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How NOT to remove bees (how to get hurt doing it)

Set the bees on fire!

Almost every day in summer we get a phone call that goes something like this:

BT: Bee Team, good morning.

Caller: Hi, my gardener is in hospital and we need some bees removed urgently.

BT: Sorry to hear about your gardener, what happened?

Caller: Happy got stung when he mowed the lawn near a hive, so he decided to get rid of them. He got some petrol out the lawnmower and set the hive on fire. The bees then attacked him and now he has hundreds of bee stings, fortunately he jumped in the pool. The doctor told us that we got him to hospital just in time as his airway was closing.

BT: Yes, bees don't like being set on fire, they tend to lose their sense of humour. We can remove them now if that is convenient for you?

Other than the fact that setting the bees on fire does little other than make them really REALLY mad, it is just unethical to set any animal on fire. So, setting bees on fire does not work. Please do not try it at home, we have seen the remnants of burnt hives enough times to know with absolute certainty that it does not work. Whenever we see a burnt hive, there is never a happy gardener around... Strange that.

Spray the bees with lots of Doom (bug spray)

Bug spray is designed to kill a few bugs flying around. A healthy hive has upward of 50 000 bees. Think about that, if you can kill 10 bugs with a single spray of doom, you will need 5000 sprays to kill a hive. It is a lot more ethical and cheaper to call in a bee remover to remove your bee hive. Well, it is cheaper to get a bee remover unless you have an unlimited supply of insect killer.

Moth Balls (napthalene)

Our seniors are particularly keen on using moth balls on bees. We admit that bees don't particularly like moth balls but they are definitely not affected by them. Moth balls are a pretty simple way to stop bees from moving into a cavity but they are hopelessly inadequate at getting bees out of once they have moved in. We know because we have tried (it would have made our job a lot easier). It also makes the honey that we collect from a hive unusable, and we really don't like putting honey in the garbage bin.

The Bear Grylls way

He thought that bee stings were laughable... see what only one bee sting will do. Keep in mind that if Bear Grylls had tried to steal honey from South African bees (apis mellifera scutellata) he probably would have been killed!

In fact the removal of bees by anyone who is not an experienced professional is dangerous and foolish. You are probably removing the bees because you don't want to get stung. If you are not 100% sure of what you are doing and do not have the right protective gear, you will probably get stung. More than once!!!

Remember, bees in South Africa are really, really dangerous.
What we call bees in South Africa, the Americans call African Killer Bees. Bees can kill.

Updated 22 January 2014