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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    El Dorado, CA
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    5

    Default fallen bee tree - how to collect bees

    An oak with a hive recently split with the majority of the hive falling to the ground. The bees are still clustered in the fallen log and there appears to be quite a bit of comb. Ideas on how to capture and hive? Should I just try to collect the honey? I don't know if there is even a queen.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Covington, Ga, USA
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    1,549

    Default Re: fallen bee tree - how to collect bees

    If i were you, i would look solidly for a queen. She is somewhere. You could also take the comb and tie it into frames, from what i hear, and set the hive down really close to the tree. They should start to make that their new home....IMHO
    "You laugh at me because I am different, but I laugh at you because you are all the same."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Hartwell, Ga.
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    127

    Default Re: fallen bee tree - how to collect bees

    If the tree is wide open exposing most of the comb, you may be able to set up a hive box really close to them and they may go in sooner or later. However if you can find the queen and move that piece of comb in the hive box, you'd be better off.
    I had a person call me with the same type of tree he's cut down, the bees had left the tree and were just in a big pile on the ground. I put a hive box near and they marched in.

    I've also tried to cut the comb out and tie it in frames and put it in the hive box. If their home is totally destroyed, they won't stay there long.

    Good luck
    Bobby
    In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    155

    Default Re: fallen bee tree - how to collect bees

    There are experienced beeks that I am sure will help you here. I will give you my quick 2 cents. You can try to save this hive. Do you have an empty hive with some frames? If so, you can cut out as much comb as you can and attach it to the empty frames. If there is capped brood, the bees will stay with the brood. If there are any beeks in the area, they can help you spot the queen if she is still alive.
    Again, there will probably be some experienced people that can give you more info, but I wanted to give you hope of saving the hive.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Madison, Alabama
    Posts
    358

    Default Re: fallen bee tree - how to collect bees

    You could always use a beevac and just move them all to a new hive box.
    Rohe Bee Ranch "Free Range Bees"
    http://www.rohebeeranch.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    2,709

    Default Re: fallen bee tree - how to collect bees

    Use a chainsaw to open the log if you don't have full access to the combs. Use a knife to cut the brood combs out, and then rubberband them into empty frames (no foundation).

    I don't bother trying to cut out combs of honey and rubberband them into frames. I try to avoid removing combs of honey if I don't have to while I am doing a cutout. Honey is very messy, and you end up with everything honey covered and end up killing a lot of bees for no reason. After I have cut out all the brood comb and rubberbanded it into framed, only then will will I even think about removing honey combs. The combs of honey go into a bucket to use as bee feed. (really nice pieces of clean comb sometimes get saved for eating, but most of the honey goes back to the bees.

    I have found it is very helpful to have an assistant. I can cut a piece of comb covered in bees and hold it in place in an empty frame, but the assistant's extra set of hands to put the rubber bands on makes it much easier. (If you used the Lusby type hinged frames with wires on each side for doing cutouts, it probably wouldn't be as bad doing it by yourself.)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Battle Ground, Wa
    Posts
    198

    Default Re: fallen bee tree - how to collect bees

    Well, around here it would probably be a lost cause, as its too late in the season, but down where you are it might work fine. I did one this spring where they had fallen a large maple & then discovered the bees after the tree broke open. The comb was pretty messed up & I only got about 5 frames worth of brood, & three five gallon buckets of squashed comb & a couple chunks of wood with honey comb. I just used some regular frames, only I put nails in one side of the end bars & then wired them up so the wires were on one side of the frame instead of in the middle. That way I could lay a comb on the wires & after it was rubber banded in it was reasonably centered in the frame.

    I had a beevac, which made it much easier to gather up the loose bees, but if you don't, just put the hive box with the brood in it over the biggest concentration of bees you can find & come back about dusk to pick them up. You might also consider using a smoker to herd some of the scattered bees toward your box, but I didn't have much luck with that. I would be concerned about robbing with that amount of honey exposed this late in the season, but not sure what your conditions are. Oh, when in doubt about a queen, give then a frame with some new eggs. Its a bit late for that also, but you can try.

    The bright side is that if you do nothing the bees will die or move on, so its a great learning experience & you might end up with a good hive. The one I got this spring has done well for me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    El Dorado, CA
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    5

    Default Re: fallen bee tree - how to collect bees

    Thanks everyone for all the advice. I'm ready to give it a go. There's still a good month plus of nice weather here - its going to be in the 90's here today. Hopefully the bees are still there and nothing has disturbed them. I'll post an update.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    2,709

    Default Re: fallen bee tree - how to collect bees

    You could also cut the log down to just the portion of the log with the bees in it, and take that log section home. Allow them to overwinter in the log, since they already have it set up the way they want. Then next spring if they have survived, do the cutout then.

    I know a guy that cuts timber who brought a bee tree log home. He left the log laying on its side. The bees moved down the cavity and drew new combs. The following spring, we didn't have any problems doing a cutout and putting the bees into a hive.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Barry, TX USA
    Posts
    862

    Default Re: fallen bee tree - how to collect bees

    I've found that bees in a felled tree are pretty docile over the years. It's almost like they collectively understand their home is destroyed and they need your help.

    As others have said, save the honey to feed them. Try to get all of the brood comb and put it in frames. I don't like the rubber band or string tying methods of securing comb in empty frames. I like to wind the cotton string around the frame like this guy does in this video. If you look at about 2:57 he wraps a single piece of string around the frame. No knots or tying. Really quite simple.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoLxfMyCql0

    The bees will drag out the string after they've secured the comb. Very easy to accomplish with gloved hands.

    For a really sweet arrangement, look at the build it yourself section at the Lusby swarm frames. I built some and I like them alot. They make a cutout go much faster and I've had some luck moving frames of honey comb with them. I was able to do it without making a mess.

    Good luck with it. Take your time and enjoy it. It's not everyday that you get to cutout a bee tree. It's a fun and unique experience. We just had a pipeline built through our area and a friend had four or five hives cut down on his land. Unfortunately, he didn't think about me. The pipeline workers would have really appreciated it if I had come and removed the bees. Missed opportunity.
    When you stop learning you're dead.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Orlando, FL
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    1,313

    Default Re: fallen bee tree - how to collect bees

    I wanted to write in to add weight to the opinion about not keeping too much honey comb. My experience has been it is better to take most of the honey as bee feed, and leave them just a little of the capped brood. A few young larvae in case they need to make a queen, but not much as they have little food to feed the larvae with.

    Also, if they have been exposed and the nights have been cool, that brood may die from chill. I tied one hive together one time and most of the brood had died and there was too much brood for the remaining bees to clean out. The brood started to rot and the bees absconded - and I don't blame them - IT SMELLED REAL BAD.
    Troy

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