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Michigan Honeybee Swarm Retrieval and Rescue

Instructions for reporting a Honey Bee Swarm

Be certain they are honey bees. If you are not sure – please see below and some frequently asked questions to help you decide. Contact the Michigan Bee Swarm Removal hotline at 734-377-8720. A list of beekeepers and retrieval experts is curated for most Michigan Counties. Work out an agreement with that individual provided to you through the hotline as The Sustainable Beekeepers Guild of Michigan does not perform captures or cut-outs.  Most swarm removals are free, but some removals are very involved and there may be a charge for it.  This is between you and the beekeeper/removal expert. The Sustainable Beekeepers Guild of Michigan is not a party to your actions or agreements.

How Beekeepers Remove Honeybee Swarms in Michigan

When beekeepers come to humanely remove a swarm, beekeepers don’t bring sprays to kill them, rather beekeepers bring them a new home in the form of a small beehive that already has some honeycombs ready to go for them. Beekeepers usually take a white sheet with us and lay that on the ground under where the swarm is hanging, usually in a tree or bush. Beekeepers then put the hive directly under the swarm beekeepers are trying to remove. Beekeepers take the cover off their new home and give the branch a firm shake, this will dislodge the bees and cause them to fall to the ground. This won’t hurt them as they will buzz their wings when this happens and gently fall to the ground. Each swarm of honeybees has a queen bee in it. If the queen falls to the ground with the rest of the bees and falls into the new beehive, the rest of the honeybees will sense her and follow her into the beehive. If the queen didn’t make it into the hive, she may have flown up to the branch again, in which case beekeepers will wait for the honeybees to settle on the branch again and beekeepers will start the process over again. Once the queen is safely in the hive, most of the bees will follow her within a few minutes, with some stragglers taking a little longer. When they are all safely in their new home beekeepers will close off the entrance and take them to the car for the ride to their new home. 

Why Save Honeybees Rather Than Have a Pest Control Company Spray Them?

Honeybees and bee species may be the most important living organism on our planet. Without our little pollinator friends, countless plant species would die out and beekeepers wouldn’t have countless fruits and vegetables that are part of our everyday lives. Animals up and down the food chain would be greatly affected. Save the honeybees and don’t have them killed! 

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Bee Removal? How Expensive?

Most homeowners insurance companies do not cover the cost of removing bees if they are in your house. If they are hanging in a swarm beekeepers are happy to remove them for free, but most beekeepers have to charge for removing honeybees from homes and other buildings. Since damage by bees is damage over time, rather than sudden loss, insurance companies don’t cover the cost to the best of our knowledge, but you might try contacting your insurance company. 

Why Do Beekeepers Remove Bees for Free?

Beekeepers remove honeybees swarms for free because beekeepers use the honeybees in our apiary to produce honey, pollen and other bee products. Beekeepers also want to save the swarms from being exterminated. If you call an exterminator they will charge you money to come out and get rid of the bees, destroying the lives of many thousands of important pollinators. If you call a beekeeper to get rid of the bees for you, the bees will continue to live on in a safe place away from any pesticides and outside of people’s homes and buildings, in their own beehives.

Why Isn’t Removing Honeybees from House Walls Free?

Removing honeybees from inside your house walls, ceilings, under the siding, attic, etc. takes a lot of time and requires a lot of equipment and experience to do successfully. Beekeepers are not able to spend several hours removing the bee nest from the house walls and afford to do it for free. While the beekeepers do get to keep the bees from the removal process, the honeybees themselves do not provide enough value to make it worth it for the beekeeper to remove already established honeybees colonies for free. As beekeepers discussed above, beekeepers do remove honeybees swarms for free, but that is a much less involved process as the bees are on the exterior of buildings, usually hanging from a tree branch. Honeybees swarms are hanging their waiting until the bee scouts find a new home in the area, which could be inside the walls of your house, but they haven’t chosen the home yet if they are still hanging in a swarm.

Special thanks to Joe Kolb for his assistance with this document.

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