How to remove honey bees in walls
Having honey bees in walls can seem like an impossible situation to remedy, especially when you go looking on the internet and see people knocking or cutting out huge holes in a wall to get access to the honey bee nest hidden behind the wall.
There are 3 possible methods for the removal of bees from within a wall cavity. The most usual is to carry out what’s generally referred to as a cut-out, more unusually a trap-out may be used to remove the bees only, and even less often an exclusion. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and we will discuss the pros & cons of each method.
There are 3 possible methods for the removal of bees from within a wall cavity. The most usual is to carry out what’s generally referred to as a honey bee cut-out, more unusually a honey bee trap-out may be used to remove the bees only, and even less often a honey bee exclusion.
Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
No need to knock or cut a huge hole into the wall
Most importantly here at SwarmCatcher we specialise in removing and relocating honey bees from within walls and take great pride in removing the bee nest by removing as few a bricks as possible.
We see it as being akin to keyhole surgery, so rather than remove a 100 bricks we may remove 7 bricks in key positions to allow for the same result (the removal of the bees, the comb and any honey stores) but with less damage to the wall for both the long-term and the short-term.
In situations where there are honey bees in walls we will use one of the techniques mentioned above for their removal & relocation.Which method will likely depend upon the type of wall the honey bees are in, how long the honey bees have been in the wall, and the accessibility of the bee entrance and the nesting area.
Each of these factors influences both the total cost of the honey bee removal from the wall and the best method by which to do it.
Once the honey bees are in the wall there is not much you can do about the overall costs unless you can act quickly, by reducing the amount of time they are present. Unfortunately the longer they bees have been in the wall the more difficult and costlier it becomes.
The other main factor is the type of wall cavity the bees have occupied; we remove bees from all sorts of walls, sometimes doing it from within the building, other times from outside of the building.
Whatever honey bee removal method we use, we never use any toxic pesticides in the process of removing the bees from walls, although we do have it as a backup in our RAMS in case a bee removal was to get out of hand.
How long have the honey bees been in the wall?
If the bees have only recently turned up to occupy your wall cavity then they can often be pushed out. Ideally this should be done as quickly as possible. The longer they are in situ the more difficult it becomes to get rid of them. So as time goes by and the longer the bees remain in situ the more expensive it becomes to remove the bees.
Often you can get an indication of how long the honey bees have been in a wall from the level of staining around the entrance hole.
At this point whatever you do,
Ideally as soon as you have honey bees in walls, or have the honey bees show interest in occupying a space you want to look at persuading them to move on.
Initially a few scout bees will turn-up and show interest, these scout bees will head back to the bee swarm and do a little dance telling the other bees all about the great new opportunity. They will then return with more and more scout bees until eventually a quorum of scout bees is formed, all calling for that to be the new nesting site, leading to the whole swarm uplifting and arriving at their new home to be.
Do not block the entrance once the swarm has arrived – it’s too late and will cause you more problems.
Time is of an essence here – look at our page Urgent Swarm Eviction if the bees have very recently found their way into a wall.
Honey bee exclusion from wall cavities
For honey bees that are more difficult to move and that have been in a wall for anything up to 3 weeks it may be possible to carry out a form of honeybee exclusion. This is something that you can find a little more about on our page Honey Bee Exclusion
Honey bee trap-out from a wall
Honey bee trap-outs are something that we did quite a lot of in our early days. It appeared to be the least intrusive or destructive method for removing honey bees in walls. BUT as time went by we started to realise that they were not in fact as good as we had initially believed.
More on honey bee trap-outs can be found at our page Honey bee trap-outs.
These days we use them on a very limited basis as it is time consuming and consequently pricey, but most importantly we have proven that it does not do everything it says, often leaving large stores of honey in situ which is very bad news for the long-term.
The best method for removing honey bees from a wall cavity
Undoubtedly the honey bee cut-out.
If you have honey bees in walls this method is not as intrusive as it sounds.
It does not mean violently dismantling a complete section of wall to access the honey bees as often shown on the internet.
Rather a few bricks can be carefully removed, to allow full access to all the bees, the comb and the honey so allowing for the honey bee colony to be successfully rehomed in an apiary.
When you get honey bees in walls or chimney be warry of any business suggesting that whole sections of wall or chimney need to be removed when carrying out a cut-out, they really don’t and further more shouldn’t be.
