Rescuing Bees in the middle of winter???

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Rosti 

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Have just been contacted by the MOD in York (I'm on the swarm list - for summer that is not Xmas!). They have a nest in a residential property that has just been discovered and want it removed. Local pest control suggested to check with a beek. They must be removed - cant wait 'till spring (I am told).

Can you guys think of any way that a colony could be saved and moved to new quarters at this time of year?

I have not done a site visit yet because I wanted post removal options clear in my own mind first.

If I was able to get them into a brood box / nuc (depends on salvageable size) and cut & wired their foundation into some frames at the same time (inside the building they are currently in to avoid chilling), waiting till the stragglers joined the queen, blocked up, transported. Then set them up with some fondant and left them blocked for a good couple of weeks; what do you think their chances are?

Certainly those chances are better than a saucer of petrol - which is what they'll be getting if the pest contractor gets his way.

Thoughts and prompt responses much appreciated. I'll have to move on this today 23-12 if I am to save them. Cheers, R
 

peteinwilts 

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you\they have very little to lose... that is the way I would do it
 

newportbuzz 

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if you have the time spare what can you lose.
worst case senario you learn something.
best you learn something and get another hive.
 

Black Comb 

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Quick thoughts.

1. If you disturb them and they fly today they'll freeze.
2. Try and delay it until warmer - say it's illegal to kill bees in UK now?
3. If they are easy to get out be as fast as possible - they might be clustered and make it easier.

sorry I can't be more constructive.

Good luck
 

Dishmop 

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Sounds as if you might need several plans..

Be interesting to know why they MUST be moved today.

Probably been there for months but now somebody knows they are there they are convinced they are killer bees and will attack them for their Christmas diner.
 
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Rosti 

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Thanks, not looking good for them. They are up behind a damaged external facing (soffit) that has to be removed as part of a wider rennovation program on these properties. Access is via a scaff tower. Most of the soffitt has been removed, they have left the last 3 feet, behind which are the bees. Site work has now stopped because of more snow and wont start again until 04 Jan (if weather allows). If I'm in the country I said I'd take a look but there are an awful lot of ifs.... I think they could become part of the 75% ferral colony failure statistic
:(

If the weather improves
If they dont chill now or whilst moving them
If I get the queen into a box on some comb first time
If I can get some order to the comb so come spring I can find and move the queen to rehouse properly.
If I can get a critical mass of workers to follow her into the nuc/brood (still dont know their colony size)
 

arl 

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Do you have a bee vac or can you get one , It may be a great help in stopping them from flying off,

Just a thought
 

Somerford 

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I think the odds are stacked againt you - cutting out a colony is messy work, takes time to do well and will cause disruption whatever the weather.

If you have any drawn frames, I'd use them and shake them into a brood chamber with a closed entrance, be as quick as possible, don't even think of hunting for the queen, and then use a crown board with 2 holes cut - one for a round contact feeder for syrup and the other for candy, so as not to have to disturb them too much.

As the bees will have to become active to get to the source of food, it might be worth insulating the space above the crown board and around the hive just to give them a fighting chance.

With the empty wild comb, once shaken, I'd take it away whole, and cut it to size around the areas with any stores in, forget the rest and then pop these into the hive as close as possible to the cluster on a milder day in January/February.

All the time keep an eye on the consumption of the syrup/candy and top up/replace as required.

Best of luck and take some photos for the forum!

Stephen

regards
 

peteinwilts 

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once cut out they will have lost a lot of heat. if you do the job, it could be worth locking them in and resting them for a few days in a slightly warmer environment such as a shed, conservertory or porch (10 degrees ish??) with lots of food to let them recover a little.

.... I am still a newbie so would go for a second opinion before doing anything like this as it may do them more harm than good.
 

chycarne 

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Yes you have covered most of what we were going to do with our recent call out. the only additions we had were very warm sugar solution to spray, a slab of fondant already cut, hive box pre insulated throughout and covered. tea towels to cover, Landrover heater going it does make a difference honest!! the bees were going to the back of the house in an area at 7+'c for a week before going out to site. with the first two nights with a warm source either hot water bottles or a warmed in front of the fire concrete block, 3 foot under the hive... it was a two of us thought through plan though and did need both of us... sadly not needed, better luck with yours, if you / we were closer we would come and help...
 

