Late this summer I had a large swarm of bees make their home in a styrophome cooler I had in my back yard. The cooler was used for fishing worms. It is 2'x2'x3'. It has a 2"x4" air vent on the side. The bees entered through the vent. I have picked up the cooler and moved it and the bees did not bother me. The cooler felt very heavy I would think over 60lbs. They stayed in the area I moved them to and it is by a fruit orchard. I would like to keep them and harvest the honey but I left them alone so they would make through winter. I have no bee tools or hives. Any comments or advise would be appreciated.
You should start with some protection equipment. Nice bees may not be so friendly when you open the colony. You can get this from Dadant, Brushy Mountain, Betterbee, Kelly, ect. Then you will need a few hive bodies with frames. You will need a hive tool as your going to do some prying to get the lid off. Once you get the lid off hang it with all the combs between two sawhorses so the combs don't bust or break off. Cut the combs off the lid and cut to the shape of the frame and insert using rubberbands to hold them in place. You could also make some swarm catching frames they are on this site under plans build it. I'll stop for now as I don't know your experience level. It can be quite the process transfering bees to a hive.
Wouldn't it be best to wait until Spring so that the bees can build back up and to prevent chilling? It's pretty chilly here in Texas right now, so I bet Ok is the same.
I tore into this kind of thing by myself when I didn't have a lot of experiece, but I did have a bee suit with a zip on veil, rubber banded legs bee gloves (Gauntlets?) a smoker and had read everything I could lay my hands on. Still it was a learning experience. The best thing to do is find someone who knows what they are doing to help. I would wait until spring now. Basically I'd do what Clayton is suggesting. I sort out the honey and throw it in a 5 gal bucket with a lid (keep the lid on to keep out the bees who want to get back on their comb) and put the brood into frames with rubber bands. It is a long and messy process and will thoroughly anger the bees by the time you are done. I would be surprised if you didn't get stung at least once or twice and maybe more. Between the ones that finally find a way in somewhere and the ones who finally find some clothes stretched tight enough to get a stinger in you. If I were doing it now, with a lot of experience at it, I wouldn't be surprised to get stung, but I would think I'd have a 50 50 chance at getting it done without, because I'm much faster at it now than then. One of the hardest things to find is that happy medium of accepting that you will squash and drown some bees while at the same time minimizing it. You have to figure out when it's worth being more careful (which takes more time and gives them more chance to get angry) and when to be more careless (which kills more bees). The object is to kill as few as possible and save as much brood as possible. The pictures in the Plans section on the "Swarm catching frames" are very educational as to what it is you are trying to accomplish. The combs need to be oreinted top and bottom the way they were in the original hive If you get them upside down they will slope down hill toward the opening on the comb. If you aren't willing to get stung I wouldn't do it. Good luck.
A good bee vac makes that kind of job easier with less dead and gooed up bees too.
I've had the Bee vac kill a lot of bees. If it's adjusted perfectly it can save a lot of bees. I'm not sure a beginner would want to try it right off. And it's another piece of equipment.
If you want to buy a bee vac here's what I'd do then. Put a screen cone over the main entrance and cover any other entrances. Do this on a nice sunny day when the bees are flying. Wait for the huge bee beard and vacum it off. You'll only run the vacumn for a few seconds and very few bees will be harmed. If you have the kind with a bee cage of some sort in it, you could have several cages and do this a couple of times. Then when you tear into hive you won't have nearly as many bees to mess with.
I have never had my bee vac kill a lot of bees, just a few which I attribute more to scrapping them with the nozzle against the comb. Also, any bumps that they hit against as they slide down the hose will kill them. Make sure that the hose fits outside the nozzle, and inside the fitting at the vacuum, that way no ridges on the way down. My very small vac is fitted on the top of a five gallon bucket, and I have several buckets and lids that are screened that match the vac lid. I can have several buckets for the hive as to not crowd them. Only a few dead ones in each bucket of thousands.
I have several similar wild hives that I just super up as is and eventually trap the queen in one of the standard boxes. That eliminates a comb transer, and they often make a full crop for a few years !
>I have never had my bee vac kill a lot of bees, just a few which I attribute more to scrapping them with the nozzle against the comb. Also, any bumps that they hit against as they slide down the hose will kill them.
I had an old shop vac that worked really well right out of the box. I lost it somewhere along the way and tried another new shop vac and killed a lot of bees. I guess it depends on the strength of the motor and the design of the vac. I have a bee vac now and a damper on the shop vac and on the bee vac. It works ok, but not as well as that first shop vac did.
>I have several similar wild hives that I just super up as is and eventually trap the queen in one of the standard boxes. That eliminates a comb transer, and they often make a full crop for a few years !
This sounds like an ideal solution. I guess I wasn't thinking. I usually have to get them out of houses and trees, but this is already portable and you could just get a way for them to get into and fill up a regular box and maybe they would move up eventually.
Howdy All -
It would be best to wait till spring to remove the bees. A bee vac would be the best approach, but one point which has not been mentioned is --- do not vacc the bees off of broken comb so that honey is pulled in with the bees. This will kill a lot of bees. I usually take 2 or 3 gathering of comb so the
last of the bees have cleaned up all exposed honey.
You could rig up a feeder in the top of the
ice chest to feed them this winter to insure
that they survive the winter. I use a 3/16" x 1" copper tube soldered to the lid of a jar and let this go down through a 1/4" hole
drilled in the top. If the bees reach the starvation point, they can cluster around the end of the tube to get syrup.
Tom in Sapulpa, OK I was into my hives over Thanksgiving weekend. Even though it was sunny it was still cool and they were not happy. I would suggest leaving them till spring. And while I''m making suggestions does anyone else think that this could make a good TBH? What about mite treatment? I wonder if they need it to make it through the winter?
TBH? Thanksgiving Bee Hive? Tasty Bee Honey? Too Bad Huh?
As for mite treatment, I doubt that they would need it. It's a six month old colony with good stores and a protectful beekeeper. They will be fine, just wait for spring and put a hive body on top of it with bee-pro and syrup on top of that and they will move up by themselves. Then put a queen excluder inbetween the cooler and hive body and eventuly remove the cooler when they have moved the honey up.
Thats How By-golly! Oh, I guess that's not TBH...
You could fog with FGMO but that would be about the only thing you could do for mites easily. I'm guessing it won't matter, but you never know.
I suppose styrofoam would work for a top bar hive (TBH). I've heard of them being made of carboard with some varnish or wax on it. I'm not sure how it would age.
I agree that the best thing is to super it and get them to move out on their own, but if they don't, I'd go to the cone and vacumn method.
This is a question/comment on Doc Rogers' use of a copper tube to feed bees through. Doc, do you notice an excess of dead bees when you use that device? The reason I ask is that invertebrates (that is all creatures without a spinal cord, that is bugs, slugs, crabs, etc., and I guess also bees) are VERY sensitive to copper, meaning it kills them easily. How do I know? I am a biologist and I do research on crabs, lobsters and crayfish (invertebrates), and a colleague recently went through a 4 month spell in which every crab he and his students used for an experiment died. In his desperation he learnt that copper is nasty for most of these little beasts and that he had a copper contamination. Anybody here keeps an acquarium as well as bees? If so, you may have used copper sulfate to treat certain diseases. If so, you may have noticed that all the snails you may have had in the tank died along with the disease.
Anyway, just curious to know if your copper pipe is not doing something more to your bees.
Howdy Jorge =-
No problem at all with the copper tube.
Maybe because no copper is in solution.