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Brushing bees is a Crime


I have kept bees for over 30 years and I see some post in the forum talking about brushing their bees!!!
Never ever use a brush on yr bees to remove them from a frame.
A short sharp drop and stop motion will remove most of the bees from the frame.
Brushing causes injuries and death to yr bees.


Totally agree with you, but I can’t train my husband. :blush: I always shake, and can get more than 95% of bees of a frame doing that. I sometimes blow on them to check for queen cells, but I hate doing that too, as I know it distresses and angers them.

Meanwhile I just rush to shake the bees off before my husband can find the brush that I have carefully hidden… :wink:


It’s that last 5% that is the problem.

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5% is a very small loss compared too 1000s damaged using a brush!!! I helped a friend a few weeks back we extracted honey from his hives the bees left on his frames were happy to leave when we were in the shed and they went out into sun light.
Sorry everyone I joined this forum to study flow hive frames and if they are an advantage to me , I now find Im giving advice to new Apiarists which Im happy to give and help but not my primary goal :slight_smile:


Gee I’m glad I happened to check this post out. As a relatively newbie I was thinking about getting a brush but thanks to you guys I’m not going to now. The fewer fatalities the better. Save the bees!


I’ll be the dis-agree 'er but only when grafting for queens: I hate the brush but…

When grafting for queens absolutely use a brush to remove the bees from the frame. Shaking can dislodge/flip/upset the tiny day old larva. So even when not grafting, shaking the frame may be killing some baby bees. Also, if there are recently capped queen cells (day 10-12) one must be very careful because the queens can be damaged from shaking.

I’ve never seen a dead or injured bee after brushing: Angry on the otherhand lol


I agree with you Ed. I don’t use a bee brush. I bought one when I first started out, as ya do. I used it a couple of times & that was it. However I agree about brushes not killing bees, or I can’t imaging a brush killing bees if used properly. Bees are fairly hardy little things. Not like our little Tetragonulas, they squash easy.

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I don’t agree…

I use a brush- but only in a limited fashion. When you shake a frame over 90% of the bees fall off- but- 10% remain. Some of the remaining bees will be inside cells- others just have a very strong grip…

If I am removing honey frames for extraction and I need to clear the bees off- I shake the frame mutiple times. Then I take my brush- and very carefully- only flicking the bees with the very tips of the brush hairs I coax the remiaing bees off- every last one of them. It does not kill them- it just tickles them and tells them it’s time to go. If a bee is inside a cell- a few light brushes will make it back up and come out- whre it an be shaken off or lightly brushed away.

If I am taking frames away from a hive I am careful to remove every last bee- when I spin frames I have virtually no dead bees caught in the strainer afterwards- unlike many commercial operations were innumerable bees get killed during harvesting.

I have seen videos where people just roughly brush off all the bees holus bolus- rolling them in the process- and I have seen beekeepers use leaf blowers to blast bees out of supers. This is nothing like that. For me the brush is an excellent tool and used appropriately I find it indispesible.

I have also seen people using the wrong type of brush- you need to have a good one with super soft bristles.

I think you know you are using the brush correctly if it does not anger the bees- if you brush too vigorously- then the bees immediately- and justifiably- get pissed off . However with gentle brushing used sparingly- there is no signs of anger from the bees- which says to me it’s OK.

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Hi Jack, in relation to the commercial operators, it must be remembered that bees are their livelihood, so it wouldn’t be in their best interest to let too many bees die during harvesting. There probably needs to be a balance between killing no bees at all & working very slowly & killing lots of bees & working very fast. As a semi commercial operator (with 50 hives) myself, I try to minimize bee deaths, however there’s always some bee deaths in my efforts to get the job done in reasonable time. You would probably cry if you came robbing with me :slight_smile:


jeff- I wasn’t having a go at the commercial beekeepers- when you have dozens/hundreds of hives to rob- it’s not feasible to sit around carefully brushing each and every bee of every frame. You’d never get anywhere. Dealign with hundreds of boxes at times leave little room for an excess of sentiment. Also sometimes trying to work slow- or being overly carefull- can actually be counterproductive and cause you to cause more harm. Sometimes speed is better. It’s all a balance.

As I am only workign a few hives at a time- I can afford to use my brush carefully.

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I guess some might be doing something wrong, I first shake the frames to remove the bulk of the bees and then I use my brush and lightly brush the bees with the end of the bristles and most simply fly off. I haven’t seen an injured bee or killed any. One thing is a certainty, any bee that is not brushed will die in transportation and storage of frames in my kitchen, I will continue with the way I do it to minimize harming the bees and if brushing is done slow and gently no harm will be done.


Yeah, I agree. My parents do use a brush but they take so much care to not hurt them. Some might look at bees with profit in their mind and hence they take care of the bees but for my parents, harvesting bees is something they have been doing for a long time. Hence, hurting anyone of them would be like losing your pet. :blush:

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