Now, this is not something we do for just anyone! Hive removal is hard work and holds its own bag of liability so we choose to only do it for friends and family and in very special circumstances. Most beekeepers charge big bucks for removing a hive especially one that is as established as this bad boy! We got the call on a Saturday evening and spent an entire Sunday removing siding from an old chimney and moving the potentially five-year-old hive out of their home into a new hive box. We posted several videos on our facebook page so be sure to check us out on social media!
Once the wall covering was removed and a few wood planks pulled from the face of the chimney we quickly began to realize how HUGE this hive was! It was roughly 4 feet tall if not taller, 18 inches deep and 14 inches wide……. Holy cats batman!
Luke began pulling comb and separating the honey filled comb from the brood nest comb while I prepared frames with large rubber bands to place the nest comb into. If you put honey in the removed hives new box they will typically abscond so we chose to free feed the honeycomb back to our bee yard.
Once the frames with brood comb were placed inside the hive box the bees settled down and went back to working the nest. When we were about halfway done removing the hive we had to pull out the vacuum as there was simply to many bees to continue working. Luke was stung about 5 times as he accidentally crushed bees trying to organize the crazy mess they had built into the chimney space. This is truly a labor of love!
Once we cleaned up the hive mass we put the chimney back together and informed the property owners it would continue to be an attractive location for bees in the future if the space was not sealed off in some way. We quickly cleaned up our equipment and in the process, I got stung when I accidentally squished a bee between my hand and the spare frames I was putting back into the truck. That stink felt like a lightning bolt and I let out a quick scream! Our honey bee stings do not usually hurt as bad as these wild bee stings do! All in all, the hive was quite docile and we are happy to welcome the genetics to our bee yard.
And a week later we received a swarm call. Thank goodness Luke was still in town to take the call and made quick work of a swarm 25 feet up on a tree branch. Word of mouth sure does move quickly in a small town. Luke asked me to snap a photo of the swarm queen in our queen clip for all to see. Sorry for the blurry image but you can see her in the left corner hanging out and ready to return to her hive body.
The swarm was placed into a new hive box with a queen excluder to entice her to stay in the box and begin to lay. In a few days, I will remove the excluder and we will continue to watch her and the hive grow into their new home.