Cut out in old barn -- need advice
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Jamesville, NC USA
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    Default Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    I have an opportunity to do a cut-out from the walls of an old barn. They are between some old tin on the outside and plywood on the inside. I do not have a bee vacuum. They should be fairly easy to access.

    I have never done a cut-out and I need any advice I can get. Can it be done without a bee vacuum? What if I can't find the queen? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    My three original colonies were all cut out of the walls of one of my barns. The building is a 19th c. timber frame structure, so we just took off the siding and exposed the open cavities in the walls. There was comb rising from the sill plate to the second floor, completely filling the 8" thick cavity space. The brood comb where the bees were was simply cut-out and banded into empty frames. And the bees scooped up and dropped down over them in the box. No queens were seen, but all three were queenright.

    No vacuum was necessary as the bees' space was entirely exposed. I loosened the siding (took off trim boards, etc.) a lot in the days beforehand, mostly to protect the old materials (from before the Civil War) from any smash and tear just to get the job done.

    Do you know how to rubberband comb into frames?

    Have several 5-gallon buckets of water standing by to keep rinsing your hands and tools off as this is one sticky job. We actually had a hose stretched out tor near the working area, which was very handy. Usually all you have is buckets. A flat worktable (old door on saw horses, covered with plastic sheeting) would be a boon, too.

    Once the bees, queen, et al, are in the boxes, let them settle a bit to collect all the flyers. And then move them away to a new location. Mine were not moved, and that created problems that took a few weeks to work through. Not difficult, just exasperating, and very confusing for a new, and completely, clueless beekeeper

    Have you done any kind of cut-out before? This will likely be easier than most of them.

    Nancy

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Caldwell TX USA
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    118

    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    I always recommend having a mentor on the first cutout or two. Things like making sure animals are kept safely away. Having the 'right' equipment. What to do when things fall apart. I agree with Nancy that this would be a fairly easy one (not climbing ladders, stuck in attic, crawling under floors...). But the comb are usually tall & narrow which means more rubber banding work. And making sure of things like putting the comb right-side-up.

    The problem is that there are so many little things that are big things when done wrong. Maybe you can find someone local, and go 'assist' them on a cutout they are doing anyway? Then come back & do yours? Or maybe have him come over & offer advice on how to best do the cutout?

    Another factor, comb will be secured to the plywood well, and also on the tin exterior. I try not to tear out exteriors as it can cause water issues later. Can you take a circular saw, set it to just the depth of the plywood & tear it vertically. Open up maybe a 6" wide strip so you can extract comb by cutting it rather than tearing it all apart by pulling the whole sheet. Again, experience helps.

    Good luck.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Cincinnati, OH
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    318

    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    You can knock their numbers down by doing a 24 hr trapout first. trap them into a box and take the box away before doing the cutout. Re-unite them afterwards. Gets rid of most of the ornrey older bees and makes it go a bit smoother.
    Mistakes are the best taechers

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    Liberty Hill, Texas
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    696

    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    I love how a "Trap Out" is stated with out any further instructions. Think for a minute what the title is and you state "Trap Out" with a box. Perhaps you ought to actually instruct what that infers. Clearly you see it in your thoughts with your experience. Now put yourself with the experience level that Rodo..... has.

    My advice is to go to YouTube and view many videos that are removals. You can learn a lot from a variety of situations. Clearly no 2 removals are the same, but getting some idea's prior to doing it will be helpful. In edition you can read several threads on here on removals of what others have done.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Jamesville, NC USA
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    85

    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    I appreciate the responses as this is my first rodeo. Great advice, enjambres (I believe that's Nancy, right?), as there are a lot of things in your response I hadn't thought about. I will make sure to have water and a worktable. I wasn't sure how long to let them bee before I moved them as well -- I was thinking leaving them might pose a problem with drifting back to their original home. I was thinking to come back after dark and collecting any bees remaining at their old home. Is that advisable?

    I will also check the area for anybody or any animals that might come in harm's way before starting, Texas. Shouldn't be much of a problem. I realize that not tearing the comb will be difficult, but approaching them from the inside is nearly impossible -- tight quarters and lots of stuff in the way. I expect the combs to be long and narrow and will be prepared with lots of rubber bands. This colony has been there for years and the neighbors report swarms and lots of bearding in the summers. I am not sure what to expect when I open them up which is one of the intimidating things. I will have my brother helping and he rubber banded comb into frames before when transferring a colony from a Warre to a Langstroth hive. We'll make sure it's right side up.

    Hadn't thought to trap them out first, Beebeard. I will look again and rethink things taking that into consideration.

    If mistakes are teachers, I am sure I am about to get an education. I hope I learn something!

