Honeybee Removals

If bees are living in your property for awhile, read below

How Honeybee Removal Works

If you need assistance with a SWARM of honeybees as soon as possible click here.

Swarms.ie’s first priority is to collect honey bee swarms before they move into property, as extracting them after they have established a colony is painful, difficult and sometimes expensive to the homeowner.

If you are reading this page, then it’s likely the bees are already living in your roof, walls or chimney. 

Definitions

Honeybee Swarm: A mass of bees, anywhere from 5-20k insects, migrating between the original colony and a new future one. Swarms tend to rest on external objects before establishing a new colony while scouts go looking for a suitable home. Usually they will locate a dry, dark cavity of approx 40 litres of volume to set up a new colony. In nature they look for the hollow of a tree, in Urban environments, a chimney, cavity of a wall, or the space between the rafters under your roof tiles can attract them. A swarm is made up of the adult bees only. Swarms are less defensive than colonies as there are no resources or young to defend. Swarms can still sting however. Swarms are attracted to the smells of old\dead colonies and will inhabit empty old colonies. Swarm collections are relatively easy to deal with for a beekeeper and usually completable in minutes.

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Honeybee Colony: A colony is a collection of adult bees and the wax structures they construct to store their food (nectar, honey & pollen) and to raise their brood (baby bees: eggs and larvae). They can be as small as 5000 to as big (or bigger) than 50000 members. A colony is established, usually living in a location for months to years. Colonies can be very defensive as they have both resources and young to protect. Bees will sting if they feel threatened. A sting can encourage more stings due to the pheromones that the sting gives off. Colonies can die out for a variety of reasons, however if the structure remains (if unmanaged by humans), it will most likely attract a new swarm at some point, sooner rather than later. Colony removals can be a nightmare for the beekeeper, from just about manageable to the impossible. They can take hours to weeks to complete a removal.

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Types of Colonies in Properties

We typically get the same types of removals to deal with year in year out as bees are relative creatures of habit. Examples include bees living in cavities of a wall, bees living in the fascia board of a roof, bees living in a chimney or gas\water meter boxes, these are the common. Bees also end up in random places like the back of vans, inside suitcases, compost bins or post boxes, or hanging from the inside roof of a shed or your BBQ. The former examples tend to be much harder to solve than the latter.

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Renting of either is going to add considerable expense to the removal, but, it is not feasible to open a roof and have boxes, various pieces of equipment & bee hoovers hanging off our belts to do so safely without them. Ladders do not usually cut it. It is Swarms.ie policy to never appoint a beekeeper for a removal at height unless the appropriate safety equipment has been provided first, please do not pressure us on this, we won’t make exceptions. We understand you have a problem you did not cause, but safety first always. 

In many cases of roof removals, you are going to also need to have a qualified builder\roofer on hand to assist with the job. The beekeepers available on this website are not builders or construction workers, we do not repair roofs or structures nor make out any claims of such, as we are neither qualified or insured for this work. Typically the bees have found a weakness in the structure due to rot or damage, a hole in your home basically. This is a problem that will also need to be solved once the bees have been removed and the best time to solve it is as soon as the bees have been removed. 

Our role in this process is specifically the removal of the bees. If safety equipment or other professionals are required (scaffolding\builders) that is a cost that the homeowner must cover. If you know someone to take responsibility for the roof or can provide the right equipment, that can work, we try to keep this as economical as possible. Generally in most cases where expense is not involved, beekeepers do not charge for their time. If distance is involved mileage may be charged, but otherwise, we are happy to just take the bees as payment if they are alive and well. 

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Our role in this process is specifically the removal of the bees. If safety equipment or other professionals are required (scaffolding\builders) that is a cost that the homeowner must cover. If you know someone to take responsibility for the roof or can provide the right equipment, that can work, we try to keep this as economical as possible. Generally in most cases where expense is not involved, beekeepers do not charge for their time. If distance is involved mileage may be charged, but otherwise, we are happy to just take the bees as payment if they are alive and well. 

Sometimes, bees at height have moved into a cavity of the home between the floor and the plaster of the ceiling below it. In these uncommon situations, scaffolding is not required as extraction can occur from within the property. This will involve however the removal of material to access the bees (sections of plaster etc). In these types of cases we can operate alone in opening the cavity, but you would still need a professional in order to repair the damage caused. 

