Effective Strategies to Smoke Bees Out of Your Backyard Tree Safely

Ever found yourself in a sticky situation, staring at a tree buzzing with bees and wondering how to safely remove them? You’re not alone. Bees, while crucial for the environment, can be a real nuisance when they decide to call your backyard tree their home.

The good news? There’s a simple, age-old method that’s been used by beekeepers for centuries: smoking. That’s right, you can smoke bees out of a tree! But how does it work and what’s the best way to do it? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of bees and discover how you can use smoke to your advantage.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding bee behavior is the first step to safely smoke bees out of a tree. Bees settle in trees for shelter, safety and proximity to food & water sources. However, bees can get defensive when threatened.
  • Preparation is key for safety and efficiency. Essential equipment includes a bee smoker, protective bee suit, poker stick, and bee brush. Assess the bee species, pick optimal timing (early morning or late evening), devise a backup plan, and evacuate the area before starting.
  • Carefully analyze the situation before proceeding. Consider factors like the size of the nest, number of tree openings, and the weather conditions.
  • The smoking process involves lighting the smoker with dry pine needles or wood shavings, puffing smoke around the hive entrance, waiting intervals, and eventually sweeping remaining bees off the tree. Ensure to follow safety measures post-smoking.
  • Alternative methods to handle bees include professional relocation by experts or the use of natural repellents such as plants or essential oils. However, these methods are usually better suited as preventive measures rather than eviction methods.

Understanding Bee Behavior

To effectively smoke bees out of your tree, it’s crucial to have an understanding of bee behavior. This includes recognizing why bees settle in trees and the potential dangers that can occur when disturbing these beneficial insects.

Why Bees Settle in Trees

Trees present an attractive nesting spot for bees because they offer shelter and safety. Bees are drawn to trees with cavities, cracks, or bark with ample space that would serve as an ideal location for their hives. Their nest location is also determined by the proximity to sources of food and water. However, not all trees attract bees; certain species are more appealing than others due to the availability of flowers for nectar and pollen.

Dangers of Disturbing Bees

In your endeavor to remove bees from a tree, it’s important to address the potential hazards. Bees can react defensively when their hives are threatened, which can lead to swarming. This swarm response is a natural defense mechanism bees employ when they perceive a threat to their queen or colony, and can result in multiple, painful stings to humans. Therefore, great caution must be exercised when attempting to smoke bees out of a tree.

Preparing to Smoke Bees

By coming to grips with the deployment of smoke for bee removal, you’ve taken first crucial steps in safely managing bee activity. But before plunging into the smoking procedure, let’s break down important aspects you need to carefully prepare. There’re two crucial things to consider: Equipment and Safety Measures.

Equipment Needed to Safely Smoke Bees

Getting the right tools for the job enhances your efficiency in driving these buzzing dwellers out. Here’s a short list:

  • A Bee Smoker: This tool generates smoke and directs it where you need it. It’s the most basic yet crucial instrument.
  • Protective Bee Suit: Go for a full suit. It provides cover against potential bee stings, with a helmet and veil affixed for facial protection. See it as your own “bee armor.”
  • Poker Stick: You’ll use this tool, long enough to keep you at a safe distance, to agitate the bee nest if needed.
  • Bee Brush: It’s a soft brush designed to move bees without harming them. If there are stuck bees, you can gently bush them away.

Safety Measures Before Starting

Dealing with bees ain’t no picnic, but upholding safety reduces risks.

  • Assess the Bee Species: Remember, not all bees react the same to smoke. For instance, Africanized Honey Bees, also known as “killer bees,” show extreme aggressiveness when disturbed. Screen the type of bees before starting.
  • Time of the Day Matters: Early morning or late evening are the optimum times. During these periods, bees are less active, reducing the chances of swarm aggression.
  • Backup Plan: In case your smoke plan backfires (no pun intended), make sure you have a backup plan. It could be contacting pest control or local beekeepers.
  • Evacuate the Area: Be sure people and pets are clear from the buzzing battleground. Clearing a 15-foot radius around the tree ensures safety.

These measures, in tandem with the correct gear, equip you with a worthwhile foundation as you near the actual process of smoking bees from a tree.

Step-by-Step Guide to Smoking Bees Out

Once armed with the necessary items and precautions, it’s time to proceed with the targeted removal of bees using smoke.

Analyzing the Situation

Start by evaluating the bee activity around the tree. Pay close attention to the size of the nest, perchance it aids in estimating the number of bees present.

Additionally, note if the tree has multiple openings and consider the peculiarities of each one. For example, a wider opening gives more room to smoke the bees out but also presents more points of access for bees to return.

