Typically bees hanging from objects are honey bees. Honey bees can also find houses, buildings, and other sites ideal. The flying swarm temporarily clusters on an object, such as a tree branch, while scout bees search for a permanent nest site. A hanging swarm may assume any shape, depending on the surface on which it is clustered. Most hanging swarms are round or oval, about the size of a volleyball. Swarms are relatively gentle, and the risk of stings is low. Nevertheless, treat swarms with caution. A swarm usually relocates to a permanent nest, such as a hollow tree or a wall, within 24 hours.
What to do if you encounter a swarm
Please download our Honey Bee Swarm Guide on this page for more information what to do if you encounter a swarm of honey bees. You can also read more about swarms in my article Understanding Honey Bee Swarms in the Daily Press.
If you are in the Hampton Roads or Richmond area of Virginia and need us to remove a swarm of honey bees – please call us at 757.745.9081. We love to capture swarms for folks and look forward to your call! We do not charge to remove swarms.
Remember we remove honey bee swarms in Williamsburg, James City County, York County, Newport News, Hampton, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk!
Back Forty Bees is unique in our use of thermal imaging to precisely locate the bees.
We are highly skilled and experienced at removing honey bees from homes and other structures! Bees located inside a building (homes, businesses, sheds, etc) may be removed by two methods, referred by beekeepers as a “Cutout” and “Trapout”. Both of these methods are labor intensive and Back Forty Bees charges a flat rate to begin the work (up to three hours) and then an hourly labor rate thereafter.
A cutout is exactly as it sounds, the beekeeper opens up the structure and then physically removing the bees, comb (beeswax), brood, and honey located in the structure. A well-established colony may have up to 100 pounds of honey, many pounds of adult and developing bees, and many beeswax combs.
The first step in removal is to determine the exact location of the hive and size of the colony. Back Forty Bees is different than other beekeepers who remove bees - we locate the colony using thermal imaging (see photo). This allows us to exactly pinpoint where the bees are, helping mitigate damage to a structure. We also utilize traditional methods, such as locating bee entrances and tapping walls while listening for the hum of the colony (usually using a stethoscope)
Once located it is necessary to open a fairly large hole in the structure (either interior or exterior). In the photo at the top, the ceiling has been opened up and the bees exposed. Once we have located the bees they are physically removed and placed into a new hive that we take away upon completion of the work to a new home. To assist with removal we also utilize a special bee vac, which we connect to a new hive to take the bees away.
When exterior stucco, brick, or cement walls make normal removal impossible, especially if interior wall accessibility is not an option a trapout must be performed. Trapping bees out of the wall with a “one-way bee escape removal” will take about 2-3 months. Even with this careful setup and monitoring it is not always successful. The comb will remain in the wall and will attract another swarm in the future unless preventive measures are taken to close all entrances to the remaining material. In a trapout a wire mesh cone (18 inches long with ⅜-inch opening at the apex) is placed over the hive entrance hole. A hive containing a queen and a few workers OR a hive with brood is placed near the end of the cone. The bees can leave the building, but they cannot get back in and will settle in the decoy hive. This method is very labor intensive!