Last Wednesday, Bill Owens, Georgia's only Master Craftsman Beekeeper (the highest rank you can attain) spoke to our club about his bee removal business. Bill is a great communicator and an entertaining speaker. I enjoyed his talk a lot, although I will not, being constructionally challenged to the max, be doing bee removals from structures.
Bill talked about the importance of customer relations - a job at which I am sure he is spectacular - and the importance of educating the public about the difference between bees and hornets. One thing he said that surprised me is that it is an easier removal if the cutting into the structure takes place inside the house rather than outside. He said bees in the house are much more easily moved into a container than those outside who seem much more upset by the process.
He shared a list of the tools and equipment he carries to a hive removal. He doesn't list it but he also has in his kit a cookie sheet with a long handle attached. He uses that to slide under a mass of bees in narrow spaces!
Bill stayed afterward to answer questions about what's going on in the bee yard. Interestingly he spoke about feeding the bees. Bill doesn't use any chemicals in his 60 or so hives, and he rarely feeds the bees. He said spring feeding is stimulative feeding and who are we to determine when the hive needs to be at its peak. So he sees no point in taking the risk of stimulating the hive to grow rapidly and then finding out that it was wrong timing.
If he feeds a hive going into winter, then something is wrong or the hive would have enough stores. So he works for healthy hives and not for hives that need his assistance through sugar syrup.