Bee Rescue/Removal · Lazer Creek Apiary · Products and Vendors

Bees in Trees – 80 feet up!

20200508_swarm down
After an hour or so, the bees were down on the ground.

Sometimes it seems that bees know just when I’m wearing a dress and heels or when we have ice-cream in the back of the car after a grocery run — they just know when to make swarming more of a challenge for us.   Then I have to think back on the swarm that moved into an empty NUC while I was checking bees last fall to realize that maybe we just remember the inconvenient swarms better!

This swarm initially looked like 4 smaller swarms, but it turned into one of the biggest swarms we’ve had.  We last inspected the hive on Sunday.  They had barely started working the honey super and we made a split to give the queen open frames to lay fresh brood, but by Friday they had the honey super about 30% full, multiple frames had hatched, and they were still storing nectar in the brood boxes.  Even with the bees in the trees, the hive was still rocking it!   The nectar flow is good this year, and we need to recheck some other strong hives again as soon as the coffee kicks in this morning.

Some bees flew even higher up into the tree

The swarm was pretty high up in a pine tree, so it took some brainstorming, which included discarding crazy ideas while building upon them, to get the branch down.   We even very briefly considered chopping the tree down!  Hubby managed to drop the swarm right onto the tarp we’d laid down with multiple boxes on it.   We’d baited all of them with Swarm Commander and I’d put a frame with nectar, brood, and bees from the original hive in the 10-frame.  After they’d recovered from the fall, they started pagenting in to the 10-frame and one of the NUCs.   Some of them returned the tree, just higher up than before.    They spent the night out there, but they are still alive and kicking!

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This morning, bees are checking out the swarm-capture hives

After a while, we shook the remaining bees from the tarp into the 10-frame and just crossed our fingers.    Now that’s it’s warmed up, bees are migrating down from the tree to the two capture-hives.   Of course, we won’t know for a few days whether they are just regrouping in preparation of another escape attempt or happy in their new home, but we consider this capture a success, an adventure, and a wonderful example of how well Hubby and I work together.

We both took one sting each (for swarming bees they were relatively well-mannered) and the anti-itch salve I made from a Beeswax Alchemy recipe worked wonders.   It was the first time we’d been able to try it on a bee sting — I’ve wanted to know if it works for a long time, but not enough to intentionally get stung.    I’m not so sure that the soap I tried last week is turning out as well, but it is the most complex soap recipe I’ve tried yet.   More about soaps, lotions, and salves next blog….



Bee Rescue/Removal · Bees · Lazer Creek Apiary

Bee Rescue Part 2

Last week, when we opened the first (smaller) panel, this was what we saw — lots of what we would normally consider beautiful honey were it not sitting on top of the sheet rock ceiling of a dining room.

Honey and bees beneath the floorboards
First look at the hive

Now that it’s in jars, we think it’s beautiful again, but extracting honey from natural comb takes a lot more work and clean-up than extracting it from frames.   The removal process left us with more bees in the tote than we are used to, making extracting just a little more “fun” and sweaty in a bee suit!

One of the things that the client had told us about the previous removal was that lots of honey ended up tracked into carpets and down stairs.  We therefore starting by putting Kleen Kover Carpet Film  down to protect everything.    It is a very durable product that survived countless trips up and down the stairs and was easily removable when the job was done.    It took both of us working together to put it down because it’s a lot like a 24 inch wide roll of packing tape.  I’m now thinking about using it in the back of my car because the dog managed to bypass the Weathertech floor mat on our last trip and barf in my speaker and on the 2 inches of carpet that was still visible!

Plastic protection around the hive
Kleen Kover Carpet Film around the opening

As I also explained in the last blog, we installed window screen over the opening into the bay between the floor joists to block entry and then covered that with plywood and insulation.   It took us a day or two to find the camera, so this picture didn’t make it into the first blog.   Most of the pictures on my phone were completely out of focus — it’s hard to take pictures while wearing honey-coated bee gloves!

Window screen to block entry

We also placed screen over the fascia board on the outside.   Despite all that hubby read, watched, and talked to other bee-keepers about, the foragers did not just leave that evening like they were supposed to!  We brought two full NUCs of bees home with us and left another NUC with brood on site, but only a few of the foragers moved into the NUC – the rest huddled in a confused ball on the side of the house!   It took us another 3 days to get them to leave!  We’ll look through the NUCs tomorrow morning to see just where the queen is.   The non-stubborn bees were mainly pagenting into the same NUC, so I’ll start there.

Summer break is off to a good start with new bees and a new and successful experience.  I’ll go check on the country-bees next week and sit outside and watch the stars come out in the evenings.



Bee Rescue/Removal

Bee Rescue

First stage of bee removal done.

Today we removed a hive from between the 2nd story floor and dining room ceiling of a house.  The picture to the left shows the first 9-inch deep cavity after we had removed the comb.  The bottom left corner shows more comb peeking out from under the other section of plywood.

Why two sections of plywood, you may ask!  Well, we’re not the first to pull bees out from this floor.  The bees were getting into the soffit by crawling up the mortar joints between the brick siding and then crawling through that big gap between the joists.   The previous beekeeper sprayed foam insulation into the gap to keep the bees out, but the bees ate it!   I guess once wood smells like wax, propolis, and brood, bees will eat just about anything to get back home.

Broken comb sections from first section

That one section contained about 40 pounds of honey.  We ended up (successfully) using the bee vac to get most of the bees out — and we had to empty the bee vac twice.   We banded what brood there was into empty frames and put those in a NUC with bees.  We dropped the honey into a clean  plastic container to process later.   We put some of the empty comb in with bees in another NUC, just so they’d have the smell of home with them.  Both NUCs are now full of confused bees in our yard awaiting a trip to the farm.