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
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    Default

    Good luck with it! I was all thumbs my first few cutouts. The short term trapout is just to get the numbers down since you don't have a vacuum. It is easier to see what you are doing with the comb without as many bees running around.
    Since it seems some folks are quick to characterise other's suggestions as inadequate, I would take their advice and encourage you to look at trapout videos on YouTube to see how they are done, rather than me type out a very long and detailed description that may or may not work for your particular situation. If you have further questions about it, feel free to ask. Pictures help a lot, too! Let us know how it went.
    Mistakes are the best taechers

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Cincinnati, OH
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    Default

    Jeff Horchoff, JPthebeeman, 628dirtrooster are great YouTube channels for cutout reference.
    Look on Beesource for Cleo Hogan posts about trapout, he has a great system.
    Mistakes are the best taechers

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    I use the big, (8-9 inches unstretched) colored, rubber bands to go around the frames horizonatally, and ordinary large (3-4 inches unstretched) light brown ones to around both medium and deep frames vertically. I get the colored ones from Staples, and they are surprisingly expensive but you will need tons of them - at least three or four per deep frame, two or three on mediums. Get lots of extras, you can always return unopened, unsticky packages if you don't use them.

    I preposition the rubber bands around the frames with them resting on the wooden parts leaving the center open so you can set the comb pieces down inside the frame. Then just scootch or slide, the rubber bands up, down, and over sideways to create the cage. This beats trying to hold the comb inside the frame while you stretch the bands. Sturdy cages count, pretty cages do not.

    My bees didn't make combs spanning the cavity from inside to outside, They made them parallel to the plane of the walls, so I had really wide slabs, though not perfectly flat like in a bee box. You might see if you do get a peek at the comb ahead of time so you know how the ones you'll be working are arranged.

    Bees had occupied my walls for nearly 20 years so there was a ton of comb and honey.

    When to move the bees is an important consideration. My situation was unusual since I wasn't planning on taking the bees away after cutting them out. They still live only about 1000 from their former home in the barn.

    You do realize that these may be Africanized bees that will really resent your attentions, right? You might want to study that possibility first, before expending a lot of trouble on a colony that could be too hot to manage afterward.

    Nancy

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Bryson City, NC
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    11

    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    Do we have Africanized bees in NC now? I didn't think they'd got established here yet.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    Oops, I'm sorry, I had the incorrect idea the OP was in TX. No worries about AHB in NC.

    Nancy

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Jamesville, NC USA
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    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

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    Not sure if I uploaded the pictures correctly, but my brother and I went and got this colony out of the wall cavity today. There were lots of bees, very little brood, and a healthy-looking queen. I want to thank you guys again for the advice. It really boosted my confidence when I opened up the wall and saw all those bees! Hopefully everything went well, and they will like their new home.

    It was a learning experience, and I think we did a decent job of it. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but I think I would build a bee vacuum before starting the next one.

    I do have a couple of questions. We found lots of bees, a beautiful queen (sorry, no pic), and a fair amount of nectar, very little honey, no queen cells, and very little brood. My guess is that they must have been backfilling to suppress the queen's laying in preparation to swarm. But why no swarm cells, or did we catch them right before they got to that point?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    If they were getting to ready swarm there would be lots of already capped brood, just not a lot of eggs and young brood. They need a maximum supply of capped brood in the pipeline that will emerge out soon after the swarm and quickly replace the bees that would be flying away with the swarm.

    Since your brother has some experience he will know how to keep checking the boxes for signs of swarming, and for any other reason that might produce an apparently short supply of visible brood at this season, including the brood diseases. When I had my little outbreak of European Foul Brood disease last spring, that was the first thing that drew my attention - there should have more brood than there was. So keep an eye out for that, though it is not comon and probably nothing you will have to deal with.

    Otherwise it sounds as though things well right according to plan, and now, ta-da, you're a beekeeper! Congratulations.

    Also at some point in the next month, or so, you will see the bees trying to pull out some of the rubber bands through the door. They will tug and tug, and snap, it will pull back in. Then they'll recruit more bees and try the tug-o-war again. It's hilarious to watch. I usually get my fill of laughing at it and then reach in and snip the piece off before mayhem breaks out. Keep an eye out for this.

    Nancy

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Cincinnati, OH
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    Default

    Looks Good! I know it may have been hard to tell, but were there open polished cells ready to be laid in, or was it all backfield with nectar? The hive looks healthy enough from the pictures.
    Mistakes are the best taechers

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Bryson City, NC
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    11

    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    Out here in the mountains our spring has been touch and go. Warms up, something blooms, then chills down again and rains or snows until the blooms are done. If you're having the same pattern out on the coast then they could be short on brood because foragers haven't been able to get a good steady pollen supply delaying the build up.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Jamesville, NC USA
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    85

    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    Describes our weather pattern in the past few months exactly.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Jamesville, NC USA
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    85

    Default Re: Cut out in old barn -- need advice

    I'm not sure if I could recognize whether cells were polished or not. Even if I knew what to look for, these old eyes probably couldn't see it.

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