Tuesday, June 22, 2010

An Easy Hive Cutout

I got a call a couple weeks ago from a very nice lady named Kim, who said a newly formed hive over her garage was becoming quite the tourist attraction in her neighborhood. She felt the hive needed to be removed, but was quite adamant about keeping the bees alive in the process. I assured her I could and would. I've started to shy away from cutouts, as I'm finding only about a 50% success rate in terms of the bees staying in their relocated home, but Kim's hive was very accessible and I was so impressed with her concern for the bees, I decided to do this one.

Here's what the hive looked like:

I set up a ladder and a makeshift platform to hold my homemade bee vacuum:

Then, I started vacuuming bees from the comb:

As I removed a majority of bees from each comb, I'd slice them from the stucco using my hive tool. Then I vacuumed off any leftover bees on each comb, and put the comb into a covered bucket.

The activity drew quite a crowd in the neighborhood, so I took the opportunity to give a little bee education to the kids, and let them taste some honey fresh from the comb. Note the amount of capped brood on the comb; I was actually able to show the kids all stages of larva and even some emerging bees.

Once I got all the comb cut away, I had to chase after the holdouts inside the light fixture that was hidden under the hive. I didn't want to miss the queen, and I was worried she might have skedaddled up into a hiding place in the fixture.

It was nearly dark by the time I finished, so I left the vacuum box filled with bees in my truck until morning. Bright and early I rubber-banded most of the comb into frames, loaded the frames into a nuc, and took the nuc and bees over to the Las Flores Community Garden in Thousand Oaks where I have another hive. That's where I opened up the vacuum box and shook them into the nuc. Here's their new home:

Notice the tin pie pans under each leg of the hive stand? I had to put those there because the very first night this poor hive was inundated with ants. So, I put oil (it's an organic garden, so I used corn oil, although at home I often use old motor oil) into the pans, and the ants can't access the hive. All's well; it appears I definitely got the queen, because they're doing fine, bringing in pollen and doing all the regular bee stuff.

I'll end this post with a look at an absolutely humongous hive that I declined to remove. I would have needed three of the vacuums I have at least, and the comb was gigantic. Weird to see it completely exposed in a tree about 15 feet off the ground, but that's where it was. Here's a look; hope the size translates in these photos...

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