Removing honey bee nests from cavities (walls of houses, hollow trees) is a time-consuming, labor-intensive practice that should be undertaken by professionals. Continuous honey bee flight activity to and from a hole in a building is an indication of a nest. Many times, this can be confirmed by listening for bees buzzing inside.
An experienced beekeeper usually can remove bees and combs from easily accessible places like hollow trees, but often bees live in building walls or are tucked away where they are impossible to reach.
Simply killing bees in a cavity with an insecticide can have serious consequences:
There are a number of ways to kill bees. It is important to exterminate a colony when all bees are on the nest (dusk or dawn). This reduces the number that might be in the field and return to cause problems. Many persons use commercially available wasp and hornet spray for killing the bees. This knocks down the insects quickly and can be used from a distance. Dust formulations of labelled persticides may also be pumped onto an enclosed nest. There is more and more evidence that soapy water is also a very good material to use that is inexpensive and relatively environmentally benign. How the bees are killed will depend on the particular situation.
A slower method of honey bee removal which kills fewer of the insects can be used in certain situations. It is based on the principle that bees which leave a building can be prevented from reentering. However, the bees will cluster in a large mass around their previous exit where they are encouraged to enter another colony. Experienced beekeepers do the job best; they are used to bees flying around and to being stung occasionally. The following steps are recommended:
Hive entrance sealer (1/8" hardware cloth cut to size)
About four empty frames, the rest with foundation
Wire and/or string
Buckets with covers for honey comb and scrap comb
Water for drinking and cleanup
Hammer and nails
Aluminum and cutters
Saw (skill + cord, hand, chain + fuel)
Tin foil for sealing holes
Scaffold material for hive suspension
2. Professor Emeritus, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville. Email - View Malcolm Sanford's "A beekeeping blog" here
An excellent how to remove bee nests in structures by Dr. Malcolm Sanford. His article was written before the introduction of African ( termed "killer bees" in the media ) bees here in Florida, so be aware that the defensiveness of feral colonies varies dramatically, and wearing a full bee suit is highly advised if undertaking the live removal. Be aware that the process described is often much more difficult than what may first appear. It's not uncommon to make a dozen visits or so, consuming hours and hours of time. It can be very difficult to coerce the excluded bees into the trap hive.
If you do remove a colony, it's recommended that the colony be requeened with a queen of certified European genetics and to also remove drone brood and adults. One may unwittingly hasten the spread of African bees if proper care is not exercised.
Richard Martyniak, M.Sc. Entomologist