Last week, we experienced the process of democracy at its best. As a country, we were able to cast our votes on who we thought should be the President of the United States of America for the next four years. But did you know that our electoral process isn’t that much different than the process of how honeybees find a place to live?
A female scout is sent out to find a new home for the hive. When the scout finds a suitable home that is large enough to store honey with small entrances to keep invaders out, it returns to the current hive to tell the other honeybees about their find. The scout will rave about the new findings by wagging her tail and dancing, this isn’t always the tactic that we see in our own politics but you never know. The scout travels back and forth many times to the prospective site. Each time she returns she continues to wag and dance for the other bees. When her moves are more enthusiastic it is a sign that she still thinks the new site is a great place to live, if her moves get less enthusiastic then the other bees know that she’s not as on board with the new site as she once was. In certain cases, similar to US politics, the scout bee will even head butt other scouts that are trying to convince the hive of going somewhere different.
Eventually, as a group, the bees determine which place is best for the whole group. See, just as with American politics, there is dancing around and even the occasional headbutting but the majority rules on what is for the greater good.
The following story is the reason I decided to start bringing a camera with me on the job. I didn’t want to miss any unique experiences like this one.
I showed up at the customer’s house on a rainy afternoon. They had told our office staff that they had seen bees
on the side of their home and had heard some buzzing in the wall. At first glance it seemed pretty typical, bees entering the structure of the home and building a hive. The customer asked me to look at something outside, she then pointed out a large mass in a tree in her neighbor’s yard. I grabbed my binoculars to get a better look and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Attached to the tree was a mass twice the size of a football and filled bees. (After researching this phenomenon I discovered this is how they transfer the queen to a new hive. All the workers gather around the queen to protect her while a select few special workers prepare the hive.)
The bees were entering the customers house through a small gap between the brick basement and the hardy plank siding. By using a stethoscope, I was able to locate the exact location of the hive, the ceiling above their living room which was also the floor of the master bedroom. I drilled into the ceiling and found honey on my drill which confirmed the hive location.
We began carefully cutting into the sheet rock to reveal the hive. What we saw was truly nature at work.
Thousands of bees working together for one common purpose, to make honey! The noise was deafening, the buzz of the bees filled the room, yet surprisingly they didn’t attack.
When bees are inside a home we remove them with a shop-vac. We began to remove individual pieces of honeycomb and place them in garbage bags, we filled up 2 contractor sized bags each weighing about 30-40 lbs! Once the honeycomb was removed, every ounce of wax and honey must be completely cleaned off, so we scraped and scrubbed to ensure the bees and other pests wouldn’t come back.
We sealed up the entry on the outside of the home and placed plastic around the opening to keep any left over bees from entering the living space of the home. Success! Hive removed, customer and family safe!
Although you may be seeing bees buzzing around your home it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an active bee hive in your area. There is a good possibility that you are seeing scout bees. The survival of a bee hive oftentimes depends on the scouting bee. Bees need a constant supply of nectar and have to find a new place to go once their source is low. This is where the scout bee comes in. Scouting bees are sent out to look for a new home for their hive and if you do not take action, your home could be their new home.
To most people, scout bees look just like other active bees but once you get a closer look, you are able to notice small differences in their behavior. Scout bees usually scout an area for about 3 days before moving in or moving on. If you see bees for 5 days or longer, there is a good chance that it is an active hive and not just a scout bee. Scout bees tend to hover around an area rather than a steady stream of bees that are coming and going from the same area; that is typically an active hive. Scout bees are not as aggressive as other bees since they are not protecting their hive.
It is better to treat for scouting bees rather than taking a chance of getting an active hive. Bees can cause structural damage to your property as well as pose a safety risk. It is always best to call a professional exterminating company for bee removal. If you live in the Atlanta, Columbus, or Nashville area and are seeing bees, call Northwest Exterminating and we will come take a look to see if you are seeing scouting bees or an active hive.
Have you seen scouting bees near your home?