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oldfatguy

Capturing a honey bee hive.

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Set out this morning (April 14, 2013) with Chris, Kyle and Katie from Hartman Reserve to relocate a hive of honey bees. They were located in a residential area in a garage wall. According to the owner, the hive had been there for 4-5 years.

 

On the back outside wall, there was a small hole that the bees used to enter the wall cavity.

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The inside of the garage was covered with OSB, which we unscrewed and removed.

 

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After removing the OSB, we first encountered the actual hive. There was a hole in the drywall.

 

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Traditionally, "smoking" is used to "calm" the bees. This does not really calm them. When they smell the smoke, they take that as a warning that fire is close to the hive and they may have to leave. The bees react by immediately gorging themselves on as much honey and pollen stored in the hive as they can hold.  They do become a bit more agitated but focus on eating.

 

Here is the smoker being filled with cedar wood chips.

 

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We actually found the "brood" section of the hive first and located the queen within the first 10 minutes.  We removed some of the drywall to expose more of the hive, then were able to get the queen into a bucket with some pieces of the hive and a number of bees.

 

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It is hard to see, but the queen is at the end of the feather.

 

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We were able to brush the queen and a large number of other bees into the bucket.

 

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Chris and Kyle had built a "Warre Hive" to relocate the hive.  We took sections of the hive, cut them down to size, then hung them on the slats with the various sections of the new hive. The bottom section, we set up as the "brood" section, with pieces of hive that contained larva.

 

Here is Katie with one of the brood sections.

 

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Here is a piece of  the brood section. The white spots in the comb are larva.

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We worked on preparing the brood chamber and another chamber with combs filled with honey and pollen.  When we assembled the hive, the brood chamber is placed on the bottom, the food chambers above it.

 

As Katie and I worked on preparing the new hive, Chris and Kyle continued opening the wall to remove the hive.  We needed to remove as much as the hive from the wall as possible to discourage the bees from returning to the original hive.

 

bees10.jpg

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As sections of the hive were removed from the wall, the bees were put into buckets, by either shaking them off or brushing them into the buckets.  Some pieces of hive were put into the buckets to help calm the bees.  Once the bees were off the combs, we cut them to size and hung them in the new hive.

 

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We had placed the queen and a number of bees in a bucket earlier and covered it with the lid. A few holes were drilled in the lid. We noticed a number of bees settling on the lid around the holes, attracted to the scent of the queen inside.

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We finally worked up high enough on the wall to find the access hole from the outside.  Note the large quantiy of bees still in the hive.  The average honey bee hive contains 50,000 bees and the queen lays an average of 1,800 eggs per day.

 

bees13.jpg

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Here are two buckets of bees.

 

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Once we had the hive cleared from the wall, it was time to assemble the hive and relocate the bees. The brood section is on the bottom with the honey and pollen section above it. An empty section was placed on top of the honey and pollen section. 

The first order of business was to put the queen into the new hive.

 

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After the first group had a couple of minutes to settle in, the other two buckets of bees were dumped in as well.

 

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Finally, the insulation section is placed on top and filled with cedar wood chips. This is to help regulate the hive  temperature and help absorb moisture within the hive.

 

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We secured the hive with ratchet straps.  This will hold the hive together when we move it back to Hartman Reserve. Eventually, the bees will "glue" the sections together and build new combs in the top section. Additional sections can be added as needed.

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Here are Chris and Kyle with the finished hive full of relocated bees (note the roof section was added).

 

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We left the hive next to the location of the old hive for a couple of hours. This allows bees that were still flying around a chance to join the rest of the hive.  There is an opening at the bottom front of the hive with a "dance floor" landing/takeoff area. 

 

We returned after a couple of hours to relocate the hive.  There were still a few bees flying about, but the majority had entered the hive.  We blocked off the entrance to the hive, then used a hand cart to carefully roll it to the truck for transport to their new home.

 

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Throughout the entire process, the bees were amazingly docile. We had one actual sting to two other "almosts".  When we arrived it was only about 40 degrees outside, which I am sure helped keeping the bees less active.

 

The other pieces of the original hive were taken with us as well, and will be first placed outside the hive. The bees will clean these, removing any honey or pollen and taking it back into the new hive. Once cleaned, the wax will be melted down and used in the preparation of additional hives.

 

This was quite an interesting adventure and viewed by all involved as a great success.  I will post more pictures of the hive at its new location next to the Hartman Reserve Nature Center and keep you updated on the progress.

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Bee keeping is a difficult hobby today because of the serious decline in honey bees for different reasons. Member Sonny raised some years back and Horus and Julie have some now I think.Good job and a great tutorial Fat Guy Thank you.  :arigato:

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Thanks, Swede. This was an amazing project and I was lucky to be involved.  The decline in honey bees in the area is one of the reasons for relocating this and hopefully other hives to Hartman Reserve and possible other parks in the area.  Providing housing and suitable habitat will be beneficial to both the bees and the surrounding areas.

 

We also hope to make an "observation hive" that will have see through sections to allow people to see inside the hive.

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We found and notified the City about a hive inside a dead hollow tree in the cemetery about 8 or so years ago.  They moved it to an area just outside of town.  It was awesome to watch.  That is a great pictorial on the process.    I LOVE bees.  The decline in bee populations is very worrisome.

 

 

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Here are the bees we rescued last weekend. They seem to like their new home at Hartman Reserve.

 

In this picture, they are busy sealing the seams of the hive with propolis.  You can see three on the "dance floor" and three others working on the first seam above the "dance floor".

 

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They have a lovely view of the Nature Center.

 

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On Sunday, September 15, 2013,  at Hartman Reserve, we harvested honey from the first feral colony we rescued back in April.  The bees seem to be very content and thriving in their new home and two additional supers (boxes) have been added to the bottom of the hive over the summer.

 

An advantage of the Warre hive is that the queen and the brood comb sections will move toward the bottom of the hive, closer to the entrance and the bees will fill the upper comb with honey.

 

Here we are opening the hive, removing the roof and the quilt box on top.

 

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The entire top super was all honey and about 80% of the second one down as well.  This single box, Chris estimated weighed 50-60 pounds.

 

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Once we had it removed, we smoked it to encourage the bees to go back in the hive.  It was a cool day when we were doing this, so the bees were a little sluggish.

 

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Next, we removed the comb from the super and put this in a bucket with mesh cloth. There are holes in the bottom of this bucket that will allow the honey to run down into the bucket below for collection. No centrifuge needed, just gravity. After a while, the comb will be crushed up in the bucket and set in the sun to allow the remaining honey to be collected. The remaining comb can then be melted down and made into candles or for preparing the next hive.

 

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Man that is so cool!!!!    I really want to get a hive going.  I can't imagine what I'd do with all that fresh honeycomb. 

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Guest smallgamehunter

Great post Bob its truly amazing what bees can do when left alone to do as nature intended

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