Finally, gather data on weather patterns. Remember, calm, predictable weather provides the best window for smoking bees. As an example, consider avoiding windy days, when smoke diffusion into the hive gets complicated, and rain can make the smoke ineffective by dampening it.

Techniques for Effective Smoking

You’ve ticked off most of the necessary prerequisites, and now it’s time to delve into the actual process of smoking out the bees.

  1. Lighting the smoker – Fuel your smoker with dry pine needles or wood shavings as they produce cool smoke that causes less stress to the bees. Once lit, give the smoker a few puffs to produce a thick cloud of smoke.
  2. Using the smoker – Puff smoke liberally around the entrance of the hive and the surrounding tree. This process calms the bees, making them less aggressive.
  3. Puffing and waiting – Proportion your puffs. Apply smoke for approximately 10 seconds, then wait for about 5 minutes before the next application. This gives the bees time to respond.
  4. Sweeping bees out – Once the majority of the bees have moved out, use a bee brush to gently sweep any remaining bees off the tree.
  5. Ensuring Safety Post-Smoking – After the bees have left the tree, follow your plan of action to safely remove or rehome the hive.

Each bee situation is unique, therefore, stay observant and adaptable during the process.

Alternative Methods to Handle Bees

After discussing smoking as a primary method of removing bees from trees, it’s essential to consider various alternatives. Two significant alternatives include professional relocation and the use of natural repellents.

Relocation by Professionals

Relocation by professionals serves as a safe alternative when handling bees. Numerous exterminators specialize exclusively in the removal and relocation of bee colonies. Equipped with advanced equipment, these specialists ensure the safe extraction of bees from trees. Over 3,000 insect control companies in the U.S alone cater to this particular service, with a high success rate of 98%.

They analyze the scope of the situation, taking factors such as the size of the hive, the aggressiveness of the bees, and the height and type of tree into consideration. The relocation process typically involves careful extraction of the honeycomb, securing the queen bee, and moving the colony to an apiary or a bee-friendly location. This approach retains the crucial role bees play in pollination, impacting positively on biodiversity.

Natural Repellents

Natural repellents, another suitable alternative, come with the benefit of non-toxicity to bees and the environment. Several plants like citronella, eucalyptus, and mint naturally repel bees, and planting these around your tree can deter their nesting. Essential oils from these plants, when mixed with water and sprayed around the nest, can also serve as an effective natural repellent.

However, natural repellents often work best as preventive measures, rather than eviction methods for established hives. Remember, bees contribute significantly to pollination, so keep your repelling measures safe and considerate, ensuring the continued well-being of these essential insects.


You’ve now got the know-how to tackle your bee problem. Smoking them out can be an effective method, but remember, it’s all about safety and preservation. If the task seems daunting or the hive is too large, don’t hesitate to call in the professionals. They’re equipped to handle these situations while ensuring the bees are relocated, not exterminated. Alternatively, you can prevent future nesting with natural repellents like citronella and eucalyptus. They’re non-toxic and bee-friendly. Whatever method you choose, always remember the crucial role bees play in our ecosystem. It’s not just about removing them, it’s about finding a balance that respects both your space and theirs.

Safely removing bees from a backyard tree involves several steps to ensure both your safety and the bees’ well-being. One effective method is to use a bee smoker to gently puff smoke near the entrance of the hive, as the smoke will encourage the bees to evacuate. This process should be done carefully, wearing protective gear, and may require repeating until all bees have left the tree, as explained by Plant4Harvest. Additionally, natural repellents like cinnamon and citronella can be used around the tree to prevent bees from returning, offering a bee-friendly solution to keep your space safe, as suggested by Bob Vila.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Can I use smoke to remove bees from trees in my backyard?

Yes, smoke is a safe and effective method to remove bees. It confuses bees and encourages them to leave the hive without harming them. However, it’s crucial to ensure the process is done in a careful manner to avoid agitating the bees.

Q2: What are the risks involved when disturbing bees in trees?

Disturbing bees can provoke them to defend their hive aggressively, resulting in bee stings that can cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals. Furthermore, it could also imperil the bees’ survival if done irresponsibly.

Q3: Are there professional services that can relocate the bees?

Yes, there are professional exterminators who specialize in bee relocation. They consider factors like hive size and bee aggressiveness for safe extraction, with emphasis on preserving bees for their crucial role in pollination.

Q4: What natural repellents can deter bees from nesting in my backyard?

Natural repellents such as citronella and eucalyptus can effectively deter bees from nesting in your backyard. They are non-toxic and thus promote the well-being of the bees while ensuring your space remains bee-free.

Q5: How can I apply a balanced approach to bee removal and conservation?

The balanced approach involves minimizing harm to the bees while controlling their presence. Consider using smoke or natural repellents, and if necessary, engage in professional services that prioritize bee preservation and not just their removal.