Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cupola Cutout

Well, in spite of the imminent threat of rain I headed over to Newbury Park today around 4:30PM to remove a hive that had ensconced itself in a cupola (an architectural flourish to add character to the roofline; in this case basically a little triangular projection above a window).

The homeowner, a former fire chief and a current carpenter, was a huge help. He built a platform for me to stand on, and had already removed all the nails from the sheeting on the front of the cupola. Plus, he had an extension ladder in place. So, all I needed was:

- The bee vacuum (see my log removal video to view this in action)
- Hive tool (for cutting away comb)
- Smoker and additional smoker fuel
- Bucket with a cover (for the comb)
- Veil and jacket
- Thick rubber gloves
- Flashlight

I pulled away the sheeting, and here's what I saw:

Here's a closer view. Doesn't look like too big a hive from here, does it?

Suffice to say there's more than meets the eye. The hive was six combs deep, with a good-sized population hiding away from me on the opposite side of each comb. I started by smoking them thoroughly, although I have to say that this was an extremely docile hive throughout the procedure, even when my smoker petered out due to user neglect :-)

Anyway, after smoking I started vacuuming, and as I cleaned each comb up I'd reach in, cut it free, and carefully transfer it into a bucket. Each comb had a good mix of capped and open brood of various ages. You can see the multi-colored pollen on that foremost comb in the photo above; there was also a decent amount of stored honey--- all in all, a very healthy hive.

When I finished, here's how it looked:

I hurried home with a boxful of bees and a bucket full of comb, trying to beat the oncoming darkness and rain to get these gals hived. I strapped their brood comb into frames, like this:

I added some regular frames of foundation, and got them hived just as the rains started. As I write this it's really coming down; wind is howling, and absolutely pouring. I know there were some stragglers when I hived them; I'm sure they got caught by the rain and probably didn't make it into the hive. I scooped as many as I could by hand and put them in, and I made sure I didn't see the queen wandering around anywhere before I closed them up. Hopefully she's in there; you never can tell with a cutout, because there are inevitably a number of "leftover" bees and plenty of casualties. I never actually saw her, but I was careful to vacuum any "glumps" of bees in particular, thinking that they may be crowding around the queen. Time will tell.

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