Typically we are not able to provide honeybee extraction services outside of the months of April to September.
If the extraction process requires removing bees externally in the colder months, this will most likely cause the death of the colony of bees, which makes our efforts pointless. Colonies go into a type of hibernation during the colder months and will not be very active if at all, they “cluster” together, sort of like a big group hug to stay warm, they do not increase in numbers (they tend to decrease) and they consume the materials they have stored (ie the honey). Disturbing bees in cluster can make them very defensive, again a reason beekeepers avoid this work outside of the quoted timelines. Ideally we will extract the colonies in the Spring, as there will be a smaller amount of bees with less honey to extract than in mid summer or after, a quicker, cleaner and safer removal for all. This is not always possible however. 

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Why Extermination of Honeybees is a Terrible Idea

It might seem like the advice of someone who says to just use pesticide is a good idea. You will cease to have an active honeybee colony in your roof, temporarily at least, but you have now greatly increased your chances of a maggot or rodent infestation. Wasps are typically poisoned when not reachable, as there is far less organic matter to worry about, and wasps generally don’t live in the same spot over and over. But with honeybees, honeybees create and collect a large mass of organic materials (honey, nectar, pollen, wax, brood, and the bees themselves), poisoning them in place only leads to a free lunch for something even more undesirable. Feel free to google the results of poisoning bees. This is to forget to mention that bees should not be poisoned, just because. Besides it causing maggots, swarms of bees will be attracted to the smell of a dead colony and you’ll just repeat the cycle all over again. 
 

When we have to work with Builders\Roofers During COVID19

In many situations with roof removals, we need to have the assistance of the roofer\builder to properly open your roof to extract the bees correctly, along with the organics, to thoroughly clean the cavity and leave it so it is no longer desirable for a future colony. We are not builders\roofers as explained, are role is merely extraction, and we do not take any liability for the structure or any future problems such as leaks. You will need a professional, competent and insured tradesperson for this. Any damage to the structure which caused the bees to enter in the first place will need to be repaired. During the remainder of the COVID19 lockdown, we will not be able to perform extractions as we usually would, as we must maintain social distancing. This may cause delays to us providing you assistance which is regrettable. 

 Generally, a beekeeper will not agree to a property removal until after a builder\roofer is confirmed and the PPE has been organised. Once those assurances are in place, it becomes much easier to get a volunteer to assist in these types of cases.


Costs you can expect in an Extraction

Scaffolding can cost anywhere from 100-300e per day, please reference your local hardware rental provider for accurate charges. We generally do not provide our own scaffolding. If dealing with an issue below 10 feet, we can typically get away with using ladders, however it is not ideal. Higher than that is an issue and we must insist on corrective equipment. 

Scaffolding needs to have clear access below the colony entry point to be useful. If there is no clear space below the colony (if an extension is in the way) a cherry picker may be necessary. These can be very expensive to rent (400e per day). It all depends on the circumstances of the colony location. 

Many builder\roofer contractors can provide their own means (scaffolding) to access an issue, tradespersons such as these will likely be cheaper overall, so ring around when looking for a suitable contractor. 

Typically you will need the tradespersons services for a day, first to help open the cavity (we provide a spare bee suit to protect them), then we perform our extraction which usually takes a few hours, then once finished, the contractor needs to repair the opening and any original issues. 

Extractions tend to be more common rurally but increasingly this is needed in urban environments. Erecting scaffolding in a private rural homeplace is a lot easier than on the main street of a town. By law scaffolding in built up areas requires county council permits, which are not cheap, so ensure your contractor is legally capable of putting up said structures in that county. 

If a beekeeper has to travel a large distance to assist you (as no one else has volunteered to do the work) then a mileage fee may apply. We try to keep the bees and the beekeepers locally but this is not always possible.

Click on the below image to add your name to our Colony Removal Tracker.

By filling in the questions at the following link, you will be added to the Colony Removal List and emailed a Case Number. Once registered, you will be asked to provide further information to diagnose the issues, this will include photos and or video. 

GDPR: Please note the information recorded about you is solely used for the purposes of getting you help. It will never be shared with anyone other than the volunteer beekeeper who will directly assist you. Once the case is complete, your personal details will be deleted. Swarms.ie complies with all requirements outlined in GDPR legislation.