Just had a call to remove 2 colonies

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Queen Bee
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Nov 10, 2008
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Maesteg South Wales
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Just had a call to remove 2 colonies from a grade 1 listed building. One colony is in the roof the other is in the floor. They have to either be removed or killed off as the electricians need access to these places.
First time for me to actually remove established colonies from a building so any tips?
Not really sure as I've not had much experience of this myself. I would imagine it would be good to have spare brood boxes nearby, wire or wooden battens to support comb in the box (as its too late to to expect them to draw out comb). I guess if you had drawn frames of comb, you could feed them, but I think the first method would be better, and they would be more likely to survive. feeding would be an idea after they have been moved I think. Candy at this time of year.

Minimal noise and disturbance as well would be an idea- and maybe something to cut the edges of the comb away from whatever its atached to?

Good luck veg- send us a photo
Warning bells here.

Listed building.


Take great care, make sure you are insured for this.

Best of luck but getting them out alive at this time is going to be awkward.

Lots of made up foundation free frames to put the comb in plus a box of elastic bands to secure the comb in the frames.
DONT put any combs down flat as it will drown the bees underneath(been there done it).

If it was me I would be tempted to put them in a shed for the winter with a good block of fondant to feed on.

Good luck Veg and dont forget to take some pics for us..
If you have brood frames in your hive, they will draw the bees from their nest - if they have not brood.
I am going to try and get them out on thursday this week. Spoken to the builder and he has lifted the floor board and then the bees came out so put it back. He said there is lots of comb there. He was glad I contacted him as he has rung around a few but they wouldnt try it. He said his last option was to spray them. So either way its a chance I will take. The building is being renovated so I dont think there is any chance of me damaging the floor as he has allready lifted some of it. I will try and get some photos as well. The other colony is in a flat roof space so will look at that and make a decision on that when there. If it can be left till spring I will move it then:cheers2:
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its easy to remove bees in this places i have done it in some awlfull places the worst was a church roof ceiling 60 foot up with no scafold just safety harnesses and guide wires, here are some hedgerow tips
1 time, it will take ten times longer than you have planned and the bees will do the complete opposite to what you think, dont forget to bring several flasks of hot water
2, expose the complete nest unless you can see what you are dealing with the queen and 2 other bees will be left behind, hotly followed by the other bees, drink tea
3 build a bee vac or do some thing to reduce the amount of flyers, worst case ever use a large fine mesh fishing net to catch them them put them inside a nuc with the enterance way blocked, right next to your cup of tea
4 as well as some new waxed foundation frames take 10 empty ones as you cut out the brace combs put them in the frames and use two or three elastic bands to hold it there once the majority of the nest is inside the nuc box leave the trap enterance open so they can settle back down again , this usual lasts around three cups of tea or an hour or so
5 once to have done the first nest leave the brood box very close to where the nest was and after a cup of tea start the other one,
6 if it is in a roof space ask first if the cieling is comeing down and if not how are you going to get at them,whilst drinking a cup of tea
7 dont be frightend when you first disturb a full colony they will do several waves of attacks at you make sure you are booted and suited for get the marrigolds and use proper leather gloves with duct tape over the joins,
8 worst case and you need to be thinking about your own safety and oxygen supply here if your inside and that is to use a CO2 fire extingiusher as a device to knock the bees down it can freeze them but will normaly send them to sleep and then you sweep them up

and lastly number 8 and this is where a lot of people go off my ideas, if at the end of the day you have a load of loose bees and some wax/honey stores you have done fantasticly well, one queen is amazing and two is a act of god so dont expect lots its your first, if the worst case happeds and you have to kill all the bees with some fly spray remove every thing form site so its as clean as posible you might loose these two but you will get ten more because you are willing to try and thats whats counts.

i have pm my phone number over to you so if you want i can talk you through it better than this email, good luck pete
A couple of more useful tips
Take a sharp knife and some cheese wire to help cut out the comb
Take some sugar water in a sprayer, it works far better than smoke in some situations.
line the brood boxes with some cellotex polystyrene board and use these boxes to not only collect them in but as their final home. You dont want to disturb them twice.
consider putting a crown board with an additional entrance on top of an existing hive and use this as a floor effectively having 2 colonies under one roof. its warmer for them that way
Happy to help if I can.

I've got a beesuit, a car, some tools, lots of enthusiasm but absolutely no experience :)

1 time, it will take ten times longer than you have planned and the bees will do the complete opposite to what you think, dont forget to bring several flasks of hot water.............. drink tea

Hoping to do some swarm collecting next year, and like all things bee related, I think you have to listen to others and find out what works for you in your situation(s). Some useful tips there Pete.

The only real question I have Pete, is, how do you stop bees getting into your tea?

Do you use coffee cups with lids or some other fiendish device. :):confused::)

Veg, would love to see pics of this event.

