Honey Bees

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Honey Bees

Post by Cat »

Hi All,

We're probably within 30 days of closing on our old house, and since it's closer to being ours, I'm trying to make some decisions! :)

So, the house has been vacant for a few years and while it appears to have weathered the years well (while it had NO attention), honey bees have taken up residence in at least two walls. On our last visit to the house, we noticed that in both the east and west exterior walls, honey bees are VERY actively going in and out from under the wood siding about midway between the two levels. After searching the web, I'm fairly certain these are honey bees, and not wasps, yellow jackets, or any other kind of pest-type bee. When we had the home inspected earlier this year, we did not take notice of the honey bee activity, but it was an unusually cold and wet spring...so it's possible they were there and no one noticed?

In any event, has any one had any luck having them "removed" by perhaps a local bee keeper seeking to enlarge his/her "flock"? Or is extermination the only option? And if we simply exterminate them, what happens to the hive/honey that *must* be in the walls?


Brickman House

Re: Honey Bees

Post by Brickman House »


Too funny-- I'm on this board for the first time in at least a month (hate it when RL intrudes into my old house interests!) and the second thread I read addresses an issue we're wrestling with right now.

I have no words of wisdom for you, but just wanted to check in to say that I feel your pain and will be interested to see any replies.

We've torn off the asbestos shingles on our 1840 farmhouse, exposing the original clapboards underneath, and have been repairing the damaged clapboards in preparation for painting. On the north side of the house, there was an old window that was boarded up with plywood prior to the asbestos siding being installed, and we discovered when we ripped off the siding that a colony of honey bees had taken up residence.

Gah. I like honey, but not manufactured in the walls of my house. We discussed the issue preliminarily with a beekeeper, who offered to come remove the colony for the small (?!?!) sum of $400, but other projects this spring and summer have crept up on the priority list and eaten into our budget.

At this point, the budget for this particular project supports, maybe, a can of Raid. The $400 beekeeper warned us that if we simply eradicate the colony, we'll have a mass of honey dripping in our walls, which will only attract ants. But since we're going to be opening up the wall anyway to repair the window opening and replace the siding, I'm figuring we can take care of the mess o'honey then. But I don't know... jury's still out, and I'm worried there are issues we haven't thought of yet.

Hope you get some good replies!


Re: Honey Bees

Post by richie »

It's hard for bee keepers to extract a nest from a house. It's hard to get at the queen when there's carpentry going on.

We have repeat offender bees in the tops of porch columns. I spray em, and later - remove column panels to clean em out. I've tried to seal off the columns, but that hasn't worked.

Smoke a lot in the area (good bees don't attack when there's smoke about). And bees hate my weed eater, so I tend to bring it along as a decoy and let them attack it when running seems appropriate.

If bees attack in smoke, you've got bad bees. Get medical help right away, and get professional help to remove them.

You may want to try pressing your ear against the wall around where the bees are, if you hear buzzing - it's probably not a lot of bees. If you're stunned by the all the noise, you've got a large colony. The first time I did this, I estimated the number of bees in the column at 3 million. It was way loud and almost scary.

If I had spare time, I'd try vinegar or something else to pursuade the bees to leave. But since it's faster, I've relyed on "long shot" sprays to knock down the sentries and dampen activity. I do this every 3 days for weeks until one day, there's no buzzing sound in the wall.

Haven't gotten large piles of dead bees so I like to think the bees get the hint and leave. I read some years ago that bee populations are suffering because of homeowners and farmers poisoning the heck out of em. I like to think bees get a fighting chance by spoiling a location.



Re: Honey Bees

Post by HB »

You could try one of those electronic devices that chases pests away. or you could wait til it gets cold and remove them and transplant them to an old stump or some sort of structure that you built for them. The cold will slow them down. If it doesn't get cold where you are, you could spray the nest with a CO2 fire extinguisher do a little work and then spray it again. this should slow them down enough for you to carefully get some work done.

