Friday, 15 May 2020

Seriously Difficult Bee removal

This next post comes to us from Stewart....

So Simon Crowson contacted me regarding a report of a swarm in Buckminster so I popped over to have a look.



The wall where the bees were entering

When I got there, one look and i knew this was going to be a difficult one. A large number of bees were going into the wall of the house under some hanging tiles on a first floor extension !

The house was a rented property so I advised the family living there that removing the bees was going to be quite intrusive, I thought that they would most likely be in the flat roof void over the extension but would only be able to determine by cutting out a section of the fascia and soffit and also taking off some of the wall tiles, after which we could make a plan.

Reconnaissance visit
Once I pulled off the fascia at the side of the roof I could tell they weren’t in there and to my horror it looked like they were in the cavity of the timber framed wall....... behind the tiles and timber support lats.

After removing part of the outside of the house the
colony could be seen inside the wall

A close up of the bees visible behind
Now that we were committed there was no option but to take off a large section of the outer wall tiles, saw through all the timber lats and remove the bitumen waterproof layer. This revealed a large colony that had set up residence. As the cavity was only 5 inches wide there were only two combs but they were each about 4 foot deep !!! Either they’d been in there for a good while or there was another colony in there on the past and they’d moved in and made use of the old comb, I think it was the former but the family say they only noticed the bees for the first time a week and a half ago.
We had to cut out the wall timbers to get to the colony
We cut out the brood comb as best we could, although this was a very rough job, we then put this comb onto some empty national frames (without foundation) and secured the comb into the frame with some large bands we had made from elastic strips, it wasn’t pretty and we piled in as many bees as possible.


Bees in the box, you can see the top of the elastic bands
we’d made to hold the comb into the frames
Eventually we made up about seven or eight frames in this manner, we’ve done this several times before and so we didn’t bother rescuing comb with honey stored as it’s just too heavy and collapses when cut out.
Close up of the box and elastic supports

There were still a lot of bees flying around and trying to escape by running behind the adjoining wall tiles and cavity in several clusters, they must have thought we were two crazed lunatics intent on destroying their lovely home !

I was concerned that we may not have got the queen into the brood box as none of the bees in the box were fanning at the entrance (as sure fire way of knowing she’s in there) so  I left it on the roof above the old site hoping the remaining bees might relocate. It was a very sticky messy job so all my gear ended up in the washer.
The brood box left for the night on the roof above their old nest

The wall was a bit of a mess, one good reason to
make sure we all do our swarm controls

Bees still running away behind the wall and clustering
I returned the next morning, lots of bees were in the brood box on the roof but still loads all over around their former home, I was worried that we hadn’t got the queen, i got some more into the box but after a while any attempt at finding her or getting more bees into the box seemed hopeless so I took the brood box away, tidied up as best I. could and left, my thoughts were that if we hadn’t got the queen I’d just introduce a queen cell from one of my other colonies.
Home time
About lunchtime I received a call from the family to say all the remaining bees had flown down and landed on their lawn and were in a big clump ..... could this be the queen ?

I went over and indeed there was a bunch of bees on the lawn so I scooped them all up and popped them into a nuc upon which they started fanning furiously at the entrance to call in all the remaining bees, so this makes me think the queen was likely in this group. I waited a quarter of an hour whilst nearly all the bees went into the nuc, took it home and tipped them into the brood box with their other bees.
The next day, after rescuing the clump of bees on the lawn
where we think the queen might have been

Bees can be clearly seen fanning their entrance, this is usually
a sign the queen is inside .... after all the effort we hope so!

All bees now reunited in their new home
It’s now time to leave them for a week to get over their trauma and keep our fingers crossed that they now have their queen back, I certainly hope so as they were totally non aggressive and despite all we did to them and not using any smoke whilst cutting out and removing their home, not once did they have a pop at us so I think they would make a great colony to work with.

Fingers crossed xxxxxxxx
Stewart.

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keep it clean...keep it relevant...I look forward to reading your comments!!