First cut out - not for the faint-hearted!
On Saturday, I did my first cut out, out of a rental house (I work for the rental agency) that had called. Going into my second year of beekeeping, I was excited to try out a cut-out, with the help of one of the guys on our maintenance staff. We set up scaffolding (6 feet high) and Saturday turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day in the 70's, perfect weather. The bees POURED out of the wall when the maintenance guy took the siding off the wall. They were NOT very happy when we started pulling off the the walls and disturbing their colony and sucking them up in the bee vac! I got stung a few times (my ankle is still swollen up like a cantaloupe), but I was trying to work as fast I could cutting the combs and fitting and rubber-banding them into deep frames, as our maintenance guy kept pulling combs out of the wall.
It took about three hours, and there were STILL a lot of bees clustering by the walls, behind the chimney, so I wonder if we were able to retrieve all the comb. We realized it later that the bees may be in the attic, or behind the chimney, and the job may be over our heads... but we did as best as we could. I think I was surprised at how brutal a cut-out was for the bees. So many casualties, so many damaged combs (I was only able to get 9 deep frames of salvageable comb), and lots of stressed and angry bees! I'm inclined to think this hive won't make it, especially because I couldn't tell if we got the queen or if she survived.
I transferred them over out of the bee-vac yesterday - set them up with a new hive, next to my 2 other hives in the backyard. They were still VERY aggressive! Gave my husband a nasty sting below his eye (his eye this morning looked like my ankle)! Are bees usually this aggressive after a cut-out, being so stressed? They are darker in color than my docile Italians... the thought has crossed my mind that maybe they are partially africanized.... there have been reports in TN, just 4 hrs away. It's hard to say, but I'm going to leave them alone for at least a week or two before I check on them.
That said.... I have a new respect for beekeepers who do cut-outs on a regular basis! I think next time I'll call one of them.
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