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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Bradenton, FL
    Posts
    5

    Default Encouraging Colony to Move

    Hi all, I'm not a beekeeper (yet), but until I'm ready I have another issue I could really use some help on. I have a big dead oak tree about 8' from my garage, and it has a pretty large colony of bees in it. The tree needs to be removed before it falls on the garage, but none of the arborists I've talked to will touch it until the bees are relocated. Unfortunately, since it's so close to the garage and some of my neighbor's buildings, it will have to be removed with the help of a crane.

    My arborist put me in touch with a local beekeeper, but the only solution he had was to fell the tree and do a cut-out, something that's not an option due to the crane. I contacted another local beekeeper from the local apiary club, and he agreed there was no way to do a trap-out due to all of the knots and holes in the tree. One of the beekeepers also mentioned a chemical repellent, but I'm still waiting for him to get back to me (I think he may have lost interest after salvaging bees and/or honey was more or less ruled out with the repellent).

    So, do I have any other options? I was thinking I might be able to rig up a hose, misting nozzle, and irrigation timer to periodically spray water inside the trunk, the idea being to make it an inhospitable place for the colony and encourage them to move. I'm not in a HUGE hurry to get rid of the tree, but it's in pretty bad shape so the sooner the better. Some photos below, and a video to help show the traffic in/out (sorry it's so shaky).

    Thanks!
    Matt





  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Grayson, KY
    Posts
    276

    Default Re: Encouraging Colony to Move

    Could you seal them inside and then remove tree in sections?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Bradenton, FL
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Encouraging Colony to Move

    Quote Originally Posted by BigGun View Post
    Could you seal them inside and then remove tree in sections?
    I wish that were possible, but that won't work for the same reason a trap-out won't work: there are literally dozens of openings (cracks, knots, broken branches) in the tree.

    Sounds like no one else has a better idea, so I guess I'll give my sprayer idea a shot. If not, may have to use the last resort...

    Matt

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    608

    Default Re: Encouraging Colony to Move

    Gator

    It looks to me like you can make a trunk cut about 4-5 feet above the colony entrance with the assistance of the crane (and operator). The crane is probably going to be parked a long ways from the bees. Someone needs to explain to the operator that he will not be around when the bottom fortion of the tree and bees is felled. It appears from the photos that you could then cut the lower remaining portion of the tree down and let an experienced beekeeper open it up to relocate the bees. Are the bees overly aggressive? If not you should be fine.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    1,313

    Default Re: Encouraging Colony to Move

    I love my bees and never advocate killing them if it can be prevented..... That being said - as soon as you start talking about things like cranes and professional help and the liability of that huge tree falling on your building or worse yet your neighbors.....

    That is where I draw the line. My advice is to have them professionally removed. Then later if you feel bad for doing that, get yourself a couple bee hives and take care of them for the next 20 years. Bad Karma can be replaced with Good Karma.

    Besides, you will have so much fun with your bees you will soon forget about this one negative thing you had to do.
    Troy

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Denton, TX
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Encouraging Colony to Move

    go to www.dadant.com and purchase a product called beequick.
    here is a linkThere are other products available similar to it..go with whatever is cheapest.
    Drill holes in the tree until you hit the top of the bee hive (cavaty) and then squirt that stuff in. The bees will pour out of the tree...keep going until they stop pouring out. Brush them away from the hole as they are coming out. Once you have what you think is almost all of them out. Seal that baby up with something..anything. The bees will now not be able to return and will look for other hives. The queen will probably still be in there, but you would have removed most of the bees. Remove the tree asap after.
    Better to set them free than to exterminate them.
    9/11/01 NEVER Forget! 343

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Bradenton, FL
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Encouraging Colony to Move

    Awesome advice! I've emailed the Bee Quick people to make sure they think their product would work and to get usage and amount advice. I'll ask the same questions here since it sounds like you're experienced with it:

    1) Assuming there is no way for me to seal up the tree (there are dozens of holes, some of them 40+ feet high), what are my options?
    2) How long would Bee Quick keep them away from the hive? e.g. Is this something I'd need to do immediately before the arborists come or could I do it a day or two early to make sure it works? I'd prefer the latter since the expensive part of the equation is the crane....

    Thanks again!
    Matt

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Landing, NJ, USA
    Posts
    197

    Default Re: Encouraging Colony to Move

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...-trap-out.-HOW
    Read this thread, Cleo C Hogan's trap may be useful to you. The interior of the tree may not be as interconnected as you think. Try plugging what you feel comfortable reaching perhaps it will be enough. A wad of coarse steel wool stuffed into a hole should block it effectively and is easy. Much of the top of the tree could probably be removed with the bees in the tree. Maybe you could offer beesuits to the tree men to lessen their reluctance.
    Bill

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Bradenton, FL
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Encouraging Colony to Move

    Many thanks for the additional responses. I'm reading and thinking through them, and will report back once I figure out a plan. I may try to get back in touch with the local people again and see if they can help with any of these.

    Below is the response I received from James Fischer, the maker of Fischer's Bee Quick. I'm astonished and grateful for the time he took to reply to my query, and he agreed for me to post it here to add to the conversation and in case someone in the same situation comes across this thread in the future:

    Please feel free to post this message in its entirety to your bulletin-board discussion, as techniques for removing bees vary with the specific case at hand, and online misinformation is far more common than accurate information.

    When Bee-Quick is used in this sort of situation, one most often uses a hole saw or large diameter wood-boring bit on a brace and bit to drill a hole at the point in the cavity furthest from and opposite the entrance. One finds the extent of the cavity with a cordless drill and a cable-tv installer’s long drill bit, drilling and plugging holes as one goes (plugging the holes as you go with window putty because each hole might become an new exit for bees) One then plugs a shop-vac hose into the exhaust port of a shop-vac, so that air blows out the hose, and then places a Bee-Quick soaked cloth over the end of the hose, followed by whatever kludge adapter has been fabricated to fit the hole you drilled or cut.