Fronddeunant 

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Doubt whether the colony will be that big and most likely won't have much stores so identifying the area to recover may well be obvious. Always looks bigger than it really is.

Tell the owners that all traces of Bees,comb and access points should be removed once you've gone.

If the reno work is ongoing then there no worries about cosmetic damage to the property as long as you advise there will be some.

The general consensus here is that some chance is better than no chance - I agree - so do what you can.

I find that using a wide plastic decorating spatula to cut the used area of comb from the dead areas makes it easier to handle and then slice it from its support - it's surprising what the Bees will tolerate around now both for exposing and cutting!

If a Queen is there she'll be one of the warmer and hiding so not helping. She will still 'run' so I recover by working quickly (without stopping) from the outsides in as if to heard to the centre.

if there is a chance throughout to literally dump a load of Bees that are clustering and in the way then do so directly down into a box at your feet and cover, then continue. (Good job there's scaff there as makes life a lot lot easier).

Take a kitted out helper too - even if it is only to lift lids and place in boxes or carry - you'll be glad you did as it enables you to work more continuously.

I also recommend thinking about using some decent rubber bands (the red type that the postman uses for eg) to pre-wire two loops around some empty frames to insert what you cut out - otherwise it'll all be falling about when you move it all. This is far easier than needing 3 hands to the job live - comb, wire and frame.

If the colony is behind a soffit you may find that you only need to use 'Super' frames as the combs to come out are restricted so take some of those too.

You will always have to leave a few bees behind - can't be helped - as someone once said - "the needs of the many out way the needs of the few!".

If and when you are successful - which you will bee - the mess that you now possess can all be sorted out when you get back and have had a cup of tea to reflect and what you're going to do next!

Good on you for having a go Rosti.

(Apologies as I expect you know most of all of this - just my 2p's to offer - HTH)

Good luck and let us know how yo get on!


Merry Christmas to all the Forum! bee-smillie
 

oliver90owner 

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chycarne,

Landrover heater going it does make a difference honest!!

Must be later than a IIA!!

Regards, RAB
 

chycarne 

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MM, wow, now all I need is the profits to go an get it, looks a nice toastie beastie though, thank you. John and RAB, its a 300tdi, does anything goes anywhere beast (Chuey) but doesnt keep us warm... well not car warm, but it does enough, carries 1/2 ton of wood, straw, hay and concrete blocks as well as animal and chicken food... and is fun to drive... recently essential...
 

Easy Beesy 

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I had a colony blown over this time last year. Bees exposed to elements for an hour before I got the call. I pulled everything together and hoped for the best. Came through winter and spring ok - summer great 30 lbs honey and into the second winter now. Hope your girls recover as well. Good luck and let's us know how it goes.
Eb
 

Rosti 

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Just an update really, the whole rescue request went quiet over Xmas (and the snow). Site access was not allowed without the contractors present - builders are now back on site and I've had a call to see what can be done because the little darlings are still alive and now going for the builders. The soffit was partialy removed (before Xmas) and so part of the honeycomb is exposed (apparently, not seen it yet). They appear to have lasted almost 4 weeks like this through the cold, they are still flying as of today. They deserve to survive. I'll up date you when I have site visited tomorrow (rain allowing). I'll go kitted for as many eventualities as I can. I'll then have to work with the situation I didn't anticipate! The guys have built an scaffold tower in anticipation so they are serious about saving the colony which is gratifying. R

P.S. LR4 heating system fully serviced and ready for use

Pics if you're lucky :willy_nilly:
 
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*ZhG*StGeorge 

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I hope all goes well Rosti, if you can get them in a nuc or similar will you keep them in a garage to keep them warmer than the garden until the weather gets kinder?

Sorry as a nube am interested
 

Silly Bee 

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Good luck, looking forward to the end result, especially if its a good one.
 

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