A honeybee cut-out may be carried out from within the property or from the outside of the property dependent upon circumstances and accessibility, if the removal can be managed successfully this usually offers a good saving dependent upon access costs if done externally.
The honey bee cut-out method offers a fairly immediate solution for the removal of bees in walls and is usually completed within the day, reinstatement may well go into a second day though.
What types of walls do honey bees nest in?
Absolutely all types that have some form of cavity in them.
We have come across all sorts of honeybee nests in all sorts of walls.
We have been to brick cavity walls with bees in, honey bee nests behind fascia’s, honey bees entering airbricks, honey bees behind hanging clay tiles, you name it we have seen it.
More often than not honey bees find their way into a wall cavity where the mortar joints have broken down, or where an air brick or weep hole is not bee proofed adequately, or where an old bolt or pipe used to fill a hole but has since been removed.
We have cut-out honey bee nests out from behind walls in top floor flats, from within the space beneath a window frame, and removed honeybee nests from behind block cavity walls with structural facades. We have removed honeybee nests from the space made between old windows and protective security coverings. We have taken out honey bee nests from within soil pipe boxing of bathrooms, ventilation piping boxing, from behind wooden facades, even from behind the lead sheeting of a dome roof.
Often we remove and relocate bees that have been entering an airbrick just below the eaves of a property, or possibly thru a gap in a soffit board. More often than not these bees will be building the honeycomb for their honeybee nest downwards from the top, suspending the wax honeycomb from the rafters into the wall cavity for anything up to a metres or more. On occasion some of this honeycomb can be seen from the inside of the roof but usually not.
Honey bees in walls removal – inside or out
Whether we remove these honey bee colonies from inside or out will depend upon practicality, normally we need to be able to access the external entrance point.
Often it can be easier to get to the bees from within the property and easier to carry out any renovations required if they are internal especially on heritage & listed properties in sensitive areas.
Honey bees in walls – how and why do they get there
Bees need to be able to find an access point to get into the wall cavity, they then also need to find a space within that cavity that they consider appropriate for them to build a bees nest in. I explain this in quite a lot of detail in ‘Why honey bees like chimneys‘ and despite its title its a fairly appropriate read about bees in walls as well.
We will often find bees entering air bricks just below the gutter line or soffit, in these instances they are usually just below some framework providing them top support. On other occasions they have utilised holes that pipework long since removed would have run through, or the hole for pipework is too large for the pipes running thru so providing ample space for bees or wasps to enter. Regularly we go to removals of bees in walls where new soffits have been fitted but they haven’t been sealed to the wall properly so allowing the bees up and into either the wall cavity or the soffits. We have also seen them in relatively new builds finding their way thru gaps left for drainage (and not proofed), again between soffits and brickwork, and more often now between the brickwork and fascia board. In commercial buildings we find them entering thru old (not plugged) holes used to mount equipment such as lights and cameras, or finding their way under badly sealed flashing/capping on parapets.
Bees in walls – additional information
We can’t emphasise enough the importance of getting bees that have recently occupied a wall cavity out ASAP. If you have just had bees turn up that have physically entered your building look at our page Urgent Swarm Eviction and get in touch ASAP – don’t wait for anything.
Forget about your friendly beekeepers requirements to collect them the most important thing is to move them out ASAP, preferably within the first couple of days.
We would advise against killing a recently arrived swarm for three reasons:
NB: It is not illegal to kill honey bees – there are actions that you are legally required to do should you poison a honey bee nest, that if you don’t follow may lead to a heavy fine but these are to do with the pesticide label.
Our honey bee relocation Specialist is waiting for you!
Swarmcatcher are the UK honey bee colony removal specialists that provide an ethical eco-friendly bee removal and relocation service across the UK.
For further information on bee removal and relocation please use the contact form in the side bar or message button below, or CALL 01297 441272 to speak to someone local who knows all about it.
If you are looking for information on removing bees from a chimney check out our article ‘Honey bees in chimney‘, or if you repeatedly have bee swarms take up home in your chimney you may want to look at our page ‘Why honey bees like chimneys‘ & ‘Everything you need to consider when removing bees in a chimney‘ which is a fairly extensive overview.
For examples on removals of honey bees from these and other more unusual places check thru our blog page Honey Bee Removal Blog and investigate our Tag cloud too.
Don’t forget a general overview on honey bee removals which can be found at ‘Live honey bee removal‘.