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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Greenbrae, CA, USA
    Posts
    363

    Default Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    I got a call about a swarm nearby - turns out it wasn't a swarm, but instead was an existing hive that a tree crew accidentally cut out of a tree. The piece of the tree with the hive in it is about a 4' long section that is hollowed out in about a 3 or 4 inch diameter along the log. There's a knot hole in the middle that they were using for an entrance. How do I get these into a new hive?

    I had a nuc with me and put it on the log with it's entrance right next to the knot hole. It has old brood comb in it and immediately attracted attention and a lot of bees marched in. I suspect however that it will be hard to lure the queen out of the inside of the log, especially if there's brood. How do I get her out?

    I'm thinking of going back after dark. Presumably the bees will be either in the log or the nuc. I could then seal both and bring them home. Then tomorrow I could use a chainsaw or saws all to cut open the log longitudinally and remove the comb that's inside. I worry about killing the queen with the saw though. Any alternative? Could I smoke it like crazy at the open end to push them out? Or use a bunch of bee-go or the like to drive them out?

    thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Sedgwick Co. KS
    Posts
    200

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    I've never tried it, but what about something like "Honey Bandit" or "Fischer's Bee-Quick"? .....might get her out along with the stragglers.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    St. Petersburg, fl, USA
    Posts
    187

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    I have often wondered about using a chemical repellant when trying to get bees out of a difficult removal. If any one has had success I would like to hear. What we have done on things like hollow logs generally has been cutting. We start working our way down cutting off an inch or less until we get to comb. Generally there is honey at the top and brood further down. So we remove comb very carefully a piece at a time. We Use a bee vac and vacuum up the bees as we work down..Usually we find the queen towards the bottom with brood.
    One problem with trees that have been cut is that the impact with the ground dislodges the comb and frequently kills the queen. Be ready to put a frame of eggs or young brood in the hive you put these girls in so that if you don't get the queen they will make a new one.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Ash Grove MO. USA.
    Posts
    535

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    Repellent or smoke will not work if there's brood in the log. Cutout is your best option.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,416

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    Wedge and a splitting maul.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    318

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    Take the lid off with two parallel cuts like a bun from a Subway restaurant. Rubber band the brood comb in a frame. Set the brood frame in a nuc or hive box. When you get the queen, put her in a clip and put it in the nuc. Frame up most of the brood. Save the honey for crush and strain extraction. Set the box with the queen and brood nearby to attract stragglers. Come back at dark and haul away your box of bees. Leave the queen in the clip for several days. The release her but put drone screen over the entrance for few more days. Super the box as needed. If you don't see the queen, fire up hype bee vac. I hope it goes well for you.
    "Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example." Mark Twain

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Davie, Florida, USA
    Posts
    826

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    They won't march out if it's an established hive...unless they are ready to abandon ship already due to being cut down. Then you really don't have much of a chance. You can spend hours, find the queen, cage her, put them in a box, then watch them fly off into the sunset. I will caution...don't offer your bee services for free. There is NO guarantee, that even after days of work, that you will end up with "free bees". No such thing, unless it is a swarm in your own bee yard. I agree with the others, cut out is probably the only option...IF the bees are still there! Once a hive is downed, they tend to abscond pretty quickly.

    Good luck tomorrow, though don't be disappointed if they are already be gone for the most part. Let us know!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Lebanon Pa
    Posts
    77

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    I have done this before we took a chain saw cut it long wise on opposite sides and it worked good

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,156

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    Hogan? trap out...
    If you can coax the queen into the trap box with brood maybe you can catch her and move all the frames to another box. After you have the queen you might be able to slowly roto rooter the log to get the honey and bees out. This would kill the remaining brood in the log though. I would try it from the bottom with the log upside down so you go through the honey first. Maybe it would work better if you went the other way and killed the brood first. I don't know.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Greenbrae, CA, USA
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    Well it worked out easier than I'd thought. I brought the log home last night, then this afternoon opened the bottom part with a chainsaw. They'd built 4 or 5 layers of comb that I cut out and rubber-banded into a couple of deeps. I didn't see the queen and wonder if she survived the fall from the tree and all the time lying on the ground, but the bees were very calm and marched nicely into the nuc. I'll give them a week or two and if there's no sign of a queen I'll just combine them into one of my weaker hives.photo 4.JPGphoto 2.JPGphoto 5.JPG

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,156

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    Maybe she was on the comb that you transferred and that is why they went in so easily. The log was not what I was envisioning.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Rockford, Il
    Posts
    506

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    I just did this Monday.

    I took a chainsaw, cut across the top, cut across the bottom and down the side and peeled the tree away.

    I then pulled the comb out and rubber banded it into empty, no foundation or comb, frames. I definitely would have liked to have a bee vac for the process but did not so did the best I could with a brush and a bucket.

    Mine I believe swarmed just before this operation so I found several queen cells and split the tree hive into two regular hives.

    I was actually quite surprised by both how easily the tree broke away from the comb and how incredibly docile the bees were. I have hives that are significantly more aggressive then these were just when you pull the cover off.

    ~Matt

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,472

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    For future reference in dealing with bees in a log here's another option that is less work, if you are not in a hurry.

    Cut both ends of the log flush so you can stand the log up straight. Make sure you cut the top end down far enough so the hole is exposed and the bees can move through it.

    Add a piece of plywood the same size as a bottom board to the top of the log, with a 3-4 inch diameter hole cut in the center of it. Position the hole in the plywood centered over the hole in the log.

    Add your hive body, preferably with some drawn frames, and set up a top entrance. Plug up all other holes or openings on the log so the bees can only move up through the hive body to exit and return.

    In a few weeks you will probably find the queen has moved up into the box and there will be brood. Make sure she is in the hive body and add a queen excluder under the box to keep her out of the log. After 3 weeks any brood in the log will have emerged. Remove the log and keep the hive in the same location. Set the log away from the colony somewhere and you can either split it and shake the bees out in front of the hive, or just let the bees rob out the stores.
    To everything there is a season....

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,156

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    In the case of the OP it looks like the opening was the largest section of the log and the log was not straight. For this case it might be better to leave the log horizontal and put the hive box on top of the entrance. Question: Once you see eggs in the box why not close off the bottom entrance to the box instead of QE and then drill a hole in the log for the remaining bees to get out? I would think in a week or so you could remove the box from the log and move the log.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,472

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    In the case of the OP it looks like the opening was the largest section of the log and the log was not straight. For this case it might be better to leave the log horizontal and put the hive box on top of the entrance. Question: Once you see eggs in the box why not close off the bottom entrance to the box instead of QE and then drill a hole in the log for the remaining bees to get out? I would think in a week or so you could remove the box from the log and move the log.
    There might still be a fair amount of eggs or open brood in the log and you want all of the "worker bees" to have access to the log until all the brood has emerged, for both feeding of brood and clustering.

    You're right, this method would not have worked for the OP due to the small size of the limb he was dealing with, but I just thought I would throw this out there for future reference in other situations where it would be applicable.
    To everything there is a season....

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,156

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    Not being able to find a queen or catch a queen I equate getting the queen as a successful trapping of a hive. The queen will replace any brood that is lost once the colony gets populated enough.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Greenbrae, CA, USA
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Bee hive in a log - how do I get them out?

    I checked the nuc today that I'd moved the hive to. Lots of bees and activity, but no sign of queen or eggs/brood (though I didn't look very hard). Think I'll give it another week and if I can't find a queen do a newspaper combine with another hive.

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