I too, dislike having to kill beneficial bees. yellow jackets are fair game though.

Good Luck


Re: Honey Bees

Post by farmgirl »

Hi Cat- We had a similar problem with a hive of bees that had taken up residence under clapboard siding in an empty house.They had been there for years. Finally, we found a beekeeper who was willing to bait and trap them, and take them home. It was amazing to watch the bees swarm out and into his box! You may have to talk to several beekeepers before you find someone who will do it for you.(no charge). The honey/hive is something you will have to deal with by removing siding until you can get to it and take it out. Messy job, but you'll need to do it. Good luck!



Re: Honey Bees

Post by Denise »

I'm not living in Georgia anymore, but there are folks advertising in the Farmer's bulletin that they will come and remove bees. Not sure where you are at, but just in case you ARE in Georgia, here's the link for that publication:


Click on the "ads" link on the side. Lots of neat old-timey / farming stuff to look at there, too.



Re: Honey Bees

Post by Cat »

Thanks, Denise. We're in NY -- but that's a good tip, maybe there's a similar list that exists for NY? I'll have to do some more 'net searching. :)


Re: Honey Bees

Post by Cat »

LOL! I feel so much better just to know we're not alone! :)) We also have the same budget too because we're not getting into this restoration with near the money we had expected to have (unemployment tends to do that)! ;) Oh well, we knew it would be a long term project...it'll just be longer.

I did some more research after I posted this message last night and discovered that not only will the remaining honey attract ants and other undesireable (and possibly *much* larger guests) but:

-the wax honey combs will also draw wax moths (not sure what they are but that can't be good);

-the wax honey combs can also be a fire hazard (particularly if located near a chimney) once the bees are gone -- because (get this) the bees *themselves* some how help keep the wax cool enough not to melt and become hazardous;

-and once the hive is gone and there is no more maintenance on the honey combs and the honey -- it can all leak through out the wall voids and cause permanent staining to walls and floors.

Ugh. Seems like just removing the bees and leaving the hive is not a real option. I'm also a big fan of honey but I know we need to do a lot of work on the clapboards and interior walls and I'm not sure we can do any or all of that with our bee friends. Unless they want to pay rent....and then I might be willing to work with them. ;)

The good news for us both is that some of the sites I found suggest that the *best* time to remove a hive is late winter/early spring (like Feb-March). It said because that is the time when the hive population is at it's lowest and the bees are the least active. So we both maybe have some time to figure this out.

PS -- is your screen name the name of your house? I ask because the historic name of our (future) home is the Brett-HICKMAN Homestead and the main section was built in 1835 (the original smaller el is circa 1750).


Re: Honey Bees -- richie & HB

Post by Cat »

I like the vinegar idea. And we do have those electronic pest things....once I get the electric hooked up, that's antoher option. I might be able to use something like that to encourage them to find a more suitable home. Then perhaps we can remove the combs and honey over the winter after they've moved on and before it becomes a bigger problem.

I also read things about the honey bee problems -- some sites even encourage you to try and live with them. I would consider that if I really didn't need to do some work right where they are. Hopefully, I'll be able to locate a keeper who wants them. Or maybe in the process, I'll learn enough about them and keep them for myself! Some where other then the walls of our house though. :)

Nancy W.

Re: Honey Bees

Post by Nancy W. »

A beekeeper friend has acquired "wild" hives by placing an empty hive box near the wild hive. It works best if you can get some of the hives own honey into the box. Just let the box sit there, 3 or 4 days, the bees will move over on their own. They do not always cooperate. My friend would get wild hives from houses as a favor, as long as he didn't need to climb a ladder to do it. He figured he didn't need/want the hive enough to risk injury. He always tried to let them move themselves as I mentioned above. He also had to get enough of the honey so they would have food through the winter, until they could make more honey in the spring. They are less active in cool weather and smoke does calm them down.


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