There are over one hundred species of bees in California, and not all our calls are for honey bees. Today I got a call from a customer with bees living in his bird house. Upon arrival he informed me that the bees seemed to be very large, and that he needed them removed for his upcoming party. I went around to the back yard and saw that he had a full colony of bumblebees buzzing in and out of the birdhouse. Bumblebees and honey bees appear very similar, but are very different in terms of pest control. Bumble bees do not make honey, or have extremely large colonies like honey bees do, so they can’t be coaxed into a box like honey bees. They also have a short lifespan, usually ranging around three months. By comparison honey bee colonies can live decades.
Typically I don’t remove bumblebees. As a beekeeper they do nothing to help my numbers or population grow. When the home owner informed me he would have to spray them, I made the executive decision to save the bees anyways. Bumble bee stings are not like honey bees. Bumble bees can sting more than once, and they can be much more aggressive than honey bees are. Their stingers are also longer than honey bees, so the bee suits do not protect us as well as they normally do. Despite all this, I put tape over the entrance of the colony, and carefully took the entire birdhouse with me out to my apiary. I am now the proud new owner of a very small, old birdhouse, and a very large colony of bumble bees!