Time Sensitive
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Thread: Time Sensitive

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Manlius, NY, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Time Sensitive

    Hello all,

    We are renovating our home extensively. A colony was well established in the walls when we purchased the home in 2007 (it had been empty for years). That colony was "destroyed" but as it will Nature found its way back to the house. We thought all gaps were closed but lost a battle to the flying squirrels who have a penchant for chewing, and wood. Anyway, fast forward to 2015 and we find ourselves wondering "what to do about the bees"? We have just lived with their buzzy activity coming and going outside this window and into the bedroom wall for a few years now but we are intent on weatherproofing and making final improvements to this place. We're also going to be doing some very small homesteading activities. We're all keen to try out beekeeping, if we can.

    So, the BIG question is this: Will taking the hive out of the wall and putting it into a box kill the colony?

    Most of the new-to-this literature seems to deal with people who need to get bees and the different places and ways to buy them. Haven't found a situation like this anywhere. Perhaps there isn't a simple yes or no answer but we appreciate anything you can tell us. Thanks!!

    Emily

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Greene, (Upstate) NY. The Great USA
    Posts
    216

    Default Re: Time Sensitive

    "So, the BIG question is this: Will taking the hive out of the wall and putting it into a box kill the colony?"

    Nope...This is how I got started. Search the threads using "cut out" as your key word. Lots of discussions about getting bees out of structures. With any luck Radar Sidetrack will post some links! (He's good like that)

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    10,925

    Default Re: Time Sensitive

    Beesource has an entire subforum called Swarms, Trapouts and Cutouts. My suggestion is to click that link, read some of the 'cutout' threads, and then post more specific questions.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Time Sensitive

    Oh Emily, your question warms my heart! All my bees are from "cut-outs" from the walls of my barn here in eastern upstate NY, in 2013.

    My bees have done just fine - I have had 100% survival through two winters. I would get some experienced help doing the cut-out and hiving, if you possibly can swing it. It's a very intense process and not really a beginner's skill - though you can and should help in the "birth" of your new colony. And try wait as long as possible this Spring, to allow the weather to settle.

    This is because it is possible that you may kill or injury the one, and only, queen during the melee of getting them turfed out. But if you do this in early-mid June (good timing for around here in the Albany, NY area) there will already be eggs and larvae of the right stage for the bees to cook themselves up a new queen and all will not be lost. It's one of the astounding marvels of bees, that they can make a replacement if she is accidentally killed. Of the three colonies removed from my walls at least one. possibly two, lost their queens. But the colonies made new ones, which I still have in my hives today. If you do the cut-out too early in the season, before there is good, settled warm, flying weather and lots of drones (male bees needed for mating), then your chances of getting the viable new queen (if one is needed) well-mated are much lower. My cut-out was done on June 23, but a week to 10 days earlier would probably have been fine, too.

    There is an aspect of doing a cut-out in your situation which may be overlooked, even by experienced bee-removal experts: bees are amazingly focused on their specific location and short moves can really disorient them. When most people do cut-outs they are removing bees from someone else's building and moving them miles away. This works better for the bees as they can sense they've been transported and won't waste effort trying to go back. (Bees, after all, are regularly hauled cross-country on tractor-trailers.) But short moves ( such as from the house wall out to their nearby, new apiary) can baffle them and many will keep going back to the old site if they aren't moved a couple of miles away.

    What we did was hang the hives from ropes, and ten put them on platforms, in front of the old entrances after the bees were in their new boxes. Some of the colonies weren't impressed by their new digs and returned to their former spots even though the walls were by then wide open. (Queen excluders in the hive stack under the bottom box would have helped, but I didn't know nuthin' about bees at the time.) One colony in particular stayed stubbornly out of the boxes, even after several rounds of catching and rehiving them over the course of a couple of weeks. Eventually they tired of the game and settled down. But it was stressful all around.

    Read what I wrote below in green, but I have added a different version below, which may be a better solution.

