Many bee types live in the UK, around 300 species. But the average householder rarely sees any except the bumblebee (25 species) and the honeybee. Of them all, it’s the honeybee that causes most problems and needs removing when nesting in an inconvenient location.
The estimated cost of bee removal varies from £50-£1,000 depending on the service required, the infestation’s size, location and other factors we’ll consider later in this guide. In addition to discussing the price factors, this guide outlines estimated charges for different bee removal services, highlights the reasons to remove bee colonies and discusses the infestation signs. We’ll also look at the UK bee legislation, methods to remove bees and how to select a bee removal contractor.
Average Bee Removal Costs*
|Nest Location||Live Bee Swarm Removal||Live Bee & Comb Removal and Relocation||Bee Extermination|
*Disclaimer: We compiled the prices in this guide from various sources, which were correct at the time of writing (October 2022). However, these are estimated amounts, varying with several factors. For accurate pricing, always contact a local bee controller who surveys your property and provides quotes. Usually, their survey costs an additional £100, in addition to the removal fee, of around £50/hr. Use the form on this page to find a suitable contractor.
Bee Removal Price-Factor Considerations
Several factors affect the cost of bee colony removal, and you should consider these factors when researching a quotation.
Bee Removal Service
There are three services available, each having its price range. For example, live bee swarm removal costs from £50-£200, live bee and honeycomb removal and relocation cost £100-£1,000, and bee extermination costs £50-£200. All fees depend on nest location, colony size and other factors.
Different infestation levels determine the amount of labour and resources you need for the job. Most bee types in the UK don’t make large nests in our homes. But, honeybees, which do, take a long time and build their nests gradually. Generally, it’s easier to remove small nests compared to large nests.
The nest’s location significantly affects the amount of labour and the method involved in getting rid of bees. For instance, access to a chimney requires scaffolding or cherry picker hire, in addition to the bee removal fee of £100-£200. In contrast, a nest in an outbuilding or a tree in the garden is the easiest to remove, around £50-£100.
All reputable bee removal companies will do a separate survey before the removal operation. The survey determines the extent of the infestation, its location and any other problems the controller needs to consider. Generally, bee surveys cost around £100 and provide a report you can use with most bee removal companies.
Sometimes, if the bees are within a cavity wall, the brickwork or timber frame must be partially removed to access the nest and honeycomb. Then, repairing the damage caused when removing a bee infestation can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds, especially if the nest tangles around structural supports, electrical wiring or plumbing. The nest removal cost depends on its size and type of wall. This, in turn, affects whether you access the nest from inside or outside the building. Typically, in the worst case, homeowners can pay up to £3,000 for repairs.
Type Of Removal Specialist
The best way to remove the infestation is to relocate the nest and bees to another, more appropriate location without harming the bees.
There are two ways of doing this.
- Beekeepers often remove nests and relocate them into one of their hives. Usually, this is free of charge or a nominal amount.
- Bee removal specialists have the expertise to remove nests from difficult locations where an uninsured beekeeper might not. Typically, their costs range from £50-£1,000.
We’ve all heard of honeybees. But, did you know the UK has 25 native species of bumblebee and more than 240 native species of solitary bee? Generally, most of these don’t affect humans or their property and don’t need any control. In fact, if you see bumblebees living in holes in your house, leave them alone. They’re harmless and will leave in the autumn. Furthermore, bumblebees live singly or in colonies of less than 400 individuals, cause minimal damage, and are rarely aggressive. In contrast, honeybee swarms build a large nest of 20,000-60,000 bees, are often aggressive and cause problems if the nest is in an inconvenient location. Therefore, it’s essential to identify the bee species living in your home before calling a professional.
Where You Live
Labour rates vary around the UK, and prices for bee removal differ accordingly. Typically, expensive areas like London and southeast England have labour rates £4-£8/hr more than elsewhere in the country.
5 Signs Of Bee Infestations
Some signs show whether you have a bee infestation on your property. Take the time to observe what’s happening around you, and you can spot a potential bee nesting site.
1. Excessive Bees
Only you know how many bees typically fly around your garden. If this number suddenly increases, they might be building a nest or have already finished it. Then, you might find you have a bee infestation.
2. Angry Bees
With excessive bees come angry bees. You’ll notice them more distressed when trapped in your windows trying to get out. Bees are also territorial. So, they might think you’re a predator and try to attack or sting.
