“Mar Vista tripleheader”
Today, Roberta of Backwards Beekeepers and I cut-out three hives from my neighbor’s garage. John contacted BB after what sounds like a few bungled removals. What started as one hive in his wall splintered into three robust hives, taking up residence in various parts of the garage.
John’s daughter Catherine, a biology student at UCSB, helped us throughout the whole ordeal. I suspect we have a newbie beek in the making. She was really impressive.
The first hive we tackled was in a window frame and was fully exposed after removing a sheet of plywood that was installed after the previous removal.
We were able to easily cut out the comb and tie it into frames. Look at all that brood!
Next up was a hive that set up in a wine box left behind to trap stragglers from the previous removal. The thought was that it was better to have them living in the box than in the wall.
Unfortunately, they quickly got over-crowded and sent out at least two more swarms, which set up shop in the window and wall. Makes me wonder if this is where the swarm that showed up in my yard originated. If so, I have John to thank for my good fortune. The good news was that the box made for a really simple cut-out.
We tied all the comb into 5 frames and dropped them into a nuc box I just built. We obviously got the queen because the rest of the crew was eager to get inside.
And finally, after a ton of sawing and brute demo work, we were able to cut-out the swarm in the wall. They really spread out throughout the wall, so it took a ton of coaxing to get them all. And by coaxing, I mean busting the hell out of the wall and brushing and vacuuming like a mad man. And though I’m no fan of the bee vac, I’ve found it to be essential in some of the hairier cut-outs. Going to try to build one this weekend, stay tuned for how that turns out.
Special thanks to John and Catherine for helping rescue many thousands of honeybees, and to Roberta for the mentoring.
Tangerine Trees, Marmalade Hives
The other night fellow Backwards Beekeeper Roberta and I responded to a call in Culver City from a guy claiming to have a hive the size of two basketballs in his tangerine tree. Sure enough, we showed up to discover one of the largest tree hives any of us had seen. Despite being nearly sunset, we couldn’t resist and decided to try to take the whole thing while all the bees were in for the night.
We were going to need back-up for this one, so Roberta called in Yvonne for some extra support. The three of us tediously trimmed away branches overhead, freeing the hive of the thousands of buttressing branches needed to keep this massive hive in place. Eventually we got it to a place where we could cut off one branch and bring the whole thing down. I held on to the limb as Roberta and Yvonne hacked away with a pole trimmer. After what felt like forever, we sawed our way through and were able to bring it down.
We trimmed the branches some more to allow us to stick the whole thing in a box. Surprisingly the bees were very cooperative throughout, all things considered.
It was a major team effort and a lot of fun. Thanks Roberta and Yvonne, you guys are amazing!
Stay tuned for a video of this hive being cut-out and tied into their new home in a Langstroth hive.
I inspected Sophie Anne’s hive yesterday and she has drawn quite a bit of comb, but it would appear (unless I am mistaken, and correct me if I am) that the workers have designs on replacing their queen. You’ll notice in the middle of the photo a unique cell that sticks out. I believe this to be a queen cell, and more specifically a supercedure cell. Bees will create these cells when they believe their queen is failing and want to replace her. That would appear to be the case with Sophie Anne. Perhaps she was injured or just not laying enough brood. I didn’t see her during the inspection so I can’t speak to her condition or existence for that matter. At any rate, I’m excited to see what happens. Hopefully they will emerge a stronger, healthier hive.
gardendog: Honeylove Swarm Capture
“Chelsea and I drove out to Glendale a couple of weeks ago to respond to a couple calls on the Backwards Beekeepers rescue hotline and were able to capture two beautiful swarms. And just in time too. The exterminator showed up just as I was boxing up the second swarm from the hedge in front of a triplex. He wasn’t thrilled about missing the opportunity to bill his client, but was happy that the bees would be given a new home. Apparently this wasn’t the first time the Backwards Beekeepers beat him to a swarm.”
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