Meetings 2nd Thursday of every month See General Meeting page for details
Many people call the association stating that they have ¨free bees¨ to give away and asking if someone can come and pick them up. Unfortunately, beekeeping costs money, money that is not recouped by getting bees from homeowners. Here are five reasons why bee removals are not free.
1. Beekeepers should be licensed and insured to do removals.
Our beekeepers that do removals are licensed and insured, and that costs money. Why have insurance? Many feral bee colonies in South Florida are African-derived to some extent. Africanized bees are more defensive than European honey bees, which means they tend to sting more often and chase intruders away from the colony for longer distances. If someone is injured during the removal, then the beekeeper’s insurance will handle this. Bee removals should be done by experts, who are trained and registered with the State of Florida.
2. Bees have to be removed in hives or other beekeeping equipment.
When the bees are removed from your property, they must be transported in a hive box or some other beekeeping equipment, like a bee vacuum. This equipment costs money to buy, or build, and maintain. Many bee rescues require the use of a bee vacuum of some sort to make sure that all the bees are removed quickly and safely. This is another reason why you want a professional to do this job. Bees are then put into a hive setup, which at todays prices is about $300 per setup.
3. Once removed, bees are like livestock and have to be taken care of on the beekeeper’s property.
Either on their own property or some one else’s that they are managing, once the bees are removed they have to be taken care of just like any other livestock. You are calling the beekeeper to remove the bees safely for the environment and to save the bees. Well, once they are saved they still have to be managed, fed, and taken care of. This isn’t free either, it takes time and an investment in equipment, bee nutrients, pest control, and management. Most beekeepers do not recoup these costs from selling honey, as there are too many cheap grade honey knockoffs being imported from other countries these days.
4. Feral colonies must be requeened according the Florida Regulations.
Because feral colonies in South Florida are African-derived to different degrees, Florida regulations state that all feral colonies must be requeened. This means finding the original queen, and replacing her with a queen of gentler, European stock. Queens can only be purchased from queen breeders that have been certified by the state of Florida to be able to raise and sell queens of known stock. This is an ongoing effort to improve our South Florida bee genetics and make our bees gentler and less Africanized. This means that every colony a beekeeper removes costs the beekeeper money to requeen. (https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN1297)
5. Time, Gas, and Sweat.
When someone calls for a bee removal, they need the colony removed ASAP. This means that the beekeeper has to drop any other plans they may have made, and come right over to take care of the bees. Some beekeepers do this for a living while others have full or part time jobs to work around. Many of our beekeepers live in Broward county but will drive to other counties to do removals, despite the extra time and gas involved. And lastly, there is what I call Sweat Equity. If you`ve lived in South Florida for any time at all, you know how hot it is. In a bee suit you can multiply that several times over, bee suits are HOT and the beekeeper is standing in the hot sun for hours to do this job. You would not expect free services from any other professionals, such as a plumber, lawn or pool service, etc. So expecting free services from a beekeeper is unrealistic.
Most of us do this for love of the bees, and our environment is all the richer for it. However, beekeepers don`t get rich from doing removals or from keeping bees. There`s an old joke ¨How to make a million dollars keeping bees - start with two million dollars…..¨. For more information on exactly what is required of beekeepers doing removals and rescues, please see the State of Florida Best Management Practices Document here - https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN1297
Thank you for reading this article and for wanting to save the bees. As beekeepers we share your enthusiasm and concerns, and we want to do the best we can for you and for the bees. Thank you for your understanding and for contacting us instead of a pest control company.
The Broward Beekeepers Association
encourages honeybees rescues in lieu of extermination. This program helps to build strong managed and feral colonies, reduces the introduction of pesticides into our environment and puts honeybees back into agricultural production
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