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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Permanent Bee Swarms Probably Need Disposal in Las Vegas

Q. My brother and I live in California.  We inherited my mom's home in LV which is now rented. The property manager tells us there are bees in the backyard and that we should have an exterminator in. We are both opposed to this plan because of colony collapse, etc. Do you know of a beekeeper who would take them?  They say there is honey; it is not a swarm.

A. I do not know of a beekeeper that will take them. Beekeepers are very careful about “wild” bees they take into their hives. Many of them have become “Africanized” and they do not want these Africanized bees introduced to their managed hives. 

Honeybees swarming from the hives at the UNCE Orchard in North Las Vegas. The top picture they have swarmed around some fruit trees. The bottom picture they settled in on one branch of one tree. They eventually returned to their hive about 50 feet away later in the day.
Secondly, they are worried about diseases and other pest problems introduced to their bees which they spend a lot of money to protect from these types of pests. So by admitting “wild” bees into their hives they run a very big risk of having future problems that will cost them money and time to correct. Beekeepers do not make much money off of producing honey so the costs associated with management is very important to them.

Once bees have become Africanized they will be a very real threat to humans and any other animals (dogs, cats, horses, etc) nearby since they are so aggressive. You can Google Africanized bees or "killer bees" and Las Vegas and you can see what kind of problems we have had with them in the past.

I think you may have a problem if these bees are not in some way disposed of if they are in fact Africanized or become Africanized. One of the reason Italian honeybees were selected for commercial honeymaking is that they are very docile insects. They can be handled with a huge degree of safety. When a colony starts becoming Africanized, the bees will first start getting more aggressive than before (bump you if you are within 40 or 50 feet of their colony). If this perceived “threat” to their hive (YOU) does not go away, then they can get very aggressive and attack in huge numbers. In many cases they attack with no provocation and has led to death or hospitalization. Commercial beekeepers must "requeen" a hive periodically because bee hives WILL become Africanized over time.

Simple things disturb Africanized bees like it could be windy outside, machinery operating close by, etc, could set them off. They are unpredictable and very aggressive unlike docile Italian honeybees which they eventually take over after a period of a few months.

I would highly recommend you get a company to dispose of the colony and not take any chances.


  1. What are you nuts?!!!!

    There are almost always several beekeepers in a major metropolitan area who will be more than happy to remove bee hives intact. Often for free.

    Jose Torres
    Torres Honey Bees
    Save the honey bees!
    (702) 834-5333
    8487 Cerritos Ct
    Las Vegas, NV 89178

    They grab the workers and re-queen the hive with a numbered European Queen. It is possible that a wild hive can transmit disease. But not likely.

  2. Welcome to the debate. Wild bees have little monetary value to beekeepers. Beekeepers buy hybrid queens and bees that have been bred for high honey production, gentleness, resistance to disease and mites and no tendency to swarm. Wild bees' qualities are a big unknown and commercial beekeepers don't want to invest their time with them. The amount of time spent removing a swarm and installing it in a hive box, could be used to make fifty or more splits of colonies with known pedigrees. So, catching swarms is a poor use of time to beekeepers interested in making money. I guess if you were a hobbyist intent on saving the environment then it is worth your time.

  3. I agree with Jose I do live honey bee rescue here in Las Vegas NV
    You have been mislead by the media hype on the ferral bees
    they can bee cought and requeened and become a productive hive.

    Larry Shreffler (live hiney bee rescue)
    (702) 533-8437
    4931 Breezy Day Dr.
    North Las Vegas NV 89031

  4. Thanks for your comments. I am happy there are some people who are still willing to actually make use of captured bees. This is interesting since there are so few licensed beekeepers in the Las Vegas area. Beekeeping is illegal within the city limits of Las Vegas but is legal in unincorporated parts of Clark County. For those interested in rescuing bees please be careful of whom you hire. Ask some specific questions regarding bee removal. Are they spraying the bees before they are removed? Are they using a vacuum to remove the bees? Live removal is one thing but giving these bees a new home is another. Find out where they plan to put these bees after they have been removed. Make sure there is somewhere they will be taken or will they simply be destroyed after removal.

    Here is a video on live bee capture and removal.

    1. Illegal! Sweet!!!! That makes the honey taste twice as good.

  5. Here is a video of a honeybee cut out by JP the beeman.
    Shows how a cut out is done and how the comb is put into frames and bees are vacumed into a bee box

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  7. There is a big controversy on the internet over bee removal. Bee removal can mean "live" bee removal where, in some cases, the bees are sprayed with a chemical (usually a pesticide) and removed. The bees are removed dead or alive but where they die later on due to the chemicals. Discussions may center on who "owns" the comb and honey. if the bees are sprayed then the honey and comb should be discarded (there are questions whether that happens or not). There are questions about how live removal is done. If the bees are removed live only to be destroyed later when no "home" for them can be found. There are beekeepers who do live removal but the same situation occurs. Is it done with the intent of relocating the bees are is it done just for another revenue stream with no regard for the bees, just basically extermination. Then there is the removal process itself and the use of vacuums and how much damage these devices do to bees.

    To learn more about these discussions, here are some sites I put together.

    Learn about bee removal from a non commercial site

    Blog about live bee capture

    Discussion by people keeping bees on capturing a hive

    Discussion on what defines the "right" way to capture bees

    If you take the time to read through these and other discussions you will see that there are many different ways to "skin the cat". If we were honest about it, very, very few companies are actually doing bee removal "humanely" but piggy-backing on the idea of "saving the planet".

  8. Posted for Harlan Sager by Extremehort:
    If the bees in your picture returned to the hive it was because they did not have a living queen with them.

    As a long time beekeeper in Idaho and SE Oregon, I would be willing to help others if they have hives, manage their bees so they minimize swarming. If interested, put lvbees in subject and email me.

    Would also like to get some good comb honey.

    We do travel several months each year so are not always readily available but I am willing to help when we are home