> I charge a minimum of $250.00
First, if the bees are in a house belonging to a landowner where I have bees, or a neighbour, and I feel in any way responsible, I don't charge. But, then, I don't always remove them either. In fact I almost never have had to in over a quarter century of keeping up to 4,000 hives. Most of my removals were when I was a small beekeeper and didn't know any better.
I cannot actually think of a case where anyone decided to have the house actually disassembled after we had a chat about how nice and mostly harmless such bees are, etc.
I explain how we have had up to a thousand hives in our own yard at times with honey customers and their kids coming and going -- and no mishaps.
If they tell me they are terrified of bees, I tell them I was too as a kid and had nightmares about wasps, but I got over it. Obviously.
If they tell me they are allergic, or their kids, I tell them that they are nuts not to get desensitized because it is a sure thing they will be stung out of the blue someday, somewhere when they don't have their kit along -- and, besides, the desensitization procedure is cheap (compared to dying) -- and there is no sense living in terror.
I also explain that needles and pills give a false sense of security. They only give you ten extra minutes until you are dead if you don't get to a hospital. That is if you are really that seriously allergic -- and most are not really, but who wants to find out for sure?
I also talk about the labour bill for carpentry and the potential damage to the building and the fact that such usually die out in winter and that if they are observant that they can just close up the hole when they are sure the bees are all gone and the honey has been robbed out in the spring before swarming time when the hole will likely attract a new swarm. (I've been really wrong about this and I had one house which threw a nice swarm every year for about ten years in early June. Guess who got the swarms which always landed nicely at eye level in the same tree.
If they still think they want to operate, I say I'll be glad to come and remove the bees when the carpenters are ready and even lend them protective gear and a smoker.
In the several cases where I have removed bees, I usually used homemade cone escapes and it worked -- sorta. It took longer and required more trips that initially expected. Sometimes the bees find an alternate route.
I used a Sawzall recently to remove an entire window filled with bees, but that was for my own entertainment. See more about that adventure at this site and subsequent pages.
If I weren't doing a removal out of a feeling of responsibility or friendship, I would charge a reasonable hourly rate and mileage.
Quote the maximum it might require for setting up, checking progress several times, taking everything away, and bringing a hive to rob the honey stash (if this is required so that honey does not go bad or melt in the wall), and to plug the hole(s).
People think a beekeeper gets honey and bees from the job and that this is worth something. Some even expect to be paid for the bees or honey recovered. So be sure to make this point clear: nothing is paid for any bees or honey recovered, although you may offer to share the honey with them. Usually the honey is a small quantity and handling it is a hassle. Usually removals are at a time of year when the bees are not really worth anything much to the beekeeper, and queens are often lost, etc. Offer to give them to the building owner if he still thinks they are worth something.
But above all, please remember: Beekeepers rely on the good will of the community more than many other occupations. We must always be ready to do public relations to protect our livelihood or hobby at all times. Removing bees is, for the beekeeper, a public obligation, so please be sure rates you charge are reasonable and your attitude is respectful and accommodating if you tell the prospects you are a beekeeper because your actions reflect on us all.
If you tell them you are in pest control, then I don't care what you charge.