    What I think I'd do differently, if I had to do this again, probably be to hive the bees and then move them immediately to a temporary location a couple of miles away for about three weeks, then bring them back to their permanent spot my apiary at my house. There is an old beekeepers' adage is that you can move bees a couple of feet or, a couple of miles, but not in between. I have since learned ways to move established hives shorter distances, but truthfully, a cut-out which sounds so matter-of-fact, is actually a hugely traumatic experience for a colony, so that's why I would give them a short period in a safe place to get over it and get busy again. Then move them back home. You would need to be able to visit the hive daily, or at least every other day in the beginning of their short stay elswhere. (You'll probably want to, anyway - bees are very addictive.) This isn't a deal-killer if it isn't at all possible, but I think it would be the easiest way to do it.


    Here's a picture of my barn before the cutout (three colonies of bees, two on the side with the diagonal and one one the adjacent side to the right):01Barnbefore.jpg

    And here are the hives after we were finished with the cut-out and they'd been temporarily positioned on platforms:38Positionsdayslater.jpg Not having them on the ground made the early weeks very difficult for a new beekeeper.

    Your over-wintered bees are extremely sought-after among beekeepers because they are so-called survivor bees. They may or may not be stronger and more resistant to pests (don't count on that, though it is possible). They have huge cachet. They are also loving described as "mutts", by their admirers.

    I do hope you will hive your bees. They will likely make great, sturdy, colonies, and your life will be easier with them in their own house!

    If you have any questions, feel free to send me a private message.

    My "ladies" will be so tickled when I tell them tomorrow about your possible new bees.

    ETA: As I was thinking back on what I wrote, a vitally important point occurred to me: if you do move the bees away with the plan to bring them back in about three weeks: You should have an experienced beekeeper check the hive in the first week to confirm that the queen is alive and well and laying - and not being replaced due to loss in the cut-out. If the bees are replacing her, you will need to leave the hive in the new place for AT LEAST a month. This is because a replacement queen needs to pupate, emerge, harden and then leave the hive to go out and get successfully mated and it can take about this long to do that. The worst possible scenario would be to move the hive back to your place while she was absent from the hive on her mating flights. If you discover that she is being replaced, I would leave the hive at the temporary spot until you know, for absolute certain, she has safely returned and started laying. Only then it would be OK to move the hive again.

    My first summer with my bees was completely focused on getting my bees out of the walls, down to the ground, then out and around the barns and down some 500 feet to their final position. It was vastly more complicated than I had any idea at the outset, and it colored my entire new-beekeeper season with an overlay of near-disaster and desperation. I think the advice in my original post comes from that experience. But in thinking over the possible consquences of moving them away - and back again - I now think I would recommend pretty much what I actually did, even with the ensuing drama. Cut them out and either get them squared away near where they were (with another move planned to the apiary sometime later in the summer, depending on queen status) or move them immediately to their new, permanent, spot and let them make a new queen there (if needed) without any risks to due to inopportune moving. In either instance, read about and be prepared to cope with their confusion about a short-distance move, on top of the chaos that results from a cut-out. There are things you can do to help them learn to recognize their new location.

    So, disregard my first suggestion above about taking them elsewhere, unless there are other reasons for doing that. Sorry for the confusion.

    Enjambres
    Last edited by enjambres; 03-28-2015 at 11:00 PM.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    7,861

    Default Re: Time Sensitive

    What to do with the bees?

    You can hive them or give them away on a CL ads.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Manlius, NY, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Time Sensitive

    Wow, thanks Enjambres! What an informative post. We really appreciate it. It's a lot to take in. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I'm not sure we'll have the luxury to do it how you did but will continute to evaluate the possibilities. If we decide it's too much for us, I'm glad to know they are extremely sought after.

    Emily

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Manlius, NY, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Time Sensitive

    Will do! Thank you Rader.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    6,176

    Default Re: Time Sensitive

    Cutting out a colony and moving them is generally fine. As you mentioned, being sure that you're sealed up so that bees don't take up residence in the house again is important.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

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