Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bee Removal--Mesquite April 21, 2010

I got to attend my first bee removal with the guys last night. At sunset we drove to Mesquite. Before arriving, we had been told the bees were in a shed and had been there for about 7 years. The man later told me that he's been through 4 different pool service companies because they refuse to come back after their workers get stung the first few times, yikes! The homeowner has plans to tear down the shed in the next few weeks so he had no problem with us ripping out the floor to get at the hive.

Here is the shed, it was a small wooden shed with a wooden floor joists, the bees had made their home under the floor in a corner of the shed.

There was a lot more gear involved in the bee removal than I ever thought possible. Two bee vacs, two boxes of equipment, a circular saw, lights, extension cords, pry bars, hoses... but they seemed to use most of the gear they brought

The guys got suited up and began to pull up the floor.

There were no where near as many bees as I expected in and around the hive, the guys too said that there were not as many bees as they usually saw.

Unfortunately, since the hive was built under the floor of the shed, the comb was stuck down into the dirt and rocks and was very dirty to pull out. You can see how the comb has been attached to the dirt--which pulled up when we pulled up the floor.

As they removed sections of flooring, the guys used the bee vac to suck up any bees they saw.

This picture is sad, you can see the honey pooling on the floor and dirt stuck all over the comb. Due to the old flooring and weird hive location, it was nearly impossible to remove any of the comb without damaging it.

The hive and comb covered an area of about 5 feet by 2 feet under the floor. Most of the comb was clearly very old and dark in color.

As they removed each piece of comb, they were careful to vacuum off any bees.

Under the next section of floor, farthest from the bee entrance there was some newer comb, but it had not been filled yet.

The guys are very methodical and efficient in their work. It was fun to watch them deconstruct the hive

We loaded the comb into coolers for the ride home.

There was one nasty surprise... a dead cat that had been there a long long time. Hubby was down on his stomach reaching under a shelf to suck up more bees when he looked over he saw this

Well, hubby said it worse than that, that is just fur--apparently the dead cat was making quite a face too-- but I was not willing to get down close enough for a good shot.

We left Mesquite at about 11 that night and headed home to handle the other part of a bee extraction.

Proof I was there!

We ended up with two coolers full of comb and the bee vac had a lot more bees than the guys expected. Like the last few extractions, hubby tried to wire the brood comb to the bee hive frames, but this comb was too narrow to do it very neatly. Still, the hive got about 4 frames of brood returned to them and I also set out the honey comb for them to clean today. I've read that it is bad beekeeper practice to give bees honey when there is more than one hive nearby, but we did not have many other options.

My first night of bee removal was a success. Mostly I just took pictures, but I was there in the middle of the extraction with bees crawling all over me and it was very neat to see. Only one sting for any of us... hubby got stung on his finger when he was taking his hat off.

Later today, I'll try to figure out what to do with all of the excess comb. I expect the bees will have completely cleaned the combs I left out for them. The honey had a sharp twang to it that I do not like, so we won't be extracting any honey from this hive. I learned that some of the spring flowers have strong unplesant tastes in honey, primarily wisteria.


  1. Hi - Thanks for posting this! Few questions for ya.

    How cold was it when you did this extraction?

    Were the bees more timid than normal because it was night (and coooler)?

    And did you end up using the smoker much?

    That's one BIG bee vacuum!

  2. In was in the lower 70s, so not that cool. We did not use the smoker very much, the hive was in a shed and the smoke ended up overpowering us as much as the bees. Yep, it is a huge bee vac... we also have a brood box sized bee vac that we use, I'll post pictures of it when I can. Ummm, hubby can answer better on the temperment of the bees, I'd guess they were about average temperment. Mostly, they are just really confused as to what the heck is happening to their house.

  3. We typically do extractions at night because the forager bees are inside the hive at night. I'm not sure how many extra bees we get because of this, but it makes us feel like we're getting as many bees as possible. Bees are a lot like people, every hive has a personality or overall temperament. They can also just be in a poor mood because it's cold, rainy, no food, crowded, etc. We've actually been using the smoker less and less. I'm not sure I've seen much of a difference between using it and not. We're demolishing their home, and sucking them up in a big hose so for the most part they are just trying to get away. The flip side to that is, at least they aren't being killed.