Prior to embarking on this adventure, I watched about every JPTheBeeMan video on doing cut outs. Constructed a bee vac. Found a checklist of items to bring to a cut out. And about anything else I could think of looking for. My basic plan was this: Verify they are honey bees. Find where the hive entrance is. Figure out how to expose the nest by removing the floor. Figure out how much space under the floor the entire hive occupied. Identify the honey combs and vacuum up as many bees as possible in that area. Remove the honey and put it into a bucket. Start removing the brood combs while trying to spot the queen. If spotted, cage her and put her in a safe place. Keep removing the brood combs and cut them to fit the empty frames. Use rubber bands to secure the combs in place and put them into a hive body. Rinse and repeat until done. Easy right? We began at approximately 7:15 PM.
|First Floor Cut|
|First Peek at the bees|
I tested out the bee vac to make sure it would work as the first few bees found their way into the interior of the shed. So far so good. We gathered our wits and decided to lift the floor section up and lean it against the wall. This was mistake number one.
|Floor leaned up against the wall|
|Half way done|
It was about 8:30 PM when we started cutting out brood combs to fit in the frames. Thankfully Keith had a very sharp and flexible filet knife that worked well but cutting through brood is never pleasant. Keith kept passing me combs and I kept cutting and rubber banding them into the empty frames. I think the bees were fairly tolerant of all this destruction until we got to the brood nest. Keith made some comments that there were bee guts everywhere. At the time I just assumed he meant because of all the bees that were getting stepped on or the brood cut by the knife. What I didn't realize was that as he was cutting off the brood combs, he could see the bees stinging his hands. He was wearing some sort of canvas mechanic's gloves and they must have been really good because none of the stings were penetrating the gloves.
|Lots of stings in the glove|
|Banding combs in place|
9:15 PM and all we had left to do was to vacuum up as many of the remaining bees as possible, pick up and clean off our equipment and close up the shed. This is where the vacuum started to loose suction. We pulled the vacuum hose off, closed up the box and tried to flush out the hose. After spraying water into the hose for a while, a big clump of bees started to wash out. There were so many bees in the box at this point that I thought we couldn't vacuum any more in even after washing out the hose. In hindsight I probably should have tried to vacuum more since there were still a few clumps of bees wandering around here and there and a small cluster on the outside of the shed. I'm sure my exhaustion didn't help my thinking process.
I shut the vacuum off and started to clean things up when I realized another mistake. How was I going to put the box of brood combs onto the box of vacuumed bees without releasing all the bees I had just vacuumed? Sadly, I had made a shim with a wire mesh insert for this very purpose.........and I left it at home! You are suppose to place this shim on top of the vacuum box. The wire mesh prevents the bees from exiting the vacuum box. Then you place the brood comb box on top of the shim and then you pull the mesh out which allows the bees in the vacuum box to move up into the brood box. So much for that idea. Good thing for me that Keith's truck has a midgate and were able to put the brood box in the back and not have bees flying up into the cab of the truck with us. 9:30 PM and we finally had everything cleaned up and loaded into the truck.
The following day I was able to pick up some new cement blocks and set everything up for the new hive. I leveled the blocks and set up the bottom board. I undid the ratchet straps on the vacuum box and transferred the brood box over first and then the box full of vacuumed bees. They hadn't built any comb on the empty frames so I just shook them off the frames and into the box. I then added two boxes of plastic frames on top and then the inner cover. Since I had all their honey in a bucket, I figured they would need to be fed. I took some honey from some crushed combs I had and put it in an inverted mason jar feeder and placed it on top of the inner cover. I then stacked two empty boxes around the feeder and placed the outer cover on. Without further adieu.....introducing Yellow Hive!
|Bees in their new home|
Until next time, thanks for reading!