Who ARE these bees?

And why are they worth saving alive?

  • You have probably heard that “bees are endangered”
    • It’s true. Many factors are combining to wreak havoc on many types of bees, including honey bees.
    • Whether the cause of honey bee decline is pesticides or disease or parasites or shrinking habitat, it’s true: bees are struggling.
  • Probably every “bee development” or “bee breeding” effort in the USA is focused on selecting “survivor” bees as the “bee of the future.” We applaud the approach, but in virtually every case, the bees from which the “best bees” are being selected are those with hundreds of years of genetic weaknesses hiving been bred into them.
  • American Bee Control, on the other hand, takes in all hives of honey bees. We are breeding the bees of the future, but we aren’t starting with the bees inherited from our forefathers. With your help, we collect the whole bee colony alive. We never kill the bees. We keep them and see how they behave after they are established in their own wooden beehive box.
  • What do we do with the bees? We keep them in bee yards (apiaries) throughout Southern Arizona. Our wholly-owned sister company, Wagon Wheel Ranch of Arizona carefully watches over them. They are kept safe from predators (including bears) and poisoning. Unlike many large beekeeping operations, we resist the temptation to rent the bees out to commercial agriculture. We aren’t opposed to bees performing pollination services for farmers. But we DO NEED to keep our bees free from the harmful effects of modern agricultural chemicals. Similarly, we like to avoid having our beehives return to Arizona after having been infected by sickly bees that have fled their failing hives while occupying the same orchard in another state.
  • In the case of a beehive that behave very badly, we still don’t wipe them out. We simply replace their queen. By so doing, it’s only a matter of a few weeks until all the bees in the “hot” hive are the offspring of the new queen mother.
    • We are always looking for every possible opportunity to have place an all-star queen in an additional hive so we can shorten the cycle of when we can make our “naturally healthy, hardy bees” available to beekeepers all across the country.
    • Please visit the web page of Wagon Wheel Ranch to learn more about our internationally-renowned bee breeding program.

Preventing bees from colonizing your property

Prevention is nine tenths of the cure.

In Southern Arizona, there is almost never a week in which bees aren’t on the move, splitting their hive and colonizing a new spot.

The best way to prevent bees from colonizing a location is to prevent them from discovering places that suit the needs of homeless bees.

What are homeless bees looking for in a future beehive site? A cavity of about five gallons (about twenty liters) or bigger. Preferably, their home would have fairly constant temperature, rather than be exposed to direct sun. Examples of irresitable beehive habitats are a cabinet situated on a north-facing back porch. Likewise, an overturned, empty flowerpot deep in the shade of a large tree. The most common place from which American Bee Control relocates beehives is from underneath the floorboards of a backyard storage shed.

Some of the above-mentioned “irresistible locations” are easier to protect against than others. But in most cases, property owners can greatly reduce the chance of harboring a future beehive by simply denying bees what they are looking for in an habitable cavity. In the case of the overturned flowerpot, we recommend wadding up a sheet of landscape plastic (like a painter’s dropcloth plastic, if thick enough to remain lofted when stuffed inside.) This is an excellent deterrent because, during the processes of the advance scouting party, the scout bees determine that “there simply isn’t enough room for a family of our size,” (because the volume is taken up by the plastic wadding.)

In the case of bees that may become interested in moving their colony into an attic area, the little gaps that typically exist next to the roof rafters are prime opportunities for bees to find and colonize the space above the ceiling. Highest priority should be given to the areas where the temperature is most constant, such as where a tree overhangs the roof and provides shade. Similarly the eaves of the the building that may be shaded by a chimney or other structure will have far greater chance of hosting a beehive, compared to south-facing, fully exposed eaves.

American Bee Control offers complete “bee-deterrence” service where we survey the property from corner to corner and propose a level of protection most likely to eliminate any chance of bees moving in later. We are pleased to note that on several occasions after Tucsonans have hired big-name pest control companies to perform ‘beeproofing services” the homes have been colonized by beehives. It these cases, American Bee Control has not only relocated the hive alive, but also provided the comprehensive bee-deterrence service at a reasonable price. This goes to show that American Bee Control really knows bees and the things that bees do and don’t seek when considering a new home.

