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Thread: Trap-Out method

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  1. #1

    Arrow Trap-Out method

    I am a newbie to beekeeping, have only been keeping hives again for a few years. I just began catching swarms with the hope of building up my small apiary. I've found there is a lot I don't know and a lot to learn.

    The local agricultural center is, as well as pest control companies, giving out names of people on their lists who remove swarms. Like other beekeeps in the area, I'm getting calls about swarms moving into or becoming established in houses. I've never tried to remove a swarm from a house and I did not realize until talking with Iddee that there was another way (the trap-out method) of successfully removing bees from a home, other than getting a carpenter and actually going into the structure and removing them and the comb, which is costly to the homeowner and which I have no experience doing. Many people can't afford to do this.

    The other alternatives seemed to be to either live with the honeybees, which most people, don't want to do, find a way to make them leave, or kill them. If they are killed or made to leave, the honey still remains in the walls and will cause a problem, draw more bees or other insects. So I was for awhile at a loss on what to advise people to do.

    I read about putting steel wool in the entrance where they were coming and going from, advised folks that called as best I could when they indicated they could not afford to have construction done or when they chose to kill the bees instead of having them removed. This resulted, apparently, in a few colonies being killed. Though I was trying to help people who had these insects invade their homes, I wish I'd never advised them. If people choose to kill honeybees then that's their choice but it's not mine.

    Other beekeepers in the area also are advising that they can't remove the bees from houses and for folks to call the exterminators. I got a call this afternoon from a woman who had bees going into her brick foundation and had gotten into the insulation and in the house. The ag center had given her several references for folks to call to remove them. It was later in the afternoon before I received her message and could explain to her about the trap-out method and that the bees could have been removed without being killed. She had contacted other beekeeps who told her nothing could be done and it was best to exterminate them. By the time I spoke with her she had called a pest control company and had them exterminated.

    These beekeeps didn't know they could be removed with the trap-out method.
    Few beekeps who remove bees seem to use this method, many like me did not know about it, even the bee person at the Forsyth Agricultural Center hadn't heard of it and had trouble understanding how it worked. I did too at first until I saw Iddee use it.

    The Forsyth County Beekeepers Association has a website and a section on honeybee removal. They state that " Trapping is sometimes done, but it is rarely practical because it takes several weeks and doesn't remove 100% of the bees. If you do decide to exterminate them, any large quantities of honey left behind should be removed to avoid staining and destruction of inside walls or ceilings. The honey and nest debris may also attract other bees, insect pests and rodents."

    Yet Iddee says the Trap Out method he uses works, and that the bees will go in and remove the honey. Wouldn't it be more practical and certainly beneficial to use this method? In it, apparently, the bees exit via a cone that they cannot enter back in through. The trap-out is left in place until the bees have left the house and made their home in a nearby hive that has brood comb in it. Once the colony is established the trap out (cone over the entrance) is taken down, the bees go in and remove the honey but return to the hive, their new home, rather than remain in the house. Then, the entrance to the house closed up so other bees can't get in. It’s not inexpensive, but certainly it is not as expensive as tearing into a home or office building, or paying someone to go in and take out the bees comb but leave the resulting repairs needed the burden of the homeowner. And as bees are needed it seems most prudent and practical.

    And given that more bees are needed, and more beekeepers, couldn’t some sort of grant be developed to help homeowners with the costs of this kind of removal? Maybe beekeepers that do these removals could be paid through these funds, offsetting their expenses and the resulting expense to the homeowners, encouraging apiculture?
    Last edited by gingerbee; 05-13-2008 at 07:08 PM.
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  2. #2
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    Bees may remove the honey, but they won't remove the rest of the organic matter(residual honey, dead bees and larvae, wax, pollen, etc. that will attract vermin. The queen will seldom leave and there will always be a few bees that won't leave either.

    The homeowner should be willing to pay. I don't see how a grant(from what source?)could work. I think homeowner's insurance should pay.Whether it does or not, I have no idea.
    Banjos and bees... how sweet it is!

  3. #3

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    Hi Beegee

    Even so, it would save most of the colony and if brood was provided they could make their own queen.

    Some folks simply can't afford the cost of going in and removing the bees and comb. Some don't care, bees and beekeeping isn't their concern (a lack of food might change their perspective).

    Homeowner's is an idea worth suggesting but I don't even know if our own would cover removal.

