Although some beekeepers will happily take out a colony of bees free of charge, there are many who still expect payment for live bee removals. This begets the question of why there are such contradictory ideas on whether or not beekeepers should charge for this service. The reasons behind this inconsistency among beekeepers can be summarised by a few misconceptions and the various factors stemming from the hidden and relatively unknown payments involved in rescuing bees.
Misunderstandings of Live Bee Removals
To start off, the most basic misconception of live bee removals is the assumption that the job will definitely be easily accomplished. This is untrue as it is extremely difficult to predict the worth of removing the bees immediately as the whole process can range from being fuss-free to taking a few hours.
Bee removals are typically split into two sections: swarm removal and removal for established colonies. The bees that have just arrived would most likely be a group of bees (swarm) that don’t have a comb. In the event that the bee swarm is easily accessed, then the removal process would be efficient and simple. A large majority of beekeepers are apt in removing a swarm and it is also relatively common for them to get rid of swarms with no charges incurred.
If the bees were lingering in the exact location for a period of seven days or more, they would most likely be established and the longer they linger, the more amount of comb they would have built; which makes for a bigger colony. These types of removals definitely require skills and knowledge, particularly if you find that the bees have settled themselves in the structure. This type of removal brings forth greater risk of stings and can be a hassle, time consuming and exhausting. It is no surprise why most beekeepers would be unwilling to do this kind of removal service free of charge.
Determining the worth of an unmanaged colony involves more factors than expected. Some beekeepers will attempt to gauge the worth depending on the usual value of brand new colonies, which is usually between $125 to $250 if it is a brand new colony of bees sans the equipment. However, these bees are expected to have a queen, assured to be in impeccable health and have been grown to portray desirable traits such as docility and honey production. Unmanaged rescue colonies do not promise any of the above factors mentioned. Bees may even be bad-tempered, a gene that will only be shown when it becomes an established colony, queenless, and/or not healthy. Seeking to get these problems resolved costs more cash and is more time-consuming. In worse cases, the rescued colony could even spread diseases to the other hives that the beekeeper owns. However, to tell the difference between a wild colony that will yield unique genes that will be priceless in the eyes of the beekeeper, and one that will yield problems, requires a period of time.
Although a small factor, there are also people who expect a honey harvest from the removal. Despite so, bee colonies usually need to mature for a full year before honey can be harvested and even if the colony removed is mature enough, the amount of honey stored depends strongly on the time of the year, as well as the bees’ health.
Unknown Fees of Removing Bees
Moving onto the unseen costs of removing bees, there are factors such as equipment, time, skills, health, and safety, among others.
Equipment and Space
Equipment plays a big part in the expenses needed to store the bees once they are removed. A fundamental setup will already set the beekeeper back by a minimum of $150 for each new colony, sometimes even more. Moreover, each new colony will take up space in the beekeeper’s apiary, and it will be inconvenient if there is limited space where only a limited number of bees can be housed. Some beekeepers may even be renting or paying honey for access to the land.
The more complicated the process of removing the bees, the more amount of time it will take. Moreover, large, messy and sticky removals usually end up taking additional time to disinfect.
Based on the amount of time that beekeepers have spent on their craft, most of them take about two years to truly get a good grasp of it. Although most would be skilled in dealing with easy swarm removals, it can be seen as an entirely different skill set that can take many years to achieve perfection.
Health & Safety
Bee removals are definitely not accident-proof, as removals often include heights and power tools, as well as stinging insects. The whole process can definitely pose a risk to the beekeeper’s safety. This is usually the case with Africanized bees, where they will not only sting the beekeeper but even other bystanders as well. Additionally, the act of intruding into matured structures to take the bees out could put the beekeeper in danger of harmful materials such as lead paint.
Ongoing Care and Insurance Expenses for Businesses
Caring for a new colony requires the beekeeper to be responsible for its entire life. Besides time, ongoing expenses such as acquiring a new queen bee, medicine and/or feed will occur. In the event that the beekeeper is part of a business set up, they will also incur extra costs like liability insurance and advertising.
To ensure that live bee removals, be it the interaction or the removal process, goes as smoothly as possible, the type of beekeeper – business or hobbyist – is an important factor to seriously consider. This is as the beekeeper would most likely charge for the removal if they have a business name or a website. However, they are also the ones who are more reputable, have more experience and time dedicated to the craft and are most importantly, insured. Plenty of hobbyists (even inexperienced ones) are keen to do easy bee removals with no charges incurred. Regardless of whoever is contacted, the beekeepers’ time and skill should be respected and not ignored in favor of the outcome or desires from the person who requests for the removal. Regardless of whether a beekeeper is willing to do the removal for free, it is always nice to give them a token of appreciation in the form of some cash for their time and effort; to show them some appreciation as it is not an easy task with no risks involved.