Here is an account of the oldest honey bee colony I have ever heard of, located in Rutledge, GA about 45 minutes east of Atlanta.
It was Ms. Sandra Verner Latimer, who contacted Southeast Bee Removal for the job:
"My family's ancestral home has had honeybees in the front corner of the porch and half-column against the wall of the house for as long as I can remember and I am 67 years old. My grandmother was born in the house in 1880 and she told us the bees were there when she was a child. I also grew up there and remember several times when my parents had local beekeepers try to remove the bees without success. I know they finally let the exterminator try, but even then, the bees came back."
The beam that supported the porch roof was filled with dripping honey comb!
I knew this bee removal job was going to take a long time from the very start, and it did. It took probably twice as long as normal job because of the size and age of the hive. Old hives have dark almost black comb that is tough and extremely difficult to scrape out. The amount of comb I pulled out was enormous. It equalled a five gallon bucket of honey and two huge contractor size garbage bags full.
I often am asked how long can a bee hive survive someone where? People want to know if the bees will go away if they leave them alone. Honey bees can last for years, and in this case, over a century. Their resilience is really quite amazing. Although a queen's life span is only a few years and worker bees only live around 30 days in the summer during the nectar flow, they are able to continually replace themselves. Honey bee hives constantly raise new queens to replace the old ones. The queen bee, if a good one, can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day. So the worker bees are replaced as well. As long as the bees have good honey stores and are able to fight off disease they can live in a place indefinitely.
Roof above porch also filled with very old dark comb.
Why were the bee removal attempts unseccessful and why did the bees always come back to this house? The reason is this, the void was left vacant after the comb was removed. Also, the cracks the bees were accessing to get in were not sealed properly. Honey bees have a wonderful sense of smell and can easily find where an old hive has been in the past. If the old home was left "vacant" a new batch of bees will most certainly move in. What Southeast Bee Removal does is this: we fill the void with fiberglass insulation which leaves no space for the bees to build another hive. There just isn't room. We also make sure the cracks and gaps are sealed. With houses that have had honey bee problems in the past it is a good idea to check for gaps and cracks every few years, because the wood can rot and things can shift.
Inexperienced beekeepers and some pest control companies may think the job is done if the bees and comb are removed or the bees just killed. This is not the case. Sealing the area where the bee hive was at, is just as important as removing the bees. Keep this in mind, when hiring a bee removal company to remove bees from your home. Ask questions to find out exactly what services will be performed.
Another section of the porch roof that had bees and comb in it. The comb extended about 6 feet back total from the bees' entry point.
There were actually two hives at this job, about 10 feet apart from each other. The bees from the orginal location had split and expanded into the porch column about 10 years ago. It was a strong healthy colony of bees.
Southeast bee removal removed all the comb and bees from both hives, did the repairs, and sealed all entry points.
2nd hive of bees in porch column
It was really neat to be a part of a bee removal with such rich history, and I took the utmost care to the best job that I could.
Ms. Latimer, told me that it was a little hard parting with the bees. "I'm already feeling like we're going to miss these bees. They have been such an ever present part of our family life, it will be strange for them to be gone!"
Though hard to see the bees go, she and her family were happy that the bees were relocated and not killed, and would be well taken care of!
Their new address: Southeast Bee Removal's bee yard in Fayetteville GA.