Bee Info

HoneyBee Stings and Stinger Removal
A bee stinger is one of nature's little wonders. After a honeybee stings you and deposits its stinger, the stinger continues to pump venom into you for up to twenty minutes. A self contained unit, the stinger has a barb to pierce the skin, a venom sac to hold the stuff that stings you, and a set of muscles to push the barb and venom deeper into your skin. It even has a pheromone that attracts other bees to you.
Swift removal of the stinger is preferred to a more careful removal that takes even 5 seconds longer. Unfortunately, no matter how fast you act, getting stung will always be painful.
Immediately after removal of the stinger, apply an ice cube for several minutes afterwards and dab the site with a meat tenderizer that contains Papua. Itching usually occurs and can be controlled with an antihistamine.
Of course, its better to avoid getting stung in the first place! When many potential sting victims see a bee fly near them, they start swatting at it. Oddly enough, the bee interprets this action as aggressive behavior, if it gets a chance, it'll probably sting. Instead, try letting the bee fly around you (yes, even land on you) and you'll watch it fly away within ten seconds.
Try it- - -you'll be amazed how well it works. It takes some self control, but the pay-off is immediate and satisfying.
Honey bee swarms are one of the most beautiful and interesting phenomena in nature. A swarm starting to issue is a thrilling sight. A swarm may contain from 1,500 to 30,000 bees including, workers, drones, and a Queen.Swarming is an instinctive part of the annual life cycle of a honey bee colony. It provides a mechanism for the colony to reproduce itself. 

When the Honeybee Colony becomes crowded with adult bees and there are insufficient cells in which the Queen can lay large numbers of eggs, the worker bees select a dozen or so tiny larvae that would otherwise develop into worker bees. These larvae are fed copiously with royal jelly, produced by certain brood-food glands in the heads of worker bees. The cells in which the larvae is developing is drawn out downward and enlarged to permit development of the queens. Shortly before these virgin queens emerge as adults from the queen cells, the mother queen departs from the beehive with the swarm. Swarming usually occurs during the middle of a warm day, when the queen and approximately half of the worker bees (usually from 15000 to 25000) suddenly swirl out of the hive and into the air. After a few minutes flight, the queen alights, usually on a branch of a tree but sometimes on a roof, a parked automobile, or even a fire hydrant. All the bees settle into a tight cluster around her while a handful of scouts leave looking for a new place to live. When the scout bees have located a new domicile, the cluster breaks, the swarm takes to the air and in a swirling mass proceed to the new home. Swarming is natures way of assuring the continuation of the species.  

Overcrowding and congestion in the nest are factors which predispose colonies to swarm. The presence of an old queen and a mild winter also contribute to the development of the swarming impulse. Swarming can be controlled by a skilled beekeeper; however, not all colonies live in hives and have a human caretaker.

The tendency to swarm is usually greatest when bees increase their population rapidly in spring, usually from March to May in the panhandle of Florida. Honey bees exhibit defensive behavior only in the vicinity of their nest. Swarms has neither young nor food stores and will not exhibit defensive behavior unless unduly provoked.

When honey bees swarm they will settle on a tree limb, bush, or other convenient site. The cohesiveness of the swarm is due to their attraction to a pheromone produced by the queen. The swarm will send out scout bees to seek a cavity to nest in and will move on when a suitable nesting site is found. Rarely, swarms may build comb in the open if a suitable cavity cannot be found. Contact your local Beekeepers Association for swarm removal. Honey bees are cavity nesters and will seek a cavity of at least 15 liters of storage space. Hollow trees are preferred nesting sites. Occasionally, bees will nest in the cavities of man-make structures. Honey bees are beneficial pollinators and should be left alone and appreciated unless their nest are in conflict with human activity. If honey bees nest in the walls of a home, they can be removed or killed if necessary; however, it is advisable to open the area and remove the honey and combs or rodents and insects will be attracted. Also, without bees to control the temperature, the wax may melt and honey drip from the combs. After removal, the cavity should be filled with foam insulation as the nest odor will be attractive to future swarms. You may want to seek the assistance of a professional beekeeper or exterminator. Nests should be removed promptly from problem sites. After several months, they may have stored a considerable amount of honey. You can prevent swarms from nesting in walls by preventive maintenance. Honey bees will not make an entrance to a nest. They look for an existing entrance, so periodic inspection and caulking is all that is necessary to prevent them from occupying spaces in walls.

