Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

I felt guilty. Should I have?

The other day I got a phone call about thousands of bees that moved into under the cover of a spa bath. It wasn’t far away, so I thought I could go & grab them. Then the bloke asked about a fee. I plucked $120.00 out of the air & said $120.00. He said that’ll be fine.

I went down at the agreed time of 10 am to discover that the bees had gone through gaps in the corners & were all under the corner. After removing two side panels, the colony was revealed, however difficult to reach & see without getting on hands & knees & sticking ones head in without the veil. I was able to take a nice photo with the owner’s tablet.

I was able to rig up something to support a frame of brood which I pushed on it’s end into the bee mass, hoping the queen would climb onto it. I had a used brood box sitting outside containing 3 more frames with foundation.

I knew I was a bit premature, however I gently removed the brood frame covered with bees, dropping small clusters of bees onto the floor as I went, before placing it in the brood box before quickly putting the lid on. I was on my own at that stage because the family went out house hunting for an investment home.

I moved the brood box entrance as close as possible to the corner of the spa without touching it. As it turned out, first time was lucky, the queen must have moved onto the brood frame. After a couple of minutes the bees started walking in mass towards the brood box entrance, up from the floor & down from the top corner the bees used to enter the spa cavity. The bees just kept coming, & coming & coming. They kept coming, forming a sizable buildup of bees at the 2" entrance on the side because they couldn’t get in quickly enough.

At that point I felt safe to go home. I had previously arranged to go back before dark to pick them up, which I did. I went a bit earlier because I wanted to fill the box with frames to prevent the other frames from sliding. The roof was heavy & chock-a-block full of bees with the frames also covered in bees. I placed the other six frames before replacing the lid after letting a lot of the bees flow out of it like lava onto the frames.

The time between that & when the bees all went back in before dark was used answering the usual questions. Then I taped the lid & blocked the entrances before taking the hive to the truck. The mother-in-law came out with the $120.00, which I thanked her for.

Should I feel guilty? I did advise the owner to silicone all the gaps around the spa bath because the scout bees liked that spot above every other spot in the district, so therefore future scout bees might prefer it again. Maybe that tip in itself is worth $120.00

1 Like

I don’t see why you should feel guilty. That sounds like a perfect bee removal. Your fee was entirely fair. A good job done well. You deserve it. :wink:


Thanks Dawn, with your help I’m slowly coming around to not feeling guilty.

I just hope the owner takes my advice of sealing up the gaps. That would be a waste if I got another call next spring of another colony in the same place :slight_smile:

I’m looking forward to lifting the lid in a few days time to see how many frames they occupy. I suspect it will be every frame.


Don’t sell yourself short Jeff, you win some you lose some.
Not guilty your Honour.

1 Like

Thanks Skeggley. You certainly lose some, that’s for sure. Sometimes you go out after not asking for a fee to finish up asking yourself “why didn’t I ask for a fee?”. Things aren’t always as people describe.

There is nothing wrong with charging for you time and the expense you have gone to Jeff. A fair price for a job well done.
Great for you to make yourself available and thanks for posting the story for us. It might be worth after a day or two for a reminder phone call to close up the gaps or you will be back again some time.

1 Like

Hi Pete, thanks mate. Phoning him back to remind him is something I wont do, sorry to sound harsh. I explained it all to him while his mother-in-law was videoing. I explained how the scouts of the swarm chose that spot above all other spots, so therefore another group of scouts might do the same thing in the future. I also explained how the hive they swarmed from will rebuild & likely swarm again. He understood what I was talking about, so therefore if he forgets to block the gaps, it’ll be his fault if another colony moves in.

A suggestion @JeffH, in future say to the clients you are not paying $120 for an hour or two, you are paying for 40 years know-how and experience.


Hi & thank you Anthony. I agree, I don’t even know if the client had a problem with paying the fee. I just felt guilty receiving it after picking up such a large colony.

The frame of brood made the job easy, as it turned out. I don’t know what could have been done alternatively. Maybe a bee vac would have sucked them out. I don’t have one of those & I’m not really interested in owning one.

