Honey Bees

If you clicked over to this page fearing that Z Pest Control LLC is in the business of exterminating honey bees, fear not! It's actually the opposite - I keep them! 

(Unless they're in a space from which they can't be recovered, which may necessitate an extermination, but I try to avoid that as much as it is reasonable to.)

Do you have a swarm in your yard right now? An established colony in a wall void, the trunk of a tree on your property, or some other inconvenient spot? Call me now at 509-540-7946 and I will remove them free of charge as soon as I am able to, or if I am unavailable I will try to find an area beekeeper to help you. 

If this isn't an emergency, then please, read on!


In the course of my pest control work, I am sometimes called in to assist with honey bees that may or may not be causing a problem for someone. Sometimes this is a swarm that suddenly appears in a person's yard or a public space, or a bee hive established in an inconvenient spot.

In the fall of 2014, it occurred to me that since my work at times has me crossing paths with bee colonies, maybe I should try to collect them and give them a home! Inspired, in the winter of 2015 I began studying beekeeping and acquiring the basic equipment I would need to set up my first hive.

My first attempt at establishing a colony failed when the package of bees that I ordered from an apiary on the east coast of the U.S. was incorrectly routed by the U.S. Postal Service. What should have been a maximum journey of three days was turned into nine, at the end of which most of the bees I purchased had died in transit. Those that survived, including the queen, were weakened to the point that they died soon after, too.

Then about one month later in May of 2015 I got my second chance: I was contacted by someone about a swarm of honey bees that gathered in a tree in their back yard. They were successfully collected and became my first hive:

Swarming is normal reproductive behavior for honey bees: when a colony reaches sufficient size, the old queen (usually, sometimes it's a new queen) will leave with approximately half of the workers, and the bees that stay behind in the old hive will continue on with a new queen. One colony thus becomes two (sometimes more!).

The swarm will follow the queen that is guiding them to a resting place, and from there scouts will go out to look for a new home, inside of a cavity of some kind. When enough scouts select a particular spot, the swarm will move to it and set up a new hive. Usually, a swarm in your yard will leave on its own within 24 to 48 hours.

A honey bee swarm can be relatively loud and intimidating, but you really have very little to worry about. Honey bees are generally not aggressive, and when they do not even have a hive to defend, they'll typically be even less so. You should exercise common sense caution around a swarm of course, particularly if you are allergic to bee stings, but if you stand at least a few feet away from the mass and do not disturb them, they will pretty much just ignore your presence. 

That's how it was with this swarm that I collected in downtown Walla Walla, near the intersection of Birch and 3rd street this past April (2021). This unusually large swarm (it was roughly the size of two basketballs) was just five feet off the ground and right next to parking spaces. To my knowledge, no one was stung or otherwise accosted by the bees, even as people walked nearby them on the adjacent sidewalk. This is how they are, there's really nothing much to be afraid of. After about an hour of transitioning most of the swarm from this branch into a vented bucket, I brought them to their new home where they've been growing as a colony at an incredible pace ever since. 

Then there's those times where the issue isn't a swarm, but an established colony in a place where it creates a problem: a wall void, in the trunk of a tree that needs to be removed, some spot where a hazard is created for allergic individuals, etc. I can help in those situations, too: last year I extracted one colony from a wall void of a condo, and two colonies from standing tree trunks!

An established colony in a wall void of a condo,
extracted 16 June 2020

Removing a colony from a tree trunk
in Waitsburg, WA, 8 Aug 2020

Another tree trunk colony 
extraction, WaHi campus,
2 September 2020

Placing and anchoring comb
in Langstroth hive frames,
WaHi campus tree extraction,
2 September 2020

This is a side project to my main business that I am hoping to grow into something substantial, more than just a hobby. Eventually I am hoping to have honey and perhaps some other bee-related products to sell, so please keep checking back! Thanks for reading!

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