I love and keep bees. That being said, I’d prefer not to have them living in the walls of the house. Now, a hive can live in a wall for years and cause no harm–forget about the horror stories told by exterminators (they are, after all, selling poison). But if you have to remove bees from a wall it can be an expensive job if done correctly. I’ve removed hives from walls and it’s both hard on the bees and the beekeeper.
Thankfully you can take a few easy steps to prevent a hive from moving into your house. Bees like dark hollow spaces–think of a dead tree or an empty stud wall. Here in LA many old houses, such as ours, have lots of cracks a bee colony would be happy to move into. Note the small hole I found on one of our walls that opens into an empty space between the studs (old LA houses often have no insulation).
So how do you keep bees from moving in? According to backwards beekeeping master Kirk Anderson., all you need to do is fill a wall cavity with a can of spray foam insulation.
Please note: do not do this if there is already a hive in residence! If that is the case, hire a beekeeper to cut or trap them out. Bees are very gentle until you disturb their living quarters. If you’re in Los Angeles you can call the Backwards Beekeper rescue line. If you’re not in Los Angeles, start your own Backwards group!
How to Welcome Bees Into Your Wall
Now, a more permacultural approach would be to design buildings in such a way to welcome bees into a wall. Here’s an example of a hive box built into a stone wall in India:
|Photo from http://ranichari.blogspot.com/|
There’s a tradition of keeping hives in wall or niches in Europe and many other parts of the world. No need for spray foam or exterminators–just lots of free honey from your wall.
|Bee skep in a wall in Kent, England.|
Time to bring back this practice!
Note from Kelly: This might seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people pay for bee removal or extermination and then do nothing afterward to correct the conditions that attracted the bees in the first place. Invariably the bees come back, because a house which looked good to one swarm will look just as good to the next swarm that comes along. Better, in fact, because it will smell of bees. Plug those holes and screen off all vents!