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Little Giant Beekeepers Blog

What is a Honeybee Scout?

Our last blog post talked about the spring phenomenon of honeybee swarms. Well, a swarm goes hand-in-hand with another spring honeybee activity, scouting.

What is a Scouting Honeybee?

Scout bees are a smaller group of bees that hang together and “scout” for a new place for the swarm to move into. You can tell a scout bee because it looks like they are checking out a broad area, flying around, or scouting. People often see scouting bees flying in small groups around the outside of their house. These bees are scouting a place for their swarm to move into. So…beware if you see this.

Often, the scouting bees make their way into a home from the outside. We get many distressed phone calls about bees scouting a house in spring.  Clients also may call when they find an alarmingly large number of dead bees inside their home. Usually, this means the bees have died while scouting. They get inside a house through a small hole outside and then can’t find their way back out. Eventually, they die of exhaustion.

A swarm on your property might just decide to move on to the next location but if you see scout bees around your house you should be on the lookout. They could decide your home is a nice place to make their next home. This is never a good thing for a homeowner.

How do I know if I have a scout or a swarm?

Scout bees will be scanning a large area. If you see single bees going in and out a hole in a structure in a single line you might already have a swarm that has moved in. It is a best at this point to call a profession bee removal specialist who can help you decipher if you just have scout bees or a hive already established.

If you are concerned you have a swarm or scout bees call Little Giant Beekeepers at 972-980-0923 and see what the next step is to protect your home. We can safely remove a swarm for a fee and relocate them to an apiary.

Why Honeybees Swarm in Spring

Spring is in the air! Warmer temperatures bring everyone out to enjoy the great outdoors, including honeybees. When Spring rolls around, Mary, Missy and Gail, our amazing bee phone call specialists, start to get some panicky calls from Dallas /Fort Worth customers about honeybee swarms.

Q: “Why is there a football size clump of bees hanging from my tree?”
A (Mary): “Sounds like you have a honeybee swarm, no need to panic.”

Q: “Please help me! There is a swarm of bees down the block what do I do?
A (Missy): “Take a deep breath you’ve called the right place.”

Q: “I see a ton of bees flying around outside my house. I’m scared.”
A (Gail): “Don’t worry. We can help!”

Spring gives rise to honeybee swarms. A swarm sounds scary, but it is just nature’s way of helping the bee population survive. All winter, bees have been holed up in their current hive living off the honey they have produced. When the weather begins to warm the colony starts to expand.

What is a Honeybee Swarm?

The queen bee is busy laying eggs this time of year, including worker and drone eggs. Soon the hive grows too big for only one queen bee and another queen is created. The second queen bee arrives when the hive has expanded so much that the workers can no longer smell the first queen bee’s pheromones she emits. Basically, if they can’t smell the first queen bee, they don’t know she’s alive so they create a new queen bee by feeding the future queen bee royal jelly. There is only one queen bee per hive so now a new colony needs to be formed. Usually the original queen bee will fly off with about half the colony and go find a new place to live. This is a swarm.

Little Giant Beekeepers gets many call about this phenomenon this time of year. People see a clump of bees hanging on a tree, branch or sometimes a car and the sight can be a bit unnerving. A swarm stops wherever the queen decides to rest. The group waits here while scouting bees go find a new place to make a permanent home. If you see a swarm in your yard or area you will want to keep an eye out to make sure the scouting bees don’t make your home, their home!

If you have a swarm around your house call Little Giant Beekeepers and we can talk about the next steps in protecting your home from a swarm moving in. We can come safely remove the swarm for a fee and relocate them to an apiary so you don’t have to worry about them moving into your structure…never fun for a homeowner! Call 972-980-0923.

What is a Live Honeybee Hive Removal?

A live honeybee hive removal is when a bee removal company removes the bee colony and hive alive and relocates the bees to an apiary. Our company, Little Giant Beekeepers & Bee Removal Specialists, performs live honey bee hive removals all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

A swarm of honeybees can take up residence in some unexpected places, like your house! Honeybees particularly like older homes without wall insulation and often build behind an eave, siding, or wall. They can move into a structure through tiny cracks, as little as 5/16 of an inch! Once a swarm moves in, they begin to create a hive and honeycombs quickly. A queen can lay 1,500-2,000 eggs a day. An established hive can contain an average of 60,000 honey bees. A honeybee hive can grow rather large in a short time if not removed properly by a bee removal professional, like Little Giant Beekeepers and Bee Removal Specialists.

Once honeybees are established in a home it takes several steps to properly perform a removal. The first step of a live honeybee hive removal is finding the area where the bees are located. Once our technician locates the area of activity he will open the cavity in which the bees are located. It is hard to know the size of the colony until the space they are occupying is open.

Our highly trained bee technician will then remove the bees with a bee vacuum. This is a piece of equipment created to safely remove the bees from the space. The bees are then relocated to a container for safe keeping. Our bee technician will remove the hive and honeycombs from the area and clean out space with soap and water followed by bleach. If the area is not properly cleaned out, you might get bees in the same spot again because they can smell the pheromones left from previous bees and return. Needless to say, the cleaning step is important! After cleaning, we hard pack the area with insulation, another bee deterrent. We receive many calls from people who have had bees removed by other companies who did not properly clean the old hive area. Guess what that means? Bees again in the same spot!

