Recently PCT Online ran a page promoting a new DVD called "Swarm Plus" from an Ohio PMP and beekeeper named Dave Duncan. I was curious about the quality and content of the video, because of a bee control training I conducted several years ago and the healthy demand for bee control services in our area.
Anyone can visit the site and view the excerpts online. The videos appear to be well made and very professional looking. Some of the bee footage even verges on spectacular. However, I was a little uneasy about some of the content, at least for Texas honey bees; so I asked a couple of beekeepers experienced in bee removals what they thought.
Janet Roe and John Talbert of the Collin County (Texas) Beekeepers Association were both concerned that the fellow was a little too cavalier with his protective gear. "We agreed that neither of us would ever pick up a swarm without our hoods on, but [climbing] up a shaky ladder with a fish net? ...nutty," they said.
One thing that surprized all of us was a section where the beekeepers remove an indoor wall with a large nest on the other side. In the segment, two people are using a pry bar to peel the wall away from the hive while wearing no protective gear. You should never do something like that in our state according to my experts.
"We decided he had to be way far north of any "mean" bees," Janet said. After a few years of watching the Africanized honey bee make its way across the state, beekeepers in our part of the country do not assume bees will be gentle, especially when handling brood boxes or opening up their nest cavity. John said he never allows anyone in his beeyard without at least head gear. And the behaviour of the bees throughout the video was much different that the bees we typically encounter.
John and Janet had some other technical criticisms about super frames and brood box frames (I love it when they talk technical) that went over my head, but I was relieved to know that I wasn't the only one who thought the video bees were way too tame.
To be fair, I haven't purchased and viewed the SwarmPlus DVD. I'm sure it has a lot of potentially helpful information. I also believe that the pest control industry needs more quality training materials in bee and wasp control. Finding a professional who is experienced in removing and controlling bees is difficult in many areas. I single out Mr. Duncan's product not to criticize, but as an example that we should evaluate all training materials we read or view (especially on the Internet) with a critical eye.
In the case of this product, I would encourage PMPs who are thinking about getting a copy to find a local beekeeper or PMP with experience with bees that you trust and asking them to review the video with you. And if you decide to try some of the activities in this product, wear a full bee suit--especially on a ladder and even if you're not in the land of Africanized honey bees.