    A grant from where? USDA maybe could develop one? It just seems a lot of colonies could be saved.
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  4. #4
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    >>>>The queen will seldom leave and there will always be a few bees that won't leave either. <<<<

    I challenge you to open a hive I have trapped out and prove this statement. In my opinion, it is false. The queen will come out and every adult, live bee in the cavity will come out with her. Once a cavity is robbed out, there is very little left, and nothing to run and damage the dwelling. Old wax, dried and brittle, can be found in many buildings. It does no harm.

    Too many statements are made after an incomplete or improper trapout is made.

  5. #5
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    Iddee:

    Can you give us a step by step instruction on how to do a trap out. What is involved, what steps are needed, common mistakes and things to look out for.

    Thank you in advance! (p.s by the way, another round of packets are going out this week and yours is included.)
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  6. #6
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    I have a friend who removed 2 55-gallon drums of debris from a wall hive. Roaches, dead mice,ants, etc. I don't think I'd like to leave that in my walls. A couple of us did a removal from an old barn last year. The combs were 8' long and there was 1-2' of crap in the bottom of the wall cavity.

    I have another friend who routinely traps bees out of buildings and he tells me that he seldom gets the queen. Even if he does, he requeens that colony.

    I'm fixin' to trap some bees from an oak tree with one entrance hole 3' off the ground. Should be easy. I don't know how you'd know if the queen comes out, because by the time she does, they will have made a new one. I'll give them as long as they need to get every single live bee out. I figure 6-8 weeks.

    Your mileage may vary.

    I have no argument against trap-outs. But, sometimes it's not worth doing several hundreds of $$ worth of labor for $60 worth of bees of questionable health and origin.

    Grants...If we can't get the gummint(taxpayers)to allocate more than $4 million for CCD research nationwide, how do you suppose you'll get them to pony up enough money to pay all bee wranglers to remove all the swarms that are in houses and other cavities across the country? What about liability? Will the grant cover a botched removal or injury to the beekeeper and his helpers or the homeowner and neighbors or onlookers and damage to his property? Would the grant provider or referring agency become an accessory defendant in a lawsuit? How would labor rates be pro-rated for each job, based on whose estimates? I'm just asking....
    Banjos and bees... how sweet it is!

  7. #7
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    I have a trap-out procedure that I have used with some success. Here it is:

    1. Eliminate all but one entrance/exit
    2. Place a screen cone 18 inches long that tapers to an opening of 3/8 inch over the exit hole.
    3. Place a hive containing one frame of unsealed brood, some honey and empty combs near the apex of the cone and at a right angle to it.
    4. Check often for additional exits/entrances leaving hive in place for 30 days.
    5. After 6 weeks remove the cone, place 1 Tsp of sulfur power in lit smoker and puff into the old entrance hole. This kills any remaining bees or queen.
    6. The next day, smear some honey into and around the entrance to incite robbing by the bees that are now in the hive.
    7. When robbing stops, remove the hive at night when bees are inside.

    Any ideas for improving upon this method will be appreciated. I have used this procedure for removing bees from trees and from a few buildings. I post it here in the hope that other experienced trappers will offer instructive comments. Unfortunately, many in my area advise homeowners with bees in a wall to dust the nest with 5% Sevin.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeeAware View Post
    place 1 Tsp of sulfur power in lit smoker and puff into the old entrance hole. This kills any remaining bees or queen.
    Is this the same as used for acidifying soil? What are the hazards?

  9. #9
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    Chef, your PM box is full. Clear some of them out.

  10. #10
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    Just did Iddee. It would be great if you could resend it.
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  11. #11
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    Iddee - is a 5 deep-frame nuc-box used for catching swarms big enough to do a trapout? I figure I can transfer them to a regular hive when I get them back home.

    Be well,
    Mike

  12. #12
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    Mike, a trap out is used to trap a colony of bees. How many bees are in the colony? If it is a swarm that just moved in, a nuc may hold them. If it has been there for 3 plus years, it may take 3 deeps to hold them all. It is best to start with a deep hive body. If it fills up with bees, swap it for an empty and keep trapping. If the structure empties before they fill 5 frames, transfer it to a nuc then.

  13. #13
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    Thanks. From my cutouts in the first half of the season it just seemed like there wasn't that many bees to warrant all that extra space even for multi-year hives since the buildup hadn't kicked in heavily yet. I've yet to do a post-buildup cutout tho excepting a tree-cutout last weekend but from what I've seen, trees usually don't generally seem to have as many bees as a residential wall cavity thanks to less room and frequent swarming. Just wanted to get several going at once and was looking for ways to save a bit during the trapout so I could spend more on the actual hives since I use long hives rather than vertical Langs.

    Be well,
    Mike

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