Honey bee removal from chimney – South Wales

Was looking forward to carrying out this honey bee removal, I hadn’t seen any of the photos of where the bees were on the property but had been told by everyone in the office that it was going to be a nice easy job as there was scaffolding in place and that if we needed we could remove the chimney as it was coming down anyway.

The owners had recently purchased the property, and it had been empty for a while. Luckily they wanted to remove the chimney to create more room. On arrival we got straight to it, getting the kit up to chimney level, the scaffolding was not in an ideal position and I could see that I was going to need to work outside of the scaffold for this bee removal.

We scanned the chimney with the thermal imager and saw that the only heat signal we were getting was between the roof slates and the drip line, this showed the bees to be quite a long way into the chimney and a photo down the chimney pot confirmed this. This was a little concerning as we didn’t know how long the bees had been at the property and the comb can extend down a couple of metres or more in these spaces. During the summer months removing comb of this size can be very difficult because of the weight of brood and unprocessed honey contained in the warm often new soft wax comb. We really did not want to be having to knock a hole into the chimney from inside the attic to carry out the bee removal.

You will see that the scaffold platform is somewhat low in comparison to the chimney flaunching, in this instance it was not so important as the chimney stack was going to be removed any way, and we were in the lucky position of being able to take down the stack where needed. So we started by removing the chimney pots and flaunching, then worked our way down the chimney bit by bit. Not as easily as one might expect, this chimney had been put up to last using quality bricks and cement, not at all like todays chimneys. The top part of the bee nest was old bee wax that had been previously used by the bees for at least a season. If you look at the images you will see that the bees had created what can be best described as umbrellas over some of the combs. We don’t see this much, in fact the last time we had seen it was in a bee nest that we had removed from a shrub in a garden at the end of last year.

You will see in the early photos that I was wearing just a Sheriff bee jacket as it was a humid day and the bees seemed to be fairly well behaved. It did not stay that way. The chimney brickwork was solid and I was having to hammer away at it. Eventually one of them decided to sting down at ankle level and moments later both ankles were being hammered. Someone had obviously not explained their options to them properly.
A very fast retreat was made and I swapped to a full length Sheriff bee suit along with wellingtons. Not what I had hoped to be needing but a lot better than being continuously stung. Once past the drip line by a couple of rows of bricks I decided to investigate how much further the comb dropped and was able to remove two lengths of comb, followed by a further 7.
Total height of comb was about 2.2 metres, with not much capped honey but a lot of brood. Chimney space was about 9″ x 9″.
Having got all the comb out without dropping any down the chimney it was just a question of picking up all the remaining bees, this took a bit of time as there was a lot of newly emerged nurse bees; which had been brushed of the comb as I was pulling it out of the chimney. Fortunately this chimney was only dropping to one of the upstairs rooms rather than all the way to the ground floor.

By the time we had left we had removed some of the chimney (the most difficult part), saved some of the brood and eggs and got pretty much all the bees which we then reunited back at the apiary. There was not a lot of capped honey available for the property owner but what was there tasted great and I think he was converted to the joy of real honey.

We don’t normally dismantle the chimney when we remove bees from a chimney, this was an unusual exception as the chimney was being removed anyway. So don’t be thinking this is how we would normally leave your chimney if we were to carry out a bee removal for you.

For further information on bee removal and relocation please use the contact form in the side bar or 

call 02922 401649 to speak to someone local who knows all about it.

If you are looking for more info on removing bees from a chimney check out our article Removing bees in a chimney, for information on bee removal and relocation from roofs you may want to look at our page Honey bees in roof, or if you have bees in a wall our page Honey bees in wall maybe of use, For additional examples on removals of honey bees from other more unusual places check thru our blog page Honey Bee Removal EXPERTS and search for “unusual bee removals”.