5 Methods that can Help You Remove Honey Bees without Killing Them

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First of all, we’d like to commend you for looking for humane ways to get rid of honey bees. Since these important insects are disappearing fast, it’s only logical to take careful steps to preserve them and at the same time, keep them out of human dwellings.

This short guide will teach you how to remove honey bees without killing them. While there will be bee casualties in the methods we’ve listed below, the hives that you’ll apply them on will survive and move on to a better nesting site – one that’s hopefully not occupied by humans.

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Identify the bee first

Before you do anything else, you have to know about the bee you’re up against. Are they really honey bees? Or something different like bumblebees or carpenter bees?

Learning the type of bee is just as important as knowing how to get rid of it. Carpenter bees and bumblebees, for example, are different from honey bees. They’re solitary. The biggest population you can get from them typically don’t go beyond fifty or a hundred. So dealing with them like how you usually deal with thousands of honey bees may be a bit of an overkill.

To know the physical characteristics and behavior of each common bee type, jump to our comprehensive guide here.

Do it after dark

When researching how to remove honey bees without killing them, majority of the advice that you usually get online have something to do with nights or evenings.

We’ll tell you right now that they’re not wrong.

More than 90% of the honey bee’s population are workers, and many of them are foragers. Foragers fly away early in the morning to collect nectar and pollen for the colony. They then stay in the hive early in the evening to rest. Since their work takes a huge toll on tiny their bodies, they’re the biggest sleepers in the colony. Other worker bees like nurses, guards and builders take turns doing micro sleeps (taking naps for a couple of seconds) while foragers sleep for hours to gather enough energy to fly again tomorrow.

Foragers take up a significant amount of the worker bee’s forces. Them, sleeping at night means less active and energetic bees to deal with when you’re trying to get rid of their hive.

In addition, bees aren’t generally known to fly around the dark. The exact reason for that isn’t very clear yet, but you can definitely take advantage of this. Just remember that this “sleeping pattern” does change depending on food availability. So if there aren’t a lot of flowers around, the foragers’ nap time can dramatically shift to another schedule.

Wear the right gear

Obviously, you can’t handle bees without wearing the proper gear. If you have to go near their hive, consider buying the things listed below. They may be honey bees, but they can still sting and cause major irritations later on.

All the methods we’ve included in this post need you to wear this gear:

  • Leather gloves. Never substitute this for regular garden gloves. They’re not thick enough! Get something made from leather or any material that’s able to stop the stingers from penetrating through it.
  • A beekeeper’s veil and a beekeeper’s suit. You can get them here. Also, don’t wear any scent when you’re going to handle bees. Anything aromatic can affect how bees behave, sometimes turning them more aggressive.

How to Remove Honey Bees without Killing Them

A hive removal process without killing the colony will be tough, but it’s the most conscientious choice, considering that honey bees are dying all over the world.

So here’s what you have to do get those bugs out of your home and into somewhere more appropriate for them.

Relocation

The best way to remove honey bees without killing them is to relocate them.

Relocating an army of a thousand stinging bees is no joke. That’s why you shouldn’t attempt to do this alone, especially if you don’t have any experience in doing it. If you are confident with your skills, then you can probably get away with removing a very small hive, one that’s just starting out. Otherwise, you’d have to contact local bee keepers or bee relocating services to get the bees out of your house.

Here’s a video from The Promise Land that shows a real-life bee relocation scenario. The site also offers a step-by-step tutorial for beginners.

Garlic Spray

The idea behind this is simple. Since bees are heavily reliant on their sense of smell, they can be put off by overpowering pungent odors. So regularly spraying a mix of crushed garlic gloves and water into the place they’re currently staying in may force them to abandon it.

Smoke

Another common way to get rid of honey bees without hurting them too much is using smoke. Continuously burning cardboard, wood and other combustible materials underneath the hive can trigger a natural response among the bees. Honey bees have a natural alarm that associates smoke with forest fires, giving them an overwhelming sense to leave the hive and look for another nesting site elsewhere.

Don’t forget to consult your city’s and neighborhood’s policies on burning things in your property. Obviously, smoke can cause trouble for humans too.

Citronella Candles

You know what citronella can do to mosquitoes. But did you know that it can also work against bees?

Instead of strong smelling smoke, use citronella candles to shoo the bees away. Citronella won’t kill the honey bees. However, placing several burning candles underneath their hive can force them to relocate. Just keep the candles burning for several days. This method only works for hives found indoors or during days with low wind and no rain. Of course, you’ll want the candles to burn continuously for this method to work. Any interruption from the outside elements can render the entire treatment worthless.

Incense Sticks

A blog from James Heng talks about using this unorthodox solution. He even has a full account of the removal story there.

Accordingly, incense sticks or joss sticks can produce smoke uninterruptedly. Putting them beneath a small hive can cause the bees to have the same reaction as they would with other kinds of smoke.

However, you shouldn’t use those regular joss sticks because they’re too small. Look for the giant ones at are used in traditional Chinese prayers. Each one can burn up to 12 hours, so you have enough smoke to chase the bees out.

There are plenty more methods that can help you remove honey bees without killing them. However, using joss sticks, smoke, garlic and the rest of the treatments we’ve mentioned are the easiest to do.

But if you have other ideas about removing beehives without inflicting too much damage on them, feel free to tell us about it!