So, I did my first cutout here in the seething heart of AHB country. Wow. What a learning experience.

The bees were a 3-4 year old hive in a small 5x7' storage shed, inside the space between the plywood ceiling panels and the roof. There was about 4 feet of comb (30 or so decent sized combs). I took pics but have to figure out how to post them.

The hive had not been particularly aggressive towards the owners. But, when I pulled down that plywood ceiling panel, hooh-boy, they got more than a bit peeved with me. I had about 30-50 bees swarming me the whole time, despite smoking like a madman around myself. The smoke hardly seemed to phase them. They actually bothered me much less when I was close to the comb. When I left the shed to go to my truck, they REALLY got mad. I walked about 75 yards, running my smoker constantly, but still had 20-30 bees following me.

I had timed this so that the sun would go down while doing it, and thats the only thing that really came to my rescue. Once night fell, I was able to leave without a cloud of bees around me.

Tried my beevac, but it wasn't working. So, I ended up with a lot of dead bees. After having been stung a half a dozen times, I wasn't feeling very remorseful.

I didn't get all the comb out- I'm going back tonight with a ladder and some tools to finish it up. This is my first, so I'm not charging for it, but I can honestly say it's the LAST one I will ever do for free.

Lessons learned:

1- Dadants Cricket beesuit WORKS. I think I got stung twice through it, and if I had had long sleeves on underneath, probably wouldnt have. Still, something like a Tyvek jacket over the beesuit would be helpful.
2- Gloves are extremely important. I had rubber grouters gloves from Home Depot, and while these did ok, I still got stung on my hand a couple times, and the glove tore so i fixed it with duct tape. I needed something even stronger/thicker. I think something like Hexarmor needlestick resistant gloves would be ideal.
3- Have an equipment checklist. I forgot some stuff which is why I have to go back.
4- AHBs are best handled at night, unless you like parking your vehicle a half mile away.
5- Smoke heavily, but it's a mild deterrent at best. I can understand now why Latin American beeks have HUGE smokers.
6- Bring extra boxes for comb.
7- Bring a plastic dropcloth to catch honey.

I didn't end up getting very many bees. I rubber-banded some brood and honeycomb into an 8 frame hive body and left the buckets with the comb (and attached bees) next to it. This morning there is some activity around the buckets, but not the hive. It certainly seems I have a lot fewer bees.

What a horrible, sticky mess. I had to take my truck to the carwash at midnight to hose out the dead bees and honey.