Aside from bee deterrence technologies, we also offer “swarm trapping,” a modern, high-tech method of the ancient practice of enticing homeless bees to choose a beehive box that we strategically place on your property. We trademarked the term Honey Bee Hotel, because it is so inviting that bees are eager to “check in” and stay indefinitely. This greatly improves the chances that the property owner will dodge the bullet of having unwanted bees nesting in a structure. This is particularly suited to structures located on large parcels of undeveloped land. This technology is offered as a service and priced as an annual lease. Pricing is based on the number of units appropriate to protect the property, the ease of access to the designated sites, and who it is that monitors the Honey Bee Hotel for evidence of newly-resident bees.

An excellent book on how bees choose the best future homesite from among multiple available cavities is 1 Comment

What are the bees’ intentions?

Many of the normal daily activities of honey bees can resemble multiple different intentions on the part of the bees.

Take, for example, the case of a Tucson-area rental property.  Unbeknownst to the owner, bees moved into the eaves, entering via a screened-off vent hole that had been compromised by the pecking of a Gila Woodpecker.   The tenant killed off the bees, presumably by squirting some type of insecticide into the cavity.  By leaving nearly a hundred pounds of honey, dead bees, biologically active pollen and other materials in the house above the ceiling, the tenants set the property up for an almost impossible-to-counteract nest of cricket, cockroaches and other critters.

After the tenants were replaced by others, the out-of-town landlord became aware that bees were paying a lot of attention to the eaves of the house. What the tenants reported to the landlord was that bees were seen flying to and from the eaves over a large portion of the side of the house.

With permission from the landlord, American Bee Control had a phone conversation with the tenant.  Based on the description of the bees’ behavior, it became obvious that the bees were interested in gaining access to “unprotected honey” (to use a term that bees would, if they spoke English.)  Because the area was sealed off to entry by neighborhood bees, the persissted in flying around, hoping to gain access.  This was in the winter time, when it would not be expected that they would be househunting, at least not in large numbers.   ABC’s expertise in analyzing bee behavior led to the conclusion that, due to rainy weather and high humidity, the honey that was now pooled on the top of the ceiling was hygroscopically absorbing moisture from the humid air.  The newly-liquified honey was detected by neighborhood beehives at a time when natural foliage offered almost no source of nectar.  The persistent probing of the eaves of the house closely resembled the activity of “scout bees” seeking a future home for their homeless colony.  By understanding bee behavior, ABC was able to assure the tenant and the landlord regarding what was, and wasn’t appropriate type of service for the property.

We welcome all your questions regarding what bees are doing at your property. We will give you our best advice regardless of whether it involves our services or other offerings that are more congruent with your particular situation.  Please don’t hesitate to call or email.  If we can’t take your call at the moment, we will gladly call you back soon.  Please be prepared to give a description of what activity the bees are doing, such as “coming and going” or “walking around on the top of the wall,” or “flying around, and occasionally landing.”  For some information regarding how to characterize bee behavior in advance of calling ABC, please see our YouTube Video “5 Ways to Tell if Bees Have Moved in.”

Staying safe from bees

We remove (relocate) bees–the whole beehive–from every place they go. We never kill the bees.

Please check back soon for updated content from American Bee Control

We have gathered a lot of wisdom from decades of living with bees and interacting with folks who want the bees to live, but not live at their property.

Please don’t hesitate to call American Bee Control at 520-780-1831

Explaining what you see the bees doing

Bees do a lot of different things

Even if your question doesn’t involve bees that are living on (or in) your property, you may find it useful to watch this brief video to get ideas on how to describe the behavior of your bees. It will likely help us, on the phone, to quickly understand what best meets your needs regarding the future of the bees.

We never kill the bees. We relocate them into their own wooden beehive box where their descendants can live for decades into the future.

Please call or email. We are pleased to answer your questions about bees. (520) 780-1831

Fostering bee healthy landscapes

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