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Thread: My First Cutout

  1. #1

    Default My First Cutout

    I guess I'm joining the club, hope you guys don't mind. I did my first cutout this weekend, in response to a Craigslist posting about bees in a wall. I did the work for free since it was my first, and had a prior agreement with the homeowner that since I was working for free, I would do my best to be careful, but could not guarantee that I wouldn't break a board or something. It was under very old (rotting) wooden siding, inside of a 2x4 stud wall. No insulation, and the bottom row of siding was rotting from being in contact with the ground, allowing the bees access. Also they were entering around a piece of window trim. The termites had opened up some entrances for them too. I advised the homeowner that these issues needed to be addressed, or another group of bees might just move right back in. But I was also doing the work as the impression I got was that they couldn't afford to pay someone to do it. So I doubt they'll properly fix the wall anytime soon.

    Anyway, it took about 3 hours to cut out the hive. It was easy work, standing on the ground. But the hive ended up being over 5' from top to bottom. I cut about two feet worth of brood nest off the bottom, and the top 3' was all capped honey. Some of it had honey on one side, and brood on the other side. I tossed that stuff. I also did see some SHB, but those are just about everywhere down here in Houston. Then again, they may have showed up as robbers. I didn't really notice them at first, but as I worked I noticed more of them.

    It took about 30 minutes of searching, but I did catch the queen. It was odd. There were 3-4 different "clusters" that bees were all marching too, so any one of them could have had the queen. I worked each cluster as I could, taking a handful of bees and dropping them on my top cover to look for a queen as they scattered. I was starting to worry that she had crawled into another hole in the wall. At last I spotter her on the side of the wall, down near the ground. The bees were not clustering here at all. There were a lot of bees, but they were all lined up, carpeting the wall. The queen was just lined up with them. Odd. When I picked her up she tried to fly, but didn't get far. She did a quick U-turn and actually landed on my leg. Queen catcher in hand, I snatched her up. The bees continued to cluster up around the top of the wall where bits of comb remain. I returned yesterday with some BeeQuick, and easily dispersed them. Upon return yesterday evening, there were no bees left clustering on the wall, and I think they mostly were all in/on the box. I hope to go pick it up tonight.

    It was really fun doing the work, despite sweating all the way through all of my clothes, and my bee suit. It was a horrible stick mess of course, but still fun. And I had a good audience. There was mobile home parked behind the house, about 15' from where I was working. The kids watched the entire time as I worked, and occasionally asked questions. I showed them the queen when I caught her, and offered them a chunk of the good sealed honey.

    No sooner than I agreed to do that job, I got another call about removing a colony from a tree that needed to come down. And got emails about two more potential jobs, as well as contacts for a lot more Houston calls from guy that works in Austin, but gets Houston calls. It's like the flood gates opened! I just hope my wife will tolerate me getting so many bees. She is warming up to the idea, but not as quickly as I am. It's kind of like she is a candle, and I am the dynamite fuse. I just hope there isn't even an explosion
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Sheboygan, WI, USA
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: My First Cutout

    Tom,

    First off, great story!! Second, last year I did cutouts for free. Most were easy but then I had an 8 hr. job in the heat of summer in the next county. This year I started out asking for a donation to cover my gas. Now I just charge a flat rate of $50/ an hr. There might have been a couple of jobs this year that I may have lost but there seems to be no shortage of bee removals. Even today I had a call. I showed up to assess the site with all of my gear only to find out that they were yellow jackets. I asked the home owner to email me a pic of the "bees" coming and going from the hole but she wanted me to come and remove whatever they were. I don't remove yellow jackets or hornets but might remove bumble bees. I'm still getting paid. I charged her for my travel time and time on site (3.5 hrs). That could have been avoided with a picture emailed to me. Bottom line is, once you get the hang of the bee removals you really need to charge something. At least ask for a donation. Don't sell yourself short, what you're doing is a specialized service. It took me a little while to accept that for myself.