    With generous use of Bee-Quick, stopping the shop-vac and re-soaking the cloth several times, the bees will leave the hive, and even the queen will leave. But leave for where? Most often, they will gather on the outside surface of the tree, where they can be brushed into a box or a bee-vac can be used to gather them up, but this is not a task for a novice with zero experience. Many experienced beekeepers own Bee-Vacs for tougher removal jobs, some of us constantly design new tweaks for bee-vacs. From the look of your tree, a bee-vac will be needed to get all the bees off the surface of the tree, or a skilled beekeeper will have to find the queen, get her into a cardboard nuc or whatever, to start the parade of bees into the box to join the queen (something worth filming if you see it).

    (We have quietly sold a “stronger” version of Bee-Quick to selected bee removal professionals since 1999 for use in difficult cases that we named “Bee-Done”. It has rarely been needed, and is far too volatile/corrosive a liquid to sell to anyone but licensed and insured professionals.)

    In your case, I’d suggest that the best approach would be to NOT buy Bee-Quick, but to use a direct mechanical approach:

    1. Get some pallet wrap – it looks like a giant roll of Saran Wrap, and it is. It is sold where boxes and shipping/warehouse supplies are sold.
    2. Get up there with a ladder or bucket truck and wrap the tree to enclose the bees. Lay a hunk of window screen over the uppermost entrance and staple the screen to the tree, wrapping over the edges of the screen with the pallet wrap to make a true bee-proof seal. Keep wrapping in the up and down direction until you have a good six feet up and down from the entrance wrapped. You have now enclosed the bees, and have an hour or two to figure out where to cut above and below the “bee section” to separate it from the rest of the tree, and remove the bees. You may think that you have a swiss-cheese like situation with dozens of bee entrances, but I suspect that you have far fewer entrances to the actual bee cavity, as bees do not like having to defend multiple entrances, and tend to abscond from trees that rot to the point of forcing them to “live in the open” with too many entrances.
    3. “But what about returning foragers?” You ask. That’s an astute question. I like duct-taping a “catch box” above the location of the main entrance, a medium USPS flat-rate box is a good size. I put a queen pheromone lure and a damp sponge inside. The pheromone lure attracts the bees and keeps them in the box, and the damp sponge gives them some moisture they’ll need after a foraging trip. A two-inch diameter hole is fine.
    4. Now that the bees are enclosed and the returning foragers are handled, the arborist or you can take a cordless drill fitted with a cable-tv installer’s 24-inch long drill bit and drill exploratory holes to find the uppermost and lowest reaches of the bee cavity, plugging holes as you go with window putty, just to be sure. The tree can also be “topped” with the bees confined, which should make everyone happier, as the part of the tree that endangers your garage can be removed right off the bat.
    5. The section of the tree containing the bee cavity can be removed as a single unit, and lowered to the ground away from the trunk of the tree where a qualified beekeeper can split open the log and remove the comb and bees. This is not a job for an inexperienced beekeeper to try alone. Mentoring and oversight is required if the hive is to survive the process.
    6. If you guess wrong, and cut open the trunk exposing the cavity or exposing an “exit tunnel”, you can jump in with more window screen or pallet wrap to seal the opening. This will require a veil and some panache, so again, an experienced beekeeper is essential.

    Unless the day is unusually hot, a colony can tolerate being cooped up for a few hours without ill effects, so there is no need to panic and make hasty moves. In fact, the combination of heights, chainsaws, and stinging insects make this situation one where a steady hand and a calm approach is not optional, but required. If the day is warm, you can spray some water onto the screen mentioned above to help the bees cool the cavity off.

    If the job goes badly, and the tree is topped, but the bee cavity has not been removed, you can rip off the screen that covers the main entrance, and come back at the job on a later day when you a better prepared.

    I am guessing that you live in the far south from the types of vegetation in the wide shot, so waiting until it is too chilly for bees to fly to do the cutting is assumed to be impractical. If you do have a reliable “temps under 50F” period, I’d do the job during this time, as bees won’t fly much at temps under 50F.

    As an aside, you might just find yourself another arborist. Could this be the first “bee tree” he has ever seen? I’ve worked with a lot of tree-topping guys, and they tend to view stinging insects as a normal part of the job, not something over which to throw a hissy fit.

    james fischer
    fischer alchemy (makers of Bee-Quick)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Denton, TX
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Encouraging Colony to Move

    I myself have never used it to entice bees out of a tree, but have seen it done. It worked awsome! Looks like fischer's idea would work also. I just had seen it used and thought you might could give it a try. better than killing alot of bees.
    9/11/01 NEVER Forget! 343

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Bradenton,florida. usa
    Posts
    42

    Sad Re: Encouraging Colony to Move

    (I love my bees and never advocate killing them if it can be prevented..... That being said - as soon as you start talking about things like cranes and professional help and the liability of that huge tree falling on your building or worse yet your neighbors)

    Homeowner called me to checkout this tree. I have saved several hives from trees using trap outs & cut outs but the problem with this job is time on a big crane & dead tree removal in a tight spot next to two buildings.
    I have used fisher’s bee quick many times but never on a rotted tree of this size. Liability is a major issue with job.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Bradenton, FL
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Encouraging Colony to Move

    Hi Kevin! Doesn't sound good I can't say that I disagree with you on the risk, though.

    I'm kind of thinking about getting a small amount of Bee Quick, trying to flush out all of the bees I can first, and having the exterminator standing by for the rest. Or am I just delaying their deaths (via exposure or etc) and should let them all go together?

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