Reasons Beekeepers Charge for Live Bee Removal
You may have heard of beekeepers that remove live bees for free. Generally speaking, these people are hobbyists and do not rely on making money from their hobby. However, beekeepers like me, Matthew Davies, typically charge for the removal. The inconsistency between people that charge and those that don’t create a little confusion to homeowners. Just know that whenever someone does a service for you, payment should be expected. If for whatever reason, there is not a charge, you should at least attempt to provide the person with some compensation. That could be anything from a bottle of wine or champagne to a gift certificate for them and their partner to a restaurant.
That being said, I will discuss why some beekeepers, like myself, charge for the removal of live bees. Hint: it has nothing to do with being greedy.
A common misconception is that the beekeeper needs or wants the bee in question. Therefore, many people feel that when you call someone to remove the bee or bees, they are already getting their payment in the form of another bee for their colony. In actually, the only bee that will likely be leaving is the queen. Once the queen has been removed, the workers will attempt to find a new queen to serve under. So, at best, the beekeeper is going to end up with a single bee.
Even if the bee is taken with the beekeeper, it can be less than ideal for them. Generally speaking, wild bees do not meld well with bee colonies owned by beekeepers. While most beekeepers do their best to be hands-off when it comes to caring for their bees, instincts kick in, and they will try to preserve their brood by any means necessary. It is becoming increasingly more important for beekeepers to maintain their colony as long as possible because bees are suffering a drop in population. Some say it is due to climate change, some say it is from pesticides, and others say because of habit loss. I am the type of person that seems to think it is a combination of all possible causes. In other words, I don’t think it is one specific reason that there is a diminishing population of bees; but I digress.
Another common reason people feel they don’t need to pay beekeepers is to make more in the honey that the bee produces. You need to understand that not all bees produce honey. Secondly, even if the bee can produce honey, it takes time to make honey with a colony. Mature colonies can take up to a year to provide the beekeeper with honey. You need to remember that beekeepers will only take surplus honey. Not all honey is available for us to take. Honey is food for the bees. When they make more than they need, then we take the extra. Until they have produced enough for the brood and for us to take, we will not touch a drop of their honey.
Perhaps that can be an additional reason as to why there is a decreasing bee population. It has become quite popular to live off the grid. These people are trying to do things for themselves without the need to rely on others. Therefore, they possibly have been attempting beekeeping and kill their hives off because they take honey as soon as it appears. That does not leave enough food for the bees, and they die off. I am not saying this is happening, but it could wind up being an additional reason.
Reasons for Charging
The most common reason a beekeeper will charge you for the removal is based on the removal difficulty. When you are trying to figure out if you will be charged or not, you need not look any further than how long the bees have been around. If the bees have been around just a day or two, it is called a swarm. Longer than that, and it is called an established colony. When it comes to removal, swarms are easier to get rid of than colonies.
I feel I need to explain the above terms further. A swarm does not have a home. It is merely a clump of bees that land on a house, on a tree, or any number of places. This is relatively easy to deal with. All you need to do is locate the queen and remove her to another location. When it comes to swarms, most beekeepers have not had the privilege of working with them. Removing your swarm may be a rush for them, and they will thank you for providing them with a new experience.
Established colonies are harder to deal with. Removal of these colonies requires a lot of experience. So, when you are paying for this service, know you are paying for their expertise, not for their time. It may take a long time, but the price will still be high. They have to know how to locate the queens and remove them to a location that will no longer bother you, the customer.
Unseen Costs of Removal
I already mentioned that experience is something you are paying for. That is what I call an unseen or intangible expense. You cannot see or touch the amount of experience the beekeeper has. Therefore, you don’t know that it costs money. Some other unseen costs are equipment, time & gas, insurance, and other business expenses.
While most beekeepers keep bees as a hobby, I, Matthew Davies, use beekeeping as a means to have money. Living off the grid can be just as expensive as living in the suburbs. We have equipment that needs to be repaired, and even new equipment to make us more efficient. All these things cost money. I doubt taking a bee colony to the tractor supply store would net me many new tools to maintain my bees and property. Try not to think of beekeepers as someone who is there to help you without charging but think of them as providing a service you should compensate them for.