    Good Luck,
    John

    My stats.....
    2011 - 5 bee removals
    2012 - 14 bee removals with more on the way!
    To find out more about me go to
    www.broomsbylittlejohn.com

  3. #3

    Default Re: My First Cutout

    Thanks wildforager. I know I sold out on the first job, but was willing to do it for free just to get the experience. I don't think I can charge by the hour until I get better at it. But I like the idea of charging by the hour vs a flat rate. I'm just not sure when you get that technical if I need to get insurance or be properly permitted or whatever. Maybe for now I should charge a flat rate for my service. I don't know how much public competition I have in Houston. I know of a few others advertising via Craigslist. I have not advertised yet as I am still taking it slow. Who knows, word of mouth may be enough to keep me busy. Like you say, there doesn't appear to be any shortage of bee removals. Houston is great for it since the bees do so well here, and there are so many older homes with questionable siding and no insulation.

    Any experience with tree cutouts?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Sheboygan, WI, USA
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: My First Cutout

    Hey Tom,

    Yes, I agree, get some experience and then start charging an hourly rate or ask for a donation. Just be careful for africanized bees down there by you.

    As far as removing bees from a tree, I saw your other post. It looks like you have a good plan. I've done a few trap outs but have not had the opportunity to remove an entire log with bees inside. My thought on that would be if you can get that log home in good condition (careful that you don't have combs collapse inside if the log falls to the ground or is transported on its side) I would then place it in a barrel with gravel or add some bracing to keep it upright. Then do your trapout or if there is an open cavity on top just mount a hive body up there with some drawn frames. Once they start to investigate you add a frame of brood and before you know it you'll have the whole colony moved up in the box and you and take that off the top of the log. I have one like that coming up soon. The tree is too big for me to take the log home so I will top the tree and place a bottomless hive on top for a period of time.

    Good Luck!
    To find out more about me go to
    www.broomsbylittlejohn.com

  5. #5

    Default Re: My First Cutout

    I'm just afraid of cutting too low on the top cut, and cutting through the top of the comb. Not only would it tear the heck out of the hive, I've got no idea what it would do to a chainsaw...

    I called the guy on the phone, and he described the tree as being a large tree (he said 10' in diameter, I'm thinking he meant circumference!). He knows the tree is hollow, which is why it is coming down. He said the access is about 9' off the ground, but no idea how high in the tree the cavity runs. The cutout that I did had the entrance on the ground, but the hive ran up to the top of the 7' wall! I guess the bees don't mind a little travel within the hive if the cavity is suitable.

    I'm well aware of the risk of AHB, but not too concerned. I always approach an unknown situation with caution, and protective gear. Well, I take that back, when I went to investigate, I did not have any protection, but they lady had confirmed that the bees seemed gentle. After all, she had no idea they were there, and only found out after a neighbor kid was playing back there and got stung. When I approached the entrance, I held my hand out a few feet from the entrance, and the bees paid me no mind. AHB tend to meet a visitor several yards from the hive at a minimum. But on the note of AHB, I do intend to set up a mating nuc, so I always have a good Italian queen handy if I need to requeen a captured AHB hive.
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Sheboygan, WI, USA
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: My First Cutout

    Cool, sounds like you've got a good plan. If the tree guy doesn't mind maybe you could just have the tree topped and set a bottomless hive on top if the log is too big to move. 10 ft in circumference is still a large tree.
    To find out more about me go to
    www.broomsbylittlejohn.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Kingsville, OH
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: My First Cutout

    Anyone who does cut outs or trap out for free is doing themselves and other Beeks a disservice. But unless you have a commercial liability coverage don't charge. Do however suggest a donation,,up front to cover cost. An exterminator will charge and charge high and also he/she will need repeated returns to kill off the hive.
    Yes we are doing a service and protecting the bees, but it is work and to me there are no free lunches anymore.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Moyock, NC, USA
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: My First Cutout

    Don't work for free, unless its for family .
    I would contact an exterminator and price similarly. you won't be spraying their house with toxins either. Free bees.!

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