3. Nest Building
Sometimes, you’ll notice a few bees flying to and from a specific place in your house or garden. It might be a hole in the roofline fascia board, an outbuilding or a tree trunk. Usually, these scouts prepare a nest for the queen and her colony.
4. Dark Patches On Surfaces
Honeybees leave a residue from collected nectar and produced honey on walls, ceilings, and other surfaces.
5. What Next?
These situations suggest the existence of a bee nest. Therefore, it’s now up to you to track it down. If you don’t, things will only get worse. Suppose you don’t have pets or children. You might decide that a nest in a nearby hollow tree is okay. After all, they must nest somewhere, and a tree is a natural habitat for bees. However, if left for a long time, you’ll notice more bees flying to and from the nest.
If you have inquisitive children, and pets that snap at insects, such as cats and dogs, there’s more chance of bee sting injuries. You might take this chance, deciding it’s a beneficial learning experience. Alternatively, your child might be allergic to bee stings, which can cause anaphylactic shock and sometimes death. Also, vet bills are expensive too. Therefore, it’s best to remove the nest.
Follow the bees around your property and see where they congregate. Sometimes, the nest is apparent, especially if the colony is already established. Other times, the nest might be more discrete and almost invisible such as a colony living inside a wall or roof. Contact a beekeeper or exterminator for more advice after finding the most likely place.
Bees don’t currently have protection in the UK, so it’s legal for anyone to kill or relocate them. However, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) advises the UK government on nature conservation. They produce the continually updated UK Biodiversity Action Plan, which identifies the flora and fauna and their habitats that are of conservation concern. Although honeybees don’t currently appear in the report, many other species of Hymenoptera (bees and their close relations, wasps and ants) do. And it’s important not to confuse honeybees for a protected species.
Strict regulations cover using poisons such as insecticides containing carbamate, effective against bees and other insects. The National Bee Unit provides a website detailing all the bee-based legislation. Additionally, different regulations and legislation cover interaction with honeybees, their nests and the removal methods:
- Biocidal Product Regulations 2001/2007– bans marketing or selling biocidal products without authorisation.
- Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986/1997 – restricts storing, selling, or supplying pesticides. It also protects human health and the environment when using pesticides.
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations – deals with the storage, handling and use of controlled chemicals in the workplace.
- Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 – protects humans and the environment against the adverse effects of pesticides.
- Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – is the main piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety, setting out responsibilities employers have towards employees and the public, and employees have towards themselves and colleagues. This includes self-employed people.
- Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – specifies the management processes and procedures necessary to comply with the Health & Safety at Work Regulations.
8 Common Bee Removal Methods UK
Before removing bees, there are a few things to remember. Otherwise, the job might be difficult and downright painful.
1. Wear The Correct Clothes
Some people are lucky and don’t need protection from bee stings. But, they are few and far between. So, most people cover themselves from head to foot in proper beekeeper clothes.
- Gloves – Don’t use ordinary gardening gloves, as the bee stings will go straight through the fabric or plastic. Instead, use thick leather gloves or those made from a material designed for bee work.
- Veil – A beekeeper’s veil prevents bees from buzzing around your face, ears, nose, mouth and hair. It also seals the gap around the suit’s collar, where bees get trapped.
- Suit – This is a one-piece suit with elasticated wrist and ankle cuffs. The design ensures there’s nowhere for bees to become trapped and sting in self-defence.
- Boots – Rubber wellington style boots tucked inside the suit’s legs and sealed with elasticated ankle cuffs.
- Perfume – DON’T wear perfume or anything aromatic as some scents affect how the bees react and make them aggressive.
2. Bee Type?
There are many bee types, and not all form nests like honeybees. Bumblebees don’t build large colonies like honeybees. Usually, singly or only 50-400 individuals in a nest. So, dealing with this species is much easier than with honeybee colonies numbering thousands of individuals. Therefore, always identify the bee species before starting.
3. Daytime Or Nighttime?
Generally, at nightfall, every bee will be resting in the nest. Therefore, it’s easier to do the work after dusk. However, this isn’t always possible, especially with contractors.
4. Removing The Bees
There are professional and amateur methods for bee removal; the following list shows the most common, but there are many more.
The best way to remove bees is to relocate their nest to a new site. Typically, this involves moving the nest, queen and the colony en-masse. Sometimes, many thousands of bees are angry at being disturbed, so be careful.
