Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Free Bees!

On Saturday I got a call from a neighbor who was having some tree trimming done. Seems midway through one cut the guy sliced into a hive, and bailed out of the tree post-haste (leaving his chainsaw imbedded in the tree).

Anyway, Mike gave me a call for help, and I headed over. It was WAYYY up high, so I climbed up the biggest ladder I've got and sawed through the rest of the trunk while Mike supposedly belayed from below. This shot might give you an idea of the size of this thing:

Actually, I guess it doesn't. Trust me, this was Paul Bunyon territory. The hive entrance is that huge knot on the left. Anyway, when I cut it through the damn thing swung around like a battering ram. I ducked close to the ladder so it missed my head, but it gave me a good whack on the shoulder. Didn't knock me off the ladder, fortunately.

So we lowered it to the ground, I stapled hardware cloth over the openings, and three of us lifted it into my truck. When I got home I just rolled into an empty field next door and pushed the thing out. I pulled the hardware cloth off the openings, and when I last checked the hive is doing fine in their newly mobile home.

And then today...

I got a call from a homeowner with a "swarm" in their utility closet--- you know, the outside closet where the electric meter and the fusebox live. Here are a couple shots:

I grabbed a cardboard box and put it under the cluster, and then used a drywall knife to scrape along the ceiling, the idea being to dislodge the cluster. Only it turns out this wasn't a swarm, but a new hive with three or four combs started! I sliced right through the comb, dropping the entire mess into the box. With no other idea, I simply poured the whole thing, comb and all, into a nuc, and added some frames. I repeated the process several times to continue to remove clustering bees, but I could tell from the fanning activity at the nuc that I'd captured the queen on the first try.

So, I got as many bees as I could and then closed up the nuc, stuck it in my car, and took them home. Here they are on their temporary stand in one of my beeyards:

And finally... one that I let get away. This was a call from the Simi Valley Police Dept regarding a hive that supposedly had bothered some kids. Here's what I found at the end of a cul de sac:

I told them it was not something I wanted to deal with. for one thing, ground-based hives have a better chance of being Africanized, making them more aggressive. For another, I would have needed a city employee to open the manhole cover, and I would have had to bring a generator to power the bee-vac in order to get all the bees.

I also turned down a call to get two hives out of a guy's attic. The idea of laying on my stomach in a hot attic in my beesuit with the (loud) bee-vac going for an hour next to my head was just not very appealing.

But I keep getting one or two calls a day, mostly due to the flier I gave the Ventura County Fire Dept. Tomorrow afternoon I go to Simi Valley again, this time to pick up a wine barrel with a hive inside. The homeowner said I could take the barrel, so this'll be an easy one.


  1. sounds like you are going to have to have a few out apiaries at the end of this season! Congrats on getting so many swarm calls. I have had one and it happened when I was out of town for 3 days when they called my cell.

  2. Yes, in fact I just relocated 4 hives to another ranch! Been getting at least a call a day for the past week or so; sometimes the swarm already took off before I could get there, but I got four in the past week! Next post will have pix and details.