Live Bee Removal from Chimneys
The Mitchell Method
The Mitchell Method of bee extraction involves trapping the bees in the chimney apart from one exit hole which is connected to a tube. This then passes into the top of a bee box. The foraging bees leave the nest via the tube and enter the top of the box, they then pass through a one way bee gate into the main body of the box and are then free to fly. When they return from their shopping trip, they enter the box but cannot pass back through the gate to the nest in the chimney. The bees stay in the box, start to draw up comb and store the nectar and pollen there.
Every day more bees leave the chimney and end up in the box. As the food supply in the chimney starts to run out the queen stops laying eggs. When all the grubs have hatched, the queen and any remaining bees leave the chimney via the tube and are reunited with the colony in the box, where she starts laying eggs.
The chimney caps are currently being modified to include a cctv camera. This will enable the bee activity in the chimney to be easily monitored.
All that remains in the chimney is dry, empty comb which is easily removed.
A fresh swarm can usually be removed in a week but an established colony can take 6 to 10 weeks depending on the size of the food supply.
Bees can live in chimneys for many years and do not cause any structural damage. It is worth considering leaving them there if they are not causing a nuisance, as wild colonies are usually very healthy.