Removing a hive from an existing structure requires much work.
Shaking a swarm from a branch is easy compared to removing a full grown hive from a structure, having to tear out walls and remove every bee including the queen.
First, we have the owner sign a release form giving us permission to remove the hive and for them to repair any damage.
Next, we gather up essential tools for the job. This is critical.
Having done my share of these removals, I have found that several tools are essential for me, but you may not need them all. Minimally you will need a smoker, a bee suit, gloves and tools to remove whatever is covering the bees. But, for me to get the job done, I use a bee vac, an alternate power source such as an auto inverter or a generator to run my saws and bee vac, a saws-all, a good bee suit, containers for the brood and honey not to mention demolition equipment such as crowbars, hammers, ladders, et.
The Unseen Costs of Bee Removal
One of the most concrete expenses in live bee removal is the equipment required to house the bees. A basic setup will cost the beekeeper at least $150 for every new colony and often times more.
Time & Gas
When a beekeeper comes to your home to remove bees, they are in the very least, spending their time and gas to get there. The more complex the bee removal, the more time it requires. Large, sticky removals often result in an additional time expense of clean up.
Beekeeping is a skill that takes years to learn. Depending on how much time they have to devote to it, most beekeepers take about 2 years to really understand the craft. Bee removal is a separate skill set that can also take years to perfect, although most beekeepers are capable of simple swarm removals.
Health & Safety
Some bee removal works pose a risk to the beekeeper’s safety. Often removals involve heights and power tools. Combine that with stinging insects and it’s not too hard to imagine how an accident might happen. This is especially true in areas with Africanized bees, where the sting radius expands considerably, threatening not only the beekeeper but any bystanders. Additionally, cutting into older structures to remove bees could expose the beekeeper to lead paint, asbestos or other harmful materials.
Every new colony takes up space in the apiary. Some beekeepers have limited space and can only house so many bees. They may even be paying rent or honey for access to the land.
Once a beekeeper has acquired a new colony, they must care for it for the rest of its lifespan. That might be years. Not only is this time and effort, but there will be ongoing expenses. The bees may need a new queen, feed and/or medicine.
Insurance & Business Expenses
If the beekeeper is running a business, they will have additional expenses associated with bee removal work. They are likely paying for liability insurance, workman’s comp, employees, a website, advertising, etc.
Every location is different with its own unique mix of beekeepers. When seeking out live bee removal, be conscious of whether you are contacting a business or a hobbyist. If the beekeeper has a website or business name, they probably charge for bee removal. That said, they are also more likely to be reputable, reliable, experienced and insured. Many hobbyists (experienced and not) are willing to do simple bee removals at no charge, but regardless of who you contact, please be respectful of that person’s time and skill. Don’t assume that they will work for free. Even if a beekeeper has agreed to remove your bees for free, it’s a nice gesture to offer them a few dollars for gas, produce from your garden or some other show of appreciation.