Swarms vs Hives
What is a Swarm?
Swarms are groups of bees you see flying in a mass together. Eventually they land and “ball up” around the Queen to protect her; this usually occurs on a tree, but sometimes on a wall, on your home, in the yard, even on patio furniture or play equipment. They are simply resting while scouts are out evaluating the surrounding area for a new home.
These bees do not have a hive to protect, so they are generally not a threat to you. They eventually will move on their own, in one to two days. We don’t want to kill them in these situations. Patience is the best course of action, and the bees will usually leave on their own.
What is a Hive?
Hives form when a swarm moves into a void of your home, property walls, hardscapes, or under sheds, to name a few. They release pheromones to associate this spot as the “hive” and this can be very dangerous. If not eliminated soon after their arrival, they will create honeycomb and brood. The bees start filling the honeycomb with honey and “fan” the honey to prevent it from melting. It is not uncommon to find 5-10 pounds of honey in just a few days, and over a hundred pounds in a few short months.
You DO NOT want to eliminate these bees without a plan to deal with the honey that will inevitably melt, draining down from wherever the hive may be. The melting honey, dead bees, and brood will attract vermin and other insects, not to mention create mildew on the building materials inside the voids of
It may be considered “expensive” to deal with this problem, but that cost pales in comparison to the size and complexity of the problem if left unattended.
It is for this reason Gecko Pest Management recommends a complete bee removal protocol to eliminate the bees AND the hive.
Here are the steps in which Gecko Pest Management’s Complete Bee Removal Protocol take place:
1. Eliminate the bees
2. Create access to the hive
3. Remove the honey, brood, and dead bees
4. Clean, sanitize, and pre-treat the area against future bee intrusion
5. Put the access site back to “paint ready” condition
THE GLOBALLY DECLINING HONEYBEE POPULATION
As you may have heard in recent years, the population of honeybees around the world have been declining. A number of different reasons have led to this: climate change, bacteria in the gut of the larvae, mites, virus, habitat loss, and (by popular belief) pesticides. We’d like to take the time to cover a couple facts that aren’t often explained or discussed.
It is a known fact that now, in the present day and age, all honeybees encountered in Arizona are considered at least partially Africanized. The reason for this is the aggressive invasive nature of the Africanized bees. They invade European honeybee colonies, find and kill the queen. They establish their own queen and start breeding three times as much. For this reason, they have decimated all European honeybee colonies in the wild Sonoran desert. Beekeepers have been dealing with this issue by killing an Africanized once they see their colony has been taken over, then replace the deceased Africanized queen with a European bee queen, About 1 to 2 months later, the colony calms down again and re-establishes itself.
These beekeepers not only make money from honey production but more so from leasing the colonies out to pollinate crops in Arizona and other parts of the country. An Africanized colony is not ideal for this, as they have a tendency to just leave a hive to establish a new nest site (making them hard to keep). They also don’t do well in cooler climates, as they can not go very long without foraging. Even though the news reports claim honeybee populations are declining, Arizona is still one of the major exporters of bees for pollination. Arizona is also home to the highest diversity of native bees in the country (we have 1,300 species, and honeybees make up only a small number of that count).
Additionally, Africanized bees are not native to the Americas: they were brought here after an experiment gone wrong. Our natural ecosystem in southern Arizona does not depend on them, but instead our natural native pollinators find themselves in competition with Africanized bees. The same rings true for the European honeybee, brought to the Americas in the 1600s.
Lastly, when many discuss pesticides impacting bee populations, they are referring to Neonicotinoids and Phenylpyrazoles; more distinctly, the broad agricultural use of them, not structural use. These chemicals are used in Southern Arizona by structural pest control companies but mainly as termiticides. These are usually buried in the ground or injected under a concrete slab, not in areas frequented or populated by bees. Regardless, the structural pest control industry has also been concerned with the honeybee populations so for the past decade – responsible companies have been adopting policies to help control wind drift and water runoff during and after applications. Also, in the last few years, policies written specifically to protect pollinators have been implemented, such as not spraying flowering plants, even when spraying chemicals not even loosely linked to Colony Collapse Disorder.
At Gecko Pest Management, our bee removal methods and materials used to eliminate these invasive Africanized bees does not have adverse effects on the local, native ecosystem.