Bird house and duck house
Got a call last night from an older gentlemen who said he had bees in his Kestrel Box (Kestler is a small falcon) and that they were hanging out. Swarm must have moved in earlier and have filled the box up. He said the box is nailed 20-30 feet up in a tree. What are the odds of getting this down without either killing myself or the bees? Should I treat it like a nuc and try and overwinter in the box or try and move it right away into standard equiment? How?
After we finished the conversation about the Kestrel Box he mentioned that he had a pond and a duck box in it that was also full of bees! He thought that we would have to wait until the pond freezes to get out to this one.
I am going to ride by this afternoon and take a look at both of these and see how much life and limb I am willing to risk.
Getting the bees down without killing bees is not a problem. They bee tuff. My guess would be the mortality rate on the bees would be from stings inflicted on the preditor that is messing with there home. As for other injuries. Only you can decide if you can do it with out injury to yourself. I would leave them in the box until spring. Chances are if they dont make it thru to spring in the birdhouse they probably wouldnt make it thru in a nuc. Bees Can be hardy creatures left alone on there own. They have been doing it long before we decided to put them in little white boxes. The bees dont have much time to straightening out mans interventions this time of the year to give them much chance to make it thru the winter.
Well, I did one somewhat like this. It was in a squirrel feeder that the homeowner had wired into an alder tree about 15 ft above the ground. He discovered the bees the previous fall when he opened the bottom & pulled out the accumulated leaves & stuff (surprise). I got the call in the spring when comb was hanging down below the bottom of the box & it was completely covered in bees. My approach was to go up in the daytime with a beesuit, attach a rope to box & unwire it from the tree, so that the box was still in the same position, but just hanging from the rope. Then about dark I went back & pulled a garbage sack up over the whole box & tied it around the rope. Then from the ground I could lower the whole thing. It went smoothly with no stings. However, prying out nails or cutting them off might not go so smoothly.
It was spring, so I opened up the box & rubber banded the comb into frames, but this time of year, I would leave them alone, or maybe feed them, but not attempt a transfer till spring.
You could wait until winter to remove the boxes and move them to a suitable location. Then if they survive in the spring put them in hives and return the birds nests to the owner.
I did a removal of one in a duck house. Bees moved in and evicted the poor ducks.
When I opened it up to cut out the bees and comb, I found 4 eggs in the bottom of the box. So I know the parent ducks must have had a really bad day. They went out to eat for a bit and came back and could not get in to their young. I wished I could have seen the battle. I'm sure the ducks were really ticked off and so were the bees.
Mine worked out fine as I did it mid-summer. As for your location, you'll have to ask others more knowledgeable about your winters. I live in Orlando, and we don't really have a winter here.