Honey bees

Asked October 23, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT

How do I go about getting rid of a honey bee hive without harming the bees?

Centre County Pennsylvania bees nxo3psuedu

6 Responses

It is not possible to eliminate a hive without killing the bees. The only time you can move a hive is when it is in a structure that can be moved. If the bees have built their comb in a building or tree or other structure the difficulty is removing the bees while keeping the queen alive. Very few people are ever successful at doing this.

I would have to know more about your situation to provide any information about the likelihood that a colony could be removed from a hive. My best guess, based upon the general difficulty of separating a colony from its hive is that it cannot be done.

This is especially true at this time of year as a colony that is removed from its existing hive have no resources for overwintering.

It's a rather large hive, but I don't know anything about them. It's hanging from a branch on a tree outside of my house. Will they die over the winter if not removed?

What you have is probably not a honey bee colony. Honey bees are cavity nesters - except in places like Hawaii where the ambient temperature never gets too cold for the bees to survive without some protection.

It is likely, if the hive looks large, that you have a wasp (possibly a hornet) nest. If so, the colony is an annual colony. All social bees and wasps except honey bees create annual colonies. These colonies die every winter. The only individuals that overwinter are queens (females that are fully mated). The queens start a new colony in the spring.

Don't try to remove the nest until the temperature has been below freezing for at least a month or more. If there are any individuals still alive in the colony they will come out to defend the colony - keep you from moving it. If, as I suspect, the colony is a wasp nest, you will be stung repeatedly. Wasps, unlike honey bees, can sting repeatedly.

As long as you do not disturb the nest, the wasps/hornets will not sting you. The colony will die - as it is suppose to - over winter. Next spring the nest will not be occupied again as the queens that overwinter will create a new nest.

This isn't a very good picture but it is more "accordion-looking" instead of looking like a wasp or hornet nest?

The photo is rather dark but it does look like a honey bee nest. This is rather unusual.

As far as I know a colony cannot survive a Pennsylvania winter if it is exposed as this hive is.

While the likelihood of a colony surviving a move this late in the year is extremely low, you could contact Joe DeLuca (President) or Sylvia Feldman (Secretary of the Centre County Beekeepers at (814) 777-6672 or centrecountybeekeepers@gmail.com to see if anyone might be willing to try to remove the colony. Their web site is http://www.centrecountybees.com/

Thank you!