer reviews here.

If the bees are in a cluster outdoors, please visit my Swarm Collection page here.

You will find very short (entertaining?) videos of bee removals on my Instagram page here

I regularly remove bee colonies from the walls and ceilings of homes. It may be quicker/cheaper to have the colony killed by an exterminator, but if the dead bees are left in place, they will create a foul smell as the bees and larvae go rancid. Additionally, if the honeycombs are left in place, they will attract ants and mice… Often the honey will be disturbed and will start to leak out of the walls months later. About 1/4 of my “removal” jobs are to remove dead colonies that are leaking honey. It is therefore usually best to open the wall/ceiling plasterboard to remove the entire bee colony and honeycombs. I typically INCLUDE restoration of the plasterboard, leaving it in a paint-ready state. The work takes anywhere from 2 – 10 hours and costs anywhere from $400 to $4,000 depending on ease of access and how large the colony is.

Below is a typical colony in a wall cavity, in Merrylands, after just 6 weeks. A thermal camera quickly confirms the location:

Below photos show the newly empty cavity, and then the cavity filled with fiberglass insulation to guarantee that no future swarm can colonize the same space. Of course, I also seal the entry-point to prevent future access.

Bees will occasionally move into chimneys. In this case, in Glebe, the chimney pots were sealed to keep out water, but this created a sheltered home for bees:

This chimney in Pymble also hosted bees. They were exposed to rain and not at all healthy. They built their combs about 1 meter down, so we used a compost auger to pull the combs out :

Bees will occasionally move into the roof cavity. This colony in Mosman had only been there for 3 months. I finished the job with roof-tiles replaced and in water-tight condition, but referred them to a roofer to consider replacing the blue sarking and re-pointing the cement on ridge tiles.

Some colonies are very modest in size. This one in Chatswood was living in a hollow post.

This house in Lane Cove had an open floor-plan, so I installed sheeting to keep the bees and smoke out of the house. The colony had only been there for 3 months but had collected over 20kg of honey…

This colony in Epping was about 7 months old. Removal and all repair (including painting) took 6 hours. The bees were saved and relocated. My son (in photo) was stung 7 times. He jumped around a bit, but never complained… The bees came in through a weep-hole in the bricks. I use a bee-vacuum to collect the bees. It sounds rough, but it is the safest way for the bees…

This was a very unique job, at the Metro Trains depot at Tallawong. The bees had moved into the hollow core of a cable spool. I removed the cable and peeled back the decaying wood veneers to expose the colony:

Honey bees love the snug comfort of a wall cavity, but very occasionally they will move into an open attic space (vulnerable to ants/roaches/rats). This photo from Chatrwood shows wax combs attached the roof tiles. Older combs had fallen off (lying flat on the water tank) -probably due to summertime heat on the tiles… But the remaining bees were healthy, now making honey in my apiary.

If access to the wall/ceiling/tree cavity is impossible, I can do a “Trap Out” colony removal. I place a one-way door over the entrance and a beehive beyond that. Over several weeks, all the bees will have to leave the hive (they never poop in the hive), but the one-way door prevents them from getting back in. They establish themselves in the external hive, which I can then move to an acceptable location.

Below is trap-out, in Neutral Bay. I left it for 2 months, by which point the bees were fully established in their new hive. The bees had moved in through a gap around the drain pipe. It was impossible to remove them directly through the ceiling of the bathroom without disturbing fireproofing and waterproofing…

Trap-out removals SOUND like a good solution, but they often take many visits to seal alternate entry points, making them very expensive if you live far away from my home. They also result in the honey remaining in the wall, which attracts ants/roaches/rats. I only do them when there is no other option…

Bee removal with a trap

This colony in Ryde was in place for 5+ years. The bees had been poisoned in the past, but the poison wore-off and the hive was re-colonized by bees a couple years later (the entry-point was not sealed…) Unfortunately, due to the poison, we could not save the honey, but we re-homed the bees to a regular beehive. Bees will smell the honey in “abandoned” hives and go to extreme lengths to get to it. It is best to remove the honey and back-fill with insulation in situations like this.

Bee colony in a wall

This colony in Drummoyne was several years old. The bees were VERY friendly, which made removal much easier. You can see the bees in the dark patch behind my head. All of the white combs are for storing honey.

Bee colony in a  ceiling

This is my daughter (15 then, 18 now), helping with the job. She did not get stung at all, this time…

Bee  honeycomb

This job was in Allambie Heights. The bees were there less than 2 weeks.

Bee colony in a wall

Brick-veneer construction with no insulation leaves plenty of space for a bee nest between vertical studs. Bees entered from a standard wall vent immediately below this cavity. There are about 8,000 bees in a colony this size.

Bee colony in a wall

This photo is a colony in Hunters Hill. The yellow cells in center are bee brood (bee larva sealed-in to undergo metamorphosis into flying insects). The white patch in upper right is mature honey.

Bee colony in a wall

This is a typical layout for a “cut-out”. Hole above ladder exposes the nest.

Bee colony in a ceiling

This is the nest in hole above ladder. They were there for less than 10 days.

Bee colony in a wall

This is one of the combs from the above nest. Friendly bees -I work without gloves whenever possible…

Bee colony in a wall

This shows where the white beeswax combs were attached to the roof of the cavity. I scraped this clean, sealed the gap, removed the last bees, and filled the cavity with glass-wool insulation so that if bees sneak in again, they will not find a cavity for their nest.

Bee colony in a wall

This colony in Green Valley had very little honey. I salvaged just one small piece of honeycomb for the homeowner…

Bee colony in a wall

Here the bees have been removed…

Bee colony in a wall

Here the plasterboard has been repaired, ready for painting…

Bee colony in a wall

This is at a home in Redfern. The bees found the one section of wall that did not have insulation. They were there for about 2 weeks.

Bee colony in a wall

I had to extend the opening into the next cavity to catch all of the bees…

Bee colony in a wall

Here I have filled the cavity with glass-wool insulation, making future re-colonization by bees impossible… (and completing the insulation of their wall!)

Bee colony in a wall

Sometimes bees living in trees also need to be relocated. The hollow in this tree extended as far as I could reach. I also used a chemical bee “repellant” to encourage the bees to come out to where I could catch them.

Bee colony in a tree

Most people in Ku-Ring-Gai council area will remember these green-waste bins. This one was untouched for 5+ years… A small twig held the lid open a crack and bees moved in, probably two summers ago.

Bee colony in a bin
Bee colony in a bin

This colony was in the small roof of a bay window in an old Victorian in North Sydney. The ceiling was plaster-and-lath construction. The black combs were probably 10 years old…

Bee colony in a ceiling

This is after full repair of the plaster:

This was a colony in Newtown, where bees had re-settled in an old colony. The yellow foam was from previous attempts to keep the bees out (they will try very hard to get into cavities that smell good to them from previous colonies…):

Bee colony in a wall

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