Doc Bullard


Brief Summary of Florida Apiary Inspection Law

Chapter 586, Florida Statutes, Rule Chapter 5B-54


The honeybee industry of Florida is of major importance in the pollination of various agricultural crops and in the production of high quality honey and honeybee products. Honeybee pests and unwanted races of honeybees which threaten this important industry must be regulated. To accomplish this, the Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection must register and inspect honeybee colonies in order to certify them as meeting the requirements of freedom or substantial freedom from honeybee pests of regulatory significance and freedom from unwanted races of honeybees. Therefore, the following is required by law, Chapter 586, Florida Statutes, and Rule Chapter 5B-54, Florida Administrative Code, to assist in the protection of the apiary industry.

Registration: Each beekeeper having honeybee colonies with the state must register with the Department using application form DACS-08176 which will be completed at the time of the initial inspection. Upon approval of the application, the Department will issue to the beekeeper a Certificate of Beekeeping Registration. This certificate must be renewed annually on or prior to the anniversary date of the certificate.Effective November 3, 1992, each application for registration or renewal of registration (DACS-08176) must be accompanied by the proper registration fee based on the total number of colonies operated by the registrant as follows:

# of Colonies
    501 +

The penalty fee for late payments shall be $10.00. The law makes no provision for exemption from payment of this fee due to a person's disability or age. The certificate of registration must be renewed before the expiration date.Fees for special inspection services may vary depending on the service requested. For further information contact: The Apiary Inspection Section at (352) 372-3505 extension 114.

Inspection: Each apiary shall be inspected by the Department at such intervals as the Department deems best for the detection of honeybee pests and unwanted races of honeybees.All apiaries must have been inspection within 12 months of the registration renewal date.

Inspection Conditions: Each apiary site shall be maintained in such a manner as to allow reasonable access for inspection. All hives must have movable frames.

Identification of Honeybee Hives: All honeybee hives must be permanently imprinted on the upper left hand corner in letters at least ½ inch in height with the beekeeper's registration number issued by the Department. Beekeepers with honeybee hives branded with a numerical or alphabetical code before November 22, 1988, shall not be required to rebrand with the registration number, provided the existing brand is registered with the Department. This number may be applied with paint, permanent ink marker or legible permanent marking method.

Certificate of Inspection: A certificate is required:

  • On each sale or movement of honeybees within the state unless the hives are branded with the beekeeper's registration number
  • On all out-of-state movements there will be a $25 fee per certificate issued, or special inspection made plus mileage.
  • On all shipments moving into Florida from outside the state. This certificate is to be issued by the state of origin.

Quarantine and Destruction or Treatment of Infested Hives:

  • All hives found infested with American Foulbrood disease shall be destroyed by burning. Other hives in the bee yard shall be quarantined for a minimum of 30 days. Compensation shall be paid at ½ the estimated equipment value, not to exceed $30.00 for the first 10 hives, after which payment will be discounted if the disease rate exceeds 50 percent of the total colony inventory, payment will be discounted 50 percent.
  • Hives infested with other related honeybee pests and any unwanted races of honeybees shall
    be quarantined and treated as prescribed by the Department. No compensation will be awarded for such action.

Abandoned Apiaries: Any apiary found without proper identification or registration information shall be considered abandoned. Following a reasonable effort to contact the owner, the Department shall dispose of such equipment following guidelines detailed in Rule 5B-54, Florida Administrative Code.

Penalties: Any person who violates the provisions of Chapter 586, Florida States, or rules adopted thereunder shall for the first offense be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, and upon a second or subsequent conviction thereof shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree. The Department may, after notice and hearing, impose a fine not exceeding $5,000 for the violation of any of the provisions of this law or rules thereunder.FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, CONTACT THE ASSISTANT CHIEF, G. W. HAYES, JR., APIARY INSPECTION SECTION, DIVISION OF PLANT INDUSTRY, POST OFFICE BOX 147100, GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA 32614-7100, (352) 372-3505, EXTENSIONS 114,128 OR 421 OR FAX (352) 334-0715 OR E-MAIL Revised 10/20/04