Once we had the bees and the mess they’d made out (it’s not a mess in a hive, but I wouldn’t want honey dripping onto my sheet-rock dining room ceiling), we secured the gaps with window screen.  We then went outside, removed the fascia, and blocked the entrances from that direction.  By that time, we could remove our suits in the room (it’s a toasty 90 degrees today), and continue clean up.  Hubby secured a piece of plywood over the window screen and also added some vertical blocking, just in case.  The bees had been exploring and ending up in the kitchen light fixture on the other side of the house before we were called in, so if they find another way in, we want them to be confined to a small area.

As there’s no way for us to eliminate the home-sweet-hive smell from the joists, hubby filled the cavity with insulation and now has the floor put back together.   I came home and got the bees situated in their temporary homes, and the day was a success!

Beautiful comb honey

Of course, in the middle of all this, I just had to go to my car and get my coffee — after I’d unzipped my veil a little to cool off.   So, yep, I ended up with a bee in the suit and a bee in the veil — all for some coffee that I then didn’t drink!   The good thing is that I now know that Stops the Sting really works!   I had to scrape the stinger out of my chin and then go find the Stops the Sting in my pocket book.  Once I applied it, the pain stopped and there has only been minimal swelling.  I can see the hole in the middle where the stinger was, so now I just look like a teenager with an acne problem.   That was at least 5 hours ago, and it still doesn’t hurt.  I just ordered two more tubes – one for each bee tool box.

It’s been a rewarding, exciting, nerve-wracking, satisfying start to the holiday weekend.  We’ll go back over to the house tomorrow and Monday just to make sure everything is okay and the foragers realize that their family moved and didn’t leave a forwarding address!

All-in-all, I don’t regret staying in the city to do this.   I’ll head down to the farm next weekend and see what the bees down there are up to.   I’ll have to come back to the city periodically as the fig tree has gone insane, but more about that later!

Bee Rescue/Removal · Pests - Bees · Queen Bee

Happy People: Happy Bees

Last night, as we were deciding which trees were ready to fend for themselves at the farm, hubby spotted another swarm of bees in our yard.  Once again, they were behind the trealis and a fence post. The poor honeysuckle is still recovering from the last swarm extraction, and this time the two grapevines got to share the pain!   (I should know in a couple of weeks whether or not grapevines can be rooted from “cuttings”!)

Swarm – April 7

These bees were quite cooperative.  Hubby scooped a couple of handfuls into a NUC, I squirted some Honey B Healthy onto the inner cover, we gave them a stick to use as a bridge and they pagenented right on in.  By the time we’d checked the other hives, only two lost bees were still wandering around on the fence.

One of our other splits now has the fattest queen I have ever seen, so that NUC made the trip to the farm and the bees are already bringing in loads of white pollen.  We moved them up to an 8-frame so that they could get over all of their confusion about the new location at once and they seem to be as happy as clams.    The queen cells in the sister NUC have hatched, but we didn’t see a queen.  Hopefully she will find her way home in a couple of days.

The other hives at the farm are all active, but we didn’t check them today.   Hubby is digging more tenches for water lines and I planted some tomatoes and thyme.   We are really curious to see whether the diatomaceous-earth we sprinkled on the ground two weeks ago has had any impact on the small hive beetles.  It’s supposed to kill them when they go back onto the ground to pupate.   Now that the hives are stronger, we aren’t seeing as much of a problem as when we came out of that really cold snap, but we’d love to see no beetles at all.   It still seems like having the hive in a sunny spot works wonders, but that is going to make hive checks challenging in July.

The dog is chewing on a pine-cone, hubby is working hard, and I’m enjoying sitting out in the 72 degree sunshine.  It’s amazing to sit here at this time of day and see just how many insects are flying around at any given time and at how many spider webs are catching the sunlight.   Even with the sound of the Ditch Witch, the farm is so peaceful and just a good place to be.   We are just so very lucky and happy to be here.

Bee Rescue/Removal · Bees · Lazer Creek Apiary

Bees ‘n Trees

Honeycomb inside the tree

Our mantra on those stressful days that everyone, regardless of career field, has is “Bees and Trees.”  It helps remind us that the time is approaching when our schedule will be governed more by the seasons and sunsets and less by bells and deadlines.  However, today “Bees ‘n Trees” refers to bees IN trees.

We were asked to try to save a hive inside a hollowed out tree that had been struck by lightening years ago.   Pest control companies have exterminated colonies a few times in the past, but bees keep finding this fantastic place to live and moving back in again.

Removing the small tree.

Two trees have actually merged at the base and it is at this split that the bees were entering.  We couldn’t see inside the split because another tree had grown up, leaving just enough room for bees to enter.  After removing that tree and widening the hole a little, we were able to take the above picture of the beautiful comb hanging down from somewhere….   Hubby widened the hole again, and we could see and reach more.  The hollow part of the tree — and the hive — extends into at least two chambers with somewhat rotten wood between them.  At this point, bees were exiting from a variety of small holes around the tree — some of which were at waist height.  We have no idea how far up the tree this hive extends.  He pulled out some of the most beautiful comb I have seen.  Still, even after cutting as much as we felt was safe, we were unable to reach any comb with brood, although we did gather enough comb with empty cells or honey to fill two large and two medium frames.    We put those frames in a Nuc and left it at the hive entrance in hopes of attracting, and thereby saving, some of the bees.

The first look inside.

As the tree is split and each side has a wide crown, it’s just not possible for us to safely retrieve these bees.  The property owner may opt to have the trees cut down by an arborist.  If that is the route she takes, we will try to save the bees at that time.  It is such a friendly and productive hive; we would hate to see such good genetic stock removed from the gene pool (never mind that we simply like the critters!). But they are in town close to a playground,  and no-one wants to see children stung.