Our bee removal experts have a background in bee removal as well as carpentry. At this point, the carpentry skills come into play. We replace all existing materials, for example, wood or siding, and leave the structure exterior exactly as it was before the bees were removed. We make sure all holes are completely sealed so no bees can get in again.

After the job is complete we will safely relocate the bees to a local apiary, a safe place where bees can go about being bees and making lots of honey.

There are some situations which make a live removal extremely difficult or in some cases too costly to remove and repair.  For example, if a bee colony occupies a space enclosed by cement, stone, or brick, a live removal might not be possible without the assistance of a brick or stone mason. No matter what, Little Giant Beekeepers & Bee Removal specialists can help you determine the right treatment for your specific needs and budget.

These are the basics of a Little Giant Beekeepers and Bee Removal Specialists live honeybee hive removal. We warranty all of our work, providing a five-year warranty for all removals performed by our company. Please feel free to call us at 972-980-0923 for a free live hive removal estimate.

How to Identify Honeybees and Other Flying Insects in Texas

When we get a call for a live honeybee hive removal in North Texas, the first step is to make sure the insects we are going to remove are actually honeybees. Some people see a flying insect and assume it is a honeybee, but in North Texas we have a variety of flying insects often mistaken for honeybees, including carpenter bees, bumblebees, southern yellow jackets, mud daubers, and lots of different types of wasps. Not all flying insects are the same! We’ve put together a handy little blog to help you sort out what kind of flying insect you may have zooming around your backyard.

How to Identify a Bee

First, they are cute! We might be a little biased, but we love honeybees. One key visual identifier for honeybees is that they are hairy. Southern yellow jackets and other wasps have no hair. Their coloring is golden brown with black stripes across their abdomen. If you take a closer at a North Texas honeybee on a plant, you can see yellow on their legs. Honeybees have little “baskets” on their legs to store pollen.

Unless you have Africanized honeybees, most are docile. They do not usually sting unless you smash one by accident or somehow attack the hive. Honeybees love flowers and flora and are not very interested in humans.

Another key identifier of a honey bee is the nest. Honeybees build their comb out of the wax they produce. It can be hard to find a hive though because they are often hidden behind a wall or cavity. We can help identify and confirm if honeybees are the insect you see at your home with some simple questions we ask over the phone.

How to Identify Bumblebees

Per Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas is home to nine different species of bumblebees. Bumblebees are bigger than regular honeybees and are also hairy. Their body is covered with fuzzy yellow and black striped hair.  They are most often confused with carpenter bees. The main differentiator between bumblebees and carpenter bees is bumblebees have a smaller head and hair on their abdomen. Carpenter bees have a larger head and no hair on their abdomen. If you have a chance to get an up-close look, you will see that bumblebees also have pollen baskets on their back legs. If you see one pollinating, you will hear a buzzing sound. That noise helps them remove pollen from plants.

Unlike honeybees, bumblebees live in the ground and build their nest in abandoned mammal holes and under porches and in wall voids. You won’t find a hive or honeycomb with a bumblebee.

How to Identify a Carpenter Bee

Carpenter bees are the larger than honeybees and bumblebees. The carpenter bee looks a lot like a bumblebee. They have a black body with yellow and black hair on their head and thorax. Their abdomen is bald and shiny, not fuzzy like the bumblebee belly.

If you see a larger bee coming in and out of a hole in wood, for example, a fence post or pergola, that is a carpenter bee. They build their home in unstained and unpainted wood.  They create a hole in wood that appears as though it was created with a power drill, perfectly round. You will find a small pile of sawdust underneath the hole. Unlike bumblebees, carpenter bees are solitary. The female carpenter bee lays her egg in the holes in wood they create. Males cannot sting but may fly at you aggressively. Females can sting but do not unless you stick your finger in their nesting hole or swat them.

How to Identify a Yellow Jacket

European and Southern yellow jackets are our least favorite flying insect at Little Giant Beekeepers. If you get stung and it hurt like heck, it is probably a yellow jacket. Due to the similarity in coloring and size, yellow jackets are often mistaken for the more docile honeybees.

One big differentiator from a honeybee is yellow jackets have a narrow waist and are hairless. They have a shiny yellow and black striped abdomen. Their coloring can make them look like bees, but they are in the wasp family. They do not have pollen baskets on their legs since they do not pollinate.

A main yellow jacket descriptor is their personality. They are aggressive. They sting multiple times with their barb, and it is quite painful.  Plus, they aggressively defend their nest and do not die after stinging you. You will not usually find yellow jackets on a flower or in a garden unless they have a nest nearby. Yellow jackets are considered carnivorous and eat other insects like ants.

Southern yellow jackets build their nest out of a paper fiber; it almost looks like papier mache.

How to Identify a Mud Dauber

Mud Daubers look scary but are harmless! They can sting but they most likely will not. They get their name from the elaborate nest they create out of mud. Usually, they have blackish brown bodies with yellow markings. They have a very small thread-thin waist, linking the thorax and abdomen and have a large head.

One of the easiest identifiers of a mud dauber is their mud nest. The female makes a nest out of mud on the exterior of a structure, like a porch, overhang or eave. They are a solidarity creature. One female creates the nest and lays the eggs. Mud daubers can be great for spider control as they feed their larvae spiders.

These are just some of the flying insects you might encounter in Texas. If you find you are having honeybee issues and need a live honeybee hive removal or another flying insect removed, please call Little Giant Beekeepers at 972-980-0923 for a free estimate. We will ask you some simple questions over the phone to find out what flying insect is buzzing around your house.

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