Saturday, May 24, 2014


Wednesday morning, having found the entrance the previous day, I put on my protective gear and fired up the bee smoker. then began removing a few pieces of siding from the wall to reveal the underlying boards where the bees were entering.  Within a few minutes, boards were revealed and the first board was removed.  Between the wall studs, there was honeycomb, but the bees were not on it at that location.  Removing boards and occasionally pumping smoke into the hive to keep the bees calm, I worked my way down to the bottom end of the honeycomb which ended within inches of the bottom plate..  There were no bees, brood or honey in these honey combs, so I would have to work upward to find the colony.

Moving higher and higher on the ladder, I slowly removed the outside wall all the way to the top plate.  Yes, the honeycomb reached all the way up the wall, from the bottom of the first floor to the top of the second (sorry I forgot to take pictures of the higher levels).  In the upper half of the comb is where the bees, brood and honey were.  There were far fewer bees than I had expected and much less brood and honey, though I hadn't expected lots of honey this early in the season.

By now, it was mid-day and time to start removing the bees.  Piece by piece, I removed honeycomb, carefully searching each piece for the queen, then placing it in a flat pan.  The pan would only hold a few pieces so it was down the ladder to put brood comb (some were partly filled with honey) into the hive body I had brought for this purpose.  The bees from the non-brood comb were gently brushed into the hive with a soft brush, all the while searching a second time for the queen.  This process was repeated over and over again until all the comb with honey or brood were out of the wall space.  One of the last few pieces of comb was where the queen and her entourage were finally located and were introduced to the hive.  When this was finished, I removed the empty comb from the wall.  All of the honeycomb which was not placed in the hive had been placed in containers with lids so the bees would not attempt to salvage the honey and wax and be more likely to work in the new hive.

As you can imagine, there were bees flying everywhere.  They were now entering and leaving the new hive and defending it, but there were still a good number of bees in the wall space gathering any honey that had been spilled or missed in their old location.  As expected, they could be seen gathering this honey and returning to the hive.  This process would continue for a while.

By late afternoon, with the work done, it was time to let the bees settle into their new home, so I left the hive where it was and made arrangements to come back after dark when the bees would be in for the night.  Sure enough, with darkness, the bees had settled and the vast majority of them were in the hive.  There were a few holdouts who stayed with the remnants of the old comb, but most had accepted their new home.  With a ratchet strap across the top to keep the hive parts from shifting and releasing bees into my Jeep Cherokee during transit and a small wad of green grass in the entrance to keep them from crawling out, I loaded the hive and started the 40 mile trip home.

I had hurriedly cleared out a place for the hive and set up a stand the day before, so upon arrival the hive was placed on the stand, the grass and strap removed and now it was up to the bees.

The next few days were cool and rainy, and with not much in the way of flowers for the bees to feed on, and with them needing to produce honey and wax quickly, I fed them so they could save flight time until they were well established.  As you can see from this photo taken a couple of days later, they were entering and leaving the hive, even though it was cool and damp (when it warmed up, there was more activity but I didn't have the camera with me).  Nothing to do now but wait for the bees to do their work, and to make a decision before the following Friday whether to re-queen. 


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