It's always coffee... LOL

I got 10lb of Jamaican blue Mountain here... Talk about start the day....

After cutting out the wax and putting it into frames with elastic bands will I have to leave the hive there overnight so all the other bees go into it, or will a couple of hours do it. Do I put them into a full hive or a nuc (suppose it depends on how much there is)
Only ever collected a swarm before so not had to mess about with comb before.
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did you get my phone number i sent you?

heres a few more tips then

i would use a brood box with the floor screwed to it as a nuc box might get to small, dont forgot that you are going to also need some unuasal tools other than a smoker

so we need to get a couple of buckets , prefere to have one with a lid.
tools wise we need wrecking tools so a crow bar, lump hammer and a nornal hammer one wood chisel one masonary chiesl, wood saw, will you need a scafold to get to the ones in the roof or will the builder let you borrow one belive me you dont want to be doing this game on a pair of steps, i spent most of my life on them at work and it ant safe at the best of times, scafold or a platform of some sort is miles better.

so general plan of attack is take your time , dont get frustrated as the bees will eat you for it.
get all your tools inside the room with the one on the floor as this is the easyist one to do so we can make mistakes here , you will need two nails one in each side of the top corners of the door and then we hang a dust sheet/big bed sheet up to stop the bees flooding the house out, windows open if posible but we ant worried about that, will we need a light by the way as it can get dark inside some homes very easy and more so as the sun goes over the yard arm. So we are in the room with the doors and windows closed the bees are flying from there normal hole through thee wall so every thing is ready, so lets get ready set up all the tools i have suggested, drink your tea and get suited up, now by the way is use that roll of duct tape on those sleaves as they will find your week spots, as a novice expect several stings, so if you need cream or a sting remover get them set up aswell, and if you smoke get ready for at least 4 hours before the next one as once suited we are staying there till we finished
so off we start, the first set of bees you said were under the floor so we need to lift all the floor boards to get at them, nests are normaly very near to the wall so start where the builder has finished and carry on lifting boards, have you done that before if not try this idea you use a block of wood as a piviot that goes across the joists and then you crow bar/scafold pole goes under the floor board and over the piviot and then you push down, up comes the floor board, but dont throw it away as we still need some thing to stand one when workinging with the nest after say a few boards we are going to start to get the bees flying at us and it is at us, try going through your hive at home with a sledge hammer and you will get the same ideas, they will litteraly come at you in a wave of bees, so we start our bee vac and start to collect and reduce the flyers as i call them , keep going with the fllor untill you can see the whole nest sometimes you are right ontop of it some times its under the flloor but in a hard to raech area sometime to hard to reach, make a rashional opinion am i going to endanger my self any more by continuing if so we spray our fly spray kill the bees make the builder happy and we all go home alive and in one piece
So you are still going for it great ,
we now have found and exposed the nest, the room is full of very angery bees, so what we are now looking at doing is to cut from the nest lumps of comb using a large kitchen knief once cut out we use our elastic bands to hold it in place, we are not looking for perfection here just squish it to fit and get the frames filled so the bees have some where to go to and to defend, this being with its lid on will be dark and bee like so they will start to settle down. notice so far i have not suggested using smoke or sprays as alot of the time when the bees are in full nest protection mode they wont help. There is a massive differance between YOUR bees and wild bees be prepared to get ravaged several times as they will not stop they proberly have lived there so long say 5 years none of them will have any knowledge about bee keepers, now once we have the most of the bees inthe brood box with there comb we are now looking for clumps of bees, why , because one of those clumps will contain a queen so as we scoop them up we are now looking for her, if you are very very lucky you might get a glimpce of her if so make sure that that handfull go into the brood box because that will start the others to using that box if you have any essentsal oils in the box or any quenn pheramone use that as well it helps to concentrate the bees where we want them
so we are now in a room full of mad bees with no floor to stand on and proberly covered head to foot in mad bees, whats next, we can either just sit there and wait for the bees to settle which takes about 40 to 60 miniutes either another cup of tea or go for a fag outside. the nest job is to remove every thing of the nest we have to be a bit sticky here as anest at this timeof year is going to be full of stores. This is why we need a bucket with a lid scrape every thing up or off as it were and then dump the lot inside the bucket dont worry about the bees that goes with it as they are soon to be dead, we realy want to save around 50 to 75 % of the nest you wont get much more after we have every ting in the bucket and a brood box full of upset bees we collect all the tools and leave the room to set up on the next nest
HP has covered most of it. All I would add is that the colony under the floor will probably have suspended their comb from the floorboards so lift them carefully. If it is a big colony put the comb with brood in the frames and the comb that has only honey in a bucket, you will probably drown a few bees but it is unlikely that the queen will be there.
Good luck, Mike

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