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suggestions for moving a feral hive?

Posted by acwest z7 MD (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 22, 06 at 21:51

This hive is located in a friend's barn, up about 8 feet and behind an easily removed siding board. I'm thinking to rig ladder jacks and a plank to work from. I am thinking that I will be using the smoker a lot. I am told by an interested party (but not interested enough to it himself!) that I could take the comb and tie it into frames with twine. This way I could get lucky and get the queen as well as the comb and all the bees at home at the time. The few pictures I've seen of feral hives show that wild comb hangs in sheets sort of like framed comb, so this seems messy but do=able.

I would fill as many frames as possible, and pitch the other scrapings into a hive body of my own, screen the opening and take the whole thing home, hoping that the bees would eventually reconfigure their own comb, or use the supplies to rebuild on plastic or wax foundation. If I could take some honey I would, but in a feral colony wouldn't it be difficult to separate from the brood area?

Is any of this a good idea? What else might I need to know or do? would there be a prefered time of day or evening for this operation? If I missed the queen or mashed her, what would the queenless bees do in their new location? And if their new location were in my front yard with two other colonies, would there be robbing of the semi-disorganized feral colony or any other problems?

I want the bees, the colony, mainly for curiosity and the challenge, but more of my knowledge comes from reading than from experience, so a reality check would be useful!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: suggestions for moving a feral hive?

You can use rubber bands to secure comb into frames. I would only worry about the brood comb. Honey is too heavy, just scrap it and either crush and strain for yourself, or feed it back to the bees later. I just use a kitchen knife to cut areas of brood comb to fit frames. You will kill some brood, but it won't matter. IF you see the queen, great, but you most likely won't. If you get some areas of brood with eggs, they can make a new queen. I would work this off an 8 foot step ladder most likely, although a section of scaffolding would be a luxury. Start mid-morning, smoke lightly and give them 5 minutes or so to engorge on honey. Open the wall and mist them with sugar syrup. Work slowly and steadily. Get some open brood into the box and then start shaking the bees off the comb into the box. Smoke as needed, but not too much. I use a bee vac to take the aggressive guard bees out of the air, but it isn't necessary if the bees aren't too hot.


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RE: suggestions for moving a feral hive?

Thank you bandit for great suggestions. I'll be doing the deed next week.
Will the brood be separate like it is in my organized colonies, or will it be mixed in with the honey comb? Once I shake the bees off the comb (which I guess I have just pulled down with my gloved hands or scraped off the wall) into the box, will they stay there? My friends want the bees gone never to return, so I should clean up thoroughly, but what will the bees not in the box do when all their comb is gone and the crack sealed up?


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RE: suggestions for moving a feral hive?

  • Posted by ccrb1 z5 IND (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 24, 06 at 19:05

I have a beetree on my property, transported when it fell on a golf course in January. The log, upright, oriented as if the tree was still growing, was 5 ft high.

Today, we cut into it and transplanted the brood into frames. So far the bees are in the now empty log, and the hive is two feet away. If they don't follow naturally, I'll use my bee vac and transplant them tomorrow.

Photos, if anyone is interested, to come.

Note to the uninitiated... you must orient the comb right side up in the new frames. I use fishing line, and not rubber bands or twine, with cover too many cells.


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RE: suggestions for moving a feral hive?

Thought I'd post a follow-up about how this operation actually went.
It was a drizzly day and I had to go in the afternoon. I made myself a sort of bee vacuum from a small shop vac and a cardboard box. I smoked up thru the barnboards, pried one off to reveal a lovely clean "tongue" of comb. I sprayed with sugar water then began to vacuum the bees. They were surprisingly docile even though my vacuum didn't have much power and I had to be right on top of them to get them.
There were about a dozen "tongues" of various sizes, which if they had brood, or honey, I cut to fit in a frame. I didn't have enough rubber bands so tied them into frames, right side up, with garden twine and stuck them into a box. I ended up with 7 "full" frames in a deep hive body, quite a drippy mess where I'd had to cut through brood, and two cardboard boxes (12x12x18) full of bees. I had sealed off the entrance of the deep with screen, and I stored the cardboard boxes in those round-spring-wire laundry hampers, with the ends tied shut. They turned out to be a good idea, because the drizzle had softened the cardboard glue seams and the bees started to get out of the box but stayed in the bag in the trunk.

At home, the next morning I put another deep on top, dumped what bees I could into it, and left the rest on a sheet on the ground in front of the hive.

Things looked good at first. The bees worked hard to clean out the larvae that was cut or fell out. I decided to feed these bees, since I didn't think there was much going on nectar-wise in my area, so I used the wet comb, sugar water and later brood-builder cakes. But I pretty much left them alone for six weeks.

At that point there was not much coming and going from the hive. Although I did see larvae, I couldn't find a queen, or eggs. The rubber bands had broken, early on by the looks of it, and they had cleaned up a surprising amount of twine. But the irregular shape, my sloppy packing and my inexperience made it hard to say what kind of cells, drone or queen they had built. There was quite a lot of debris in the bottom too, some of it string, but stuff that looked like sawdust, or coffee grinds too. Excrement?
So I decided to take what was left and consolidated it with the smaller of my other two colonies, which I did by setting the box atop the other brood chamber with a newspaper between them.
The following morning there were a couple hundred dead or dying bees on the ground in front of the colony. Today, three days later, things look okay and the newspaper is half gone. I wasn't too worried about mites, I figured I'd be treating for them anyhow, and without much larvae I wouldn't have much mites. But now I'm worried about nosema or some more obscure protozoa/amoeba/virus.

I'm told there are still bees at the original site, but I haven't been back to check yet.
This was a learning experience, although I'm not quite sure what I learned - better rubber bands, maybe a store-bought queen if I could find one? I'd appreciate any comment from anyone, anytime.


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building a bee vac

I need to build a bee vac to clean up after robbing wild bees, there are always a bunch that I can't get and I want them all.
I read about someone having one out of a 5gal. plastic jug. Does anyone know how this is done?
What is the best way to go about building one?


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RE: suggestions for moving a feral hive?

I'll tell you how I did it , not the best way, but possibly adequate. I used a regular 11/2 hp shop vac, and an extra section of hose, and a fine nylon, and a heavy corrugated cardboard box about 6x6x12. The box was basically inline with the hoses, which is to say, hose about 4 ft, box, second hose covered with panty hose, vacuum cleaner. The suction was reduced by the long run, about 10 feel all told,the panty hose kept the bees from going through into the vacuum cleaner, and duct tape kept the assembly together. I kept the box tucked under my arm, and the VC on the plank next to me. I had dead bees in their new frame next day but I don't think they died from Vac effects. I had to be within an inch or two of them to suck them up. All in all, it was pretty reasonable.


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