Review by Geoff MacLean
Last year, I safely removed honey bee colonies from five homes around Greater Portland, but sure wish I’d had the opportunity to read a great book on the subject first!
Let’s take a look at what I believe is the first comprehensive guide to honey bee colony removals, written by Cindy Bee and Bill Owens, masters at the craft of honey bee colony removal: Honey Bee Removal: A Step By Step Guide, hot off the presses in January 2011.
You may remember Cindy Bee from her presentation at the (first) MSBA Annual meeting last spring in Augusta. She and Bill have done a masterful job of compiling all one needs to know about removing honey bee colonies in a short but packed 79 pages of details, checklists and real-life experiences.
The rise of inexperienced suburban beekeepers, mother nature’s eternal desire to have strong colonies swarm (possibly into a neighbor’s house!) and the public’s desire to preserve the honey bee have created the need for beekeepers to also become experienced in honey bee colony removals.
I read this book in an evening and came away with great insight into how I can improve my colony removal techniques. If you read this book, have any skill working with saws and tools, and have some real beekeeping experience, you are already on your way to becoming very capable of removing a honey bee colony safely.
The text walks you through everything— from effectively communicating with your customer to gathering all the tools and equipment you’ll need (including how to make your own very effective bee vacuum). The text then moves into an overview of building construction so that you know what to expect behind siding and sheetrock, or under the roof. Always nice to stay away from the wiring and plumbing!
There are also chapters on how to find the nest in the first place—the specifics of working from inside the structure, from outside the structure, and other special situations like columns, apartments and trees.
How about more detail on how to relocate the removed colony into your own equipment? What to do with the new hives? What to do with all your new wax and honey? What about liability, litigation, and what to charge for your services? It’s all here.
The great photos, lists, and years of real-life lessons shared are invaluable. The plans for Cindy’s bee vacuum alone make this book a bargain.
If we are going to keep bees around our neighbors and Mother Nature is going to inspire them to swarm, we must become capable as a beekeeping community of removing them safely from structures in our neighborhoods. All this so that we may maintain the public’s confidence that we are capable of safely managing bee colonies and the swarms they throw off.
I not only strongly recommend reading this book yourself, but also welcome your referrals for honey bee colony removals.
Geoff can be contacted through redbrookhoney.com
Editor’s Note: Honey Bee Removal will be available on the web soon (beeculture.com/store). Until then, you can purchase the book by mailing a check for $19.95 to:
Bee Culture A. I. Root
PO Box 706
Medina, Ohio 44258
[Questions? Call 800.289.7668, x3220]
Include a note to Dawn indicating the name of the book, as well as your mailing address.