Burning wood shavings, cardboard and paper under the nest triggers a natural response making the bees leave the nest to find another. Remember, burning materials like these might be contrary to the local regulations. So, check with your local council first if there are limitations on producing smoke. And, even if allowed, check that your neighbours aren’t drying clothes outdoors or having a summer outdoor party.
Bees use their sense of smell more than any other sense. Therefore, overpowering pungeant aromas will disorientate them. So, crush a few garlic cloves in water and regularly spray the mixture onto and around the nest. The bees will eventually leave the nest and find another location.
People use citronella to discourage mosquitos. But, you can also use it against bees. Bees have an acute sense of smell, so lighting citronella candles near a bee nest will harmlessly drive them away. Keep a few candles burning for several days for the scent to have any effect. However, this method involves open flames, so ensure there’s nothing flammable nearby.
5. Local Beekeepers
Many local beekeepers search for another colony to add to their hives. Furthermore, most of them won’t charge you for removal. But, if they damage your property during removal, you will be responsible for the repairs.
6. Professional Methods
Professional pest removers have insecticides, methods, equipment and skills unavailable to the ordinary person. Therefore, for a quick and efficient operation, hire a professional. They will give you a quote and usually include costings to repair the damage done during the nest removal.
Selecting A Bee Removal Contractor
There are three options to find a nest or swarm on your property:
Leave It Alone?
Leave the nest alone; it’ll get larger, and you’ll notice more bees flying around your home and garden. Then, they’ll become a nuisance with more chance of using their sting. Eventually, when the colony moves on or dies, it leaves behind the honeycomb, attracting wasps and ants. These are okay in the wild but usually unpleasant if allowed in the house. If you’ve poisoned the bees but not removed the nest, other bees might steal the poisoned honey and spread it among the local benign bee population.
Find A Beekeeper
Beekeepers have hives on their property where they keep bees to produce honey. They’re usually amateur, but occasionally professional. Most beekeepers will remove the colony and its nest to an awaiting hive without charge. However, you must repair any damage caused to your home during removal.
Reputable beekeepers don’t usually have formal qualifications, so don’t expect any. However, they typically belong to the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA). The BBKA’s website has information on bee species identification, finding a swarm removal volunteer, and advice on bee swarms found in your property’s structure. Choose someone from this category if you want a swarm or nest removed without harming the bees.
Pest Control Companies
Removing a nest or swarm must be done as efficiently and humanely as possible. Therefore, only use a professional pest controller belonging to the British Pest Control Association (BPCA). All BPCA members are certified by the strict membership criteria as fully trained, insured and reputable. BPCA members also do one of the following:
- Repair property damage caused after nest removal.
- Use a qualified local builder to do the repairs.
- Or, they’ll recommend a builder.
The BPCA provides basic and advanced training courses designed for the type of pest the exterminator specialises in. Also, they train in general workplace safety, working at height, and The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations.
Ask for other information from your bee remover:
- Are there personal references from previous customers?
- How long has the contractor been removing bees?
- Do they have employees? If so, are the employees qualified?
- Although BPCA members have insurance, check the policy to ensure it’s still valid.
Can Bees Be Left In Walls?
Honeybees living within a property’s walls don’t cause structural damage, but the honeycomb will melt when the bees aren’t there. Then melted wax and honey contaminates the walls, external cladding and insulation. Furthermore, the honey attracts other pests such as wasps, ants and rats, which cause structural damage or are a human health and hygiene problem.
What Smells Do Bees Hate?
Bees have an acute sense of smell and stay away from many naturally occurring aromatic substances, which either repel or irritate bees. The most common substances are:
- Lavender oil
- Citrus fruits
- Cayenne pepper
- Peppermint oil
- Red geraniums
- Red marigolds
- Soap solution
- Distilled vinegar
Methods of applying these substances will vary. Also, don’t confuse these aromatic substances with some of the plant’s blooms. For example, bees love lavender flowers but dislike the smell of lavender oil as it’s too concentrated.
Bees are generally beneficial to humans. Many don’t sting, and those that do only sting when threatened. Also, honeybees provide a much sought-after foodstuff, honey. However, large colonies of bees can cause problems, especially when nesting inside cavity walls or a loft. In these situations, you should contact a qualified pest controller or a beekeeper from the British Beekeepers Association, who will remove the nest.
Complete the form on this page, and you’ll receive up to four bee removal quotations from local reputable and trained contractors.