Sounds okay to me Jeff - it’s what you both agreed to?

How’s this for a story. Another client came to buy 4 brood frames with eggs from me on the weekend because his 4 hives suddenly went queenless. I still can’t get my head around 4 hives going queenless all at the same time.

He couldn’t see any eggs in the brood frames I passed him, they all had very young larvae, so I assumed they also contained eggs. So I told him I had some brood frames containing queen cells. “Oh yes that’ll be great”, was his reply. I proceeded to find brood frames containing queen cells under construction. Then he complained about the odd bee on them because they were going home in the car. Then he was concerned about the queen cells not being completed. I told him his bees will finish them off if they want a new queen. He said they want a new queen. Then he felt happy taking them.

All was well after that, except he got one sting :slight_smile:

Originally he wanted to swap frames, I refused that which I’m pleased about because fresh frames with extremely poorly fitted wax foundation was sitting on the floor of the back of his station wagon.

You should have charged more @JeffH. The pest company would have, and the bees would have been exterminated.

Money can’t buy your time and experience mate. Both parties agreed on the cost, and they happily paid.

Whilst you’re acquiring a ‘potential’ asset, you’re also taking on a risk with a swarm - disease, pest etc.

Thanks for sharing the experience. Would have made a wonderful youtube feed :blush:


Hey Jeff
Nicely done I say!
For my own learning, how long did you give that Queen to crawl on to the frame?

1 Like

Hi @BayoNat & thanks, I was on my own & possibly a bit impatient. Maybe I gave it 12-15 minutes, which I thought at the time was a little too short. I was prepared in my mind to have to do it more than once, however first time lucky. The queen will always gravitate to the brood eventually. I always take a frame with lots of open brood when collecting swarms. The nurse bees slip straight into feeding the brood in the majority of cases. Notice I said “majority of cases”. There is always an exception to the rule. In this case the bees had settled into the new location chosen by the scouts.

In a situation where you give a swarm a frame of brood, that may not work every time because the scouts might be right on the verge of deciding on a fantastic new location. In that case the colony will abandon the frame of brood to follow the scouts to the new location.

Thanks @fffffred , I would have asked for more if I had to travel further. I agree about the potential risk. I no longer feel guilty. You are correct it would have made a fantastic video with a constant stream of bees marching towards the entrance with dozens of bees fanning their scent out at the same time.

Hi @Freebee2, thanks. It was an agreed amount & the bloke was happy to pay.


No don’t feel guilty Jeff that’s a fair price, I just gave 3 established 9frame colonies to a local pro beekeeper as I’m getting more than I need, I asked him to replace the 27 frames and foundation with new ones for me and I felt a bit guilty…then I worked out the bees were worth around $900…didn’t feel guilty for long !



It is Spa bath, not spar.


I can relate to the queen-less hives Jeff, I had 3 hives go queen-less in a matter of a week maximum, no swarming, everything looked good in the hives, just a routine inspection of a half dozen hives and whamo, Capped brood but no eggs or larvae in three of the hives. No queen cells, nothing abnormal except no queens. Funny thing is that none of the three hives is making queen cells from the donated frames twice a week. This has been going on for 3 weeks now with them living off donated brood and eggs.
Think I’m going bald scratching my head over this one. :thinking:

Hi Olly, thanks for that :slight_smile: I still had time to change the spelling.

1 Like

Hi Pete, the strange thing with this bloke was that he has only 4 hives that all went queenless simultaneously. He had no other hives to grab a frame of brood from.

I know one thing: the frames I sold him will have the best looking comb in his apiary if the frames I saw with fresh foundation were anything to go by. Some wires weren’t even embedded into the wax. I recognized a bottom board he had came from that bloke in Yandina. He confirmed that he bought a bit of gear from him.

The bloke has been a few times to buy honey, I didn’t know that he kept bees.

In your case, I’d give each colony some frames full of emerging bees to boost the populations. They should eventually make a new queen.

It makes us realize that there’s always exceptions to the rules with beekeeping.

We had showers most of the night & it’s quite steady now.

cheers for now.

1 Like