In early March Philip responded to a request from a family that had a colony of bees that had taken up residence in the exterior wall of their home. The bees were making their way into the residence through an abandoned cable access point. The homeowner, Rebecca Rosin, was looking for a beekeeper who extracts the bees. Philip and I went over to access the situation to see if we could help.
We easily found the opening the bees were using to enter the block wall. Just based on the number of active bees we felt like they were a pretty substantial colony in the wall. Thankfully, Rebecca knew the value of honeybees in regards to their impact on agriculture and was willing to give us some time as we attempted to lure the bees out of their home. We set up a pro nuc box close to the opening in the block wall. The bees were provided with honeycomb, sugar water, pollen, and lure to make the nuc as alluring as possible. Philip agreed to keep in contact with Rebecca to see what happened.
Bees locate Nuc
Within just a few days, Rebecca let us know that the bees were entering the nuc, but she felt like they were just stealing the resources. The bees were still residing in the wall of their home. The bees locating the Nuc is still an important first step that allows the beekeeper who extracts the bees naturally.
Lockout Screen Installed
During the week, Philip had been researching solutions on how to allow the bees to leave the wall, but prevent them from going back in. He built a triangular lockout screen to cover the opening. Bees are extremely oriented to their location. Young bees do orientation flights that orient them to their hive. Moving a beehive even just a short distance can completely disorient bees and they are unable to return to the hive. The lockout screen takes advantage of this bee attribute. The bees could easily find their way out of the wall, but since they are oriented to enter through the hole directly, changing the orientation of the opening was enough to prevent the bees from reentering the wall.
With the new lockout screen in place, the bees began to congregate on the outside of the wall, close to the nuc, but still were not moving into the nuc. We opted to keep giving the process time and see what the bees would do. Ideally, we should have turned the lockout screen on a regular basis, but since we don’t live close by that wasn’t an option. Unfortunately, Rebecca contacted us and let us know that the bees had learned how to enter the wall again. Due to the length of time, the bees reoriented to the openings in the lockout screen and were able to navigate the maze both in and out of the wall.
Eviction Day for the Colony
This time we returned to the Rosin home, we decided it was time to evict the bees from the wall in a more aggressive manner. Philip purchased a product called Honey-Be-Gone. This uses a combination of essential oils to repel the bees. It is made of all-natural products that don’t harm the bees or disorient them, but naturally repels them from the area. We sprayed the spray into the wall and saturated a cotton swab and pushed it through the opening.
The bees quickly began to pour out of the opening. The saturated cotton swab also allowed the repellant to remain inside the wall longer to repel the bees for a longer amount of time. We left the nuc fully stocked full of honeycomb, sugar water, pollen and lure, offering the bees an alternate location to reside.
The nuc that we provided did not prevent the bees from naturally foraging. Some traps funnel the bees directly into the trap, but our method required that the bees move into the nuc voluntarily. The lockout screen was still in place, slightly turned to disorient the bees again. They had been using the nuc resources for several weeks and were fully aware of the lovely apartment available right next door. Thankfully Rebecca was still on board to see what would happen and we waited to see what the bees would do following their eviction.
Staying One Step Ahead, Alternate Plan
In the meantime, Philip made another plan on how we would remove the bees from the Rosin home as our final attempt. Philip constructed an attachment for a small shop vac to extract the bees. It was a beehive that would allow us to suction the bees out of the wall directly into the box. It included a screen that would prevent the bees from getting sucked into the storage container of the shop vac. He included a plexiglass window that would allow us to see the progress of the vacuum.
It didn’t take long and we got amazing news from Rebecca, the bees were now finally using the nuc as their residence. She was no longer seeing any activity from the hole in the wall and they had not determined how to reenter the lockout screen. Philip and I decided it was time to bring the feral beehive home. Rebecca’s report and video had us so confident, we didn’t even bring Philip’s bee vacuum!
Beekeeper Extracts Bees Successfully
When we arrived shortly before sunset, the plan was to disturb the nuc as little as possible. Philip closed the access points of the nuc and inside we could hear the encouraging hum of bees. There were a few stray bees that were following us. Philip put the nuc on the ground and he decided to open the access point to allow those last few bees to enter the nuc. We were so encouraged to see the bees follow us, we were certain the queen must be in the nuc as well.
We made one final attempt to extract any lingering bees in the wall of the Rosin home. Rebecca’s husband prepared a water bottle for us. He drilled air holes in the bottle. We saturated one more cotton swab with Honey-Be-Gone and pushed it through the opening of the wall. We covered the opening with the prepared water bottle, so that we had a way to capture any bees that would escape the wall. It was rather uneventful, not a single bee tried to escape the wall of their home. Mission accomplished!
Video Collection of the Three Week Bee Extraction
The timing of the hive recovery was perfect, as our annual apiary inspection was the following day. Philip decided to leave the nuc sealed to allow the agriculture inspector to inspect our feral colony.
The agriculture inspector estimated the numbers at between 1000 to 2000 bees, which she called a small colony. She and Philip thoroughly inspected the hive, the bees look healthy, however, they were not able to find the queen. She was impressed with Philip’s bee vacuum, even though we never got to use it.
Our Sincere Appreciation to the Rosin Family
Philip and I are so appreciative of the Rosin family. Having an active bee colony in the wall of your home is unsettling, especially since they discovered the colony when the bees made their way into their bedroom! Thankfully, the family was willing to allow the process the time needed to naturally remove the bees from their home.
Rebecca has been a wonderful communicator throughout the process. She frequently sent us videos and kept us up to date with what the bees were doing. This was extremely helpful as we live about 40 minutes from their home. Rebecca reported after we left, she has only seen approximately 30 lingering bees that were not captured in the nuc. They have temporarily covered the hole in the wall until they can permanently seal the hole. We are so pleased that within three short weeks we were successfully able to capture the entire colony!
Join us as the Agriculture Inspector Opens the Nuc
Bees are amazing! Philip and I are both learning so much about the fascinating behaviors of bees.
What do you find most interesting about bees? They are the most important insect on earth!
Want an exclusive peek in the feral hive? Join the agricultural inspection here https://kowalskimountain.com/peek-inside-the-extracted-bee-colony-with-the-apiary-inspector/
Interested in Honey-Bee-Gone? I am not an Amazon Affiliate at the time of the release of this post, We do not receive any commission on the sale of this product.
About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.