I'm in it now i guess, Emergency?
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  1. #1
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    Default I'm in it now i guess, Emergency?

    Hello all,

    Normally in a forum i like to research a little prior to posting, but i'm not sure how much time i have.

    Backstory:
    I noticed quite awhile back that i had a natural bee nest in a branch of one of the trees in the yard of the house i just got. Two neighbors pointed it out to me afterwards, and i kept meaning to research a little about transfer to a hive. Well, today, it rained pretty hard and knocked down the branch onto the driveway the honeycombs that were outside of the branch had a swarm of bees around them, but other pieces of the branch had clumps of bees trying to escape from the inch or so of water where they had fell. I got a trashcan and scooped the honeycomb into a trashcan to protect them from the rain and moved it off the driveway. I then went back and got all the bit of wood that had bees on them and got most of the bees into the trashcan and then went back and tried to save the rest of the bees that were struggling in the water. Most of the bees weren't flying and i only got one sting from a bee that had crawled up my leg and must have gotten squeezed a little when i squatted down. I was going to buy a hive online, but luckily i found a hive kit at the tractor supply store and bought that as well as a veil figuring that the rain must have restricted the flight capacity of the bees and i might be more likely to get stung on my second attempt "domesticate" them by putting them in a hive.
    Anyway, anyone have any advice on a few things that need to bee (pun intended) done? I have no clue yet on what i need to do except what i have read in the last few hours. Here are the first few questions i have from what i know so far:

    Do i need to act quickly to get the bees in a safe environment so that the hive survives or will they just stay with the honeycombs inside the trashcan so i don't need to rush?
    I know from a long time ago that there is a queen, is she easily spotted (figure she is in that main honeycomb)?
    I've not yet opened the box and looked at how the beehive i bought goes together yet, but i assume there are vertical trays from what i can see from the graphics on the box, can i take out a few of those and just try and fit the honeycomb (its much bigger, obviously not square and appears thicker but its hard to tell) in there so as not to disturb the bees as much? The majority of the bees are all clinging to that main honeycomb.
    Am i just being naive that i can even save this hive?

    Any help is welcome, i have been thinking about transferring this nest to a hive for awhile, but as the title suggests, i think i have some divine intervention making me procrastinate less...

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: I'm in it now i guess, Emergency?

    Wow, you have your hands full, for a first time keeper. To be honest, based on what you have said, and what my imagination fills in, I'd says the chances of saving these bees are pretty bleak.

    First question - where are you? Do you have a real winter, soon? If you are in a warm climate, that greatly improves things.

    Second, can you find an experienced beekeeper to help you get started? Perhaps if you let us know where you are, someone from here might be able to help.

    Silly question, but you are sure they are honeybees, not anything else, right? It sounds like it, but just making sure.

    Keep them dry, first and foremost. I would get them into the new hive as soon as possible (tomorrow). If there is honeycomb, I woud just stand it up in the hive box, leaving some of the frames (what you called "trays") out if necessary, for now. Put the hive in full sun, on blocks if you can, facing South.

    Is there honey in the comb? If not, you will need to feed them. Let us know, and we can talk you through that.

    Regarding the queen - well, you either have her, or you don't. Not much you can do about it right now, and she will be hard to find. It is likely not worth the disruption to make the search right now.

    Those are my quick thoughts, I am sure you will get more input, and likely even better input, soon.

    Good luck.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: I'm in it now i guess, Emergency?

    Another thought, check Craigslist for people advertising "Bee removal." Give one or two of them a call, they may be able to offer local advice, or you may get lucky enough for one to volunteer to help you get situated. Or they might get annoyed ... but I would try that. If they are experienced, they woud know very well how to deal with the exact situation you have.

    Edit: Or use the "Bee Removal" link in the header of this page to find local experts.
    Last edited by bushpilot; 11-07-2019 at 11:23 PM.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: I'm in it now i guess, Emergency?

    Thanks for responding.

    I'm located in Texas, Houston area. The rain was from a cold front moving in, but it won't be freezing. Weatherman says Monday it may freeze, but whatever i am going to do will be done by then.

    The lady at the tractor supply said someone comes in twice a year from A&M. I'll look up contact info tomorrow after i drop the kids off. If i can figure it out on my own though, that'd be better as i don't have much money to throw at this.

    I am pretty sure they are honey bees, what else would have combs? I didn't take any pictures of the nest prior to the fall and it was raining when i noticed it had fell, so no pictures as yet. I'll try and take some pictures tomorrow of the pieces.

    Yes, i figured keeping them dry was vital. Thats why i got the trash can, tilted it on its side and scooped the comb into it. I had planned on starting it tomorrow. I looked up some removal and placing honeycombs in frame videos and i may need to get some more supplies to tie them so they stay vertical. One video used elastic bands and the other zip ties, but the combs looked/felt heavier than my daughter's hairbands would hold. I'm pretty handy, i'll figure something out.

    Not much full sun on my lot (1/2 acre), but perhaps i will set the hive up on a pallet in full sun for now and move the pallet later when they dry out assuming they won't need sun all the time (the original hive was in the shade). Facing south? Any relevance to that? I was planning on a location in a corner that is under another tree, and if it important, will ensure the opening is turned south.

    Not sure about honey yet. I wanted to disturb the comb which had all the bees on it as little as possible. The other bits of comb that were broken didn't look like they had honey on them, but then they were pretty wet.

    A few other updates on what i recovered.

    The "main" comb is a bit longer than the flat shovel i scooped them up and almost as wide (estimate about a little over a foot by 3/4 a foot). There appeared to be two sections stacked on each other.

    I also took the branch that they had bored a hole through the center in. The largest bored out area has some smaller combs in it and have that resting on the opening to the can. So, in effect, i think i have all the pieces to the whole hive. The large area they bored likely was too large for the branch integrity which is likely why it fell.
    Last edited by Breeton; 11-07-2019 at 11:54 PM. Reason: added info

  6. #5
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    Default Emergency Averted I think

    Well, I misjudged, there was more honeycomb then I thought. It was about three frames worth that were full of honey and closed cell (larva I guess). I had devised a way to hang them, but since there was more than I thought, I just stuck them in between the racks/frames. I took out four or five of the 9 frames that the hive I bought came with and got all the clumps of bees into the hive. I suppose I could have taken some of the honey, but I left it there to ensure they survive. The important part is they are in a safe space now. It didn't really get sunny, so I wound up just putting them where I intended the hive for the long term. Will revisit again at a later date to clean the honeycombs out of there once the are out of the woods (so to speak). I took some pictures and will post later if I get the chance. Thanks for the help, now I've got a lot to learn about maintaining them.
    Last edited by Breeton; 11-08-2019 at 07:26 PM.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Emergency Averted I think

    It sounds to me that you have done exactly what you could / should have to this point. I think now you need to think about feeding. I would use 2:1 sugar syrup.

    More later, hopefully.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Emergency Averted I think

    Quote Originally Posted by bushpilot View Post
    It sounds to me that you have done exactly what you could / should have to this point. I think now you need to think about feeding. I would use 2:1 sugar syrup.

    More later, hopefully.
    Do you think i need to feed? The homeycombs had quite a bit of honey and that should feed them, right? I didn't take many pictures as i was dodging bees, but here are a few:

    Cond_002_DLB_1424.jpg

    Cond_006_DLB_1428.jpg

    Cond_007_DLB_1429.jpg

  9. #8
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Here is a picture of a honeycomb that i left out for now as it was in the tree:

    Cond_009_DLB_1431.jpg

  10. #9
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    The main worry is did the queen survive all the events. If she did and she got into the box with the other bees you might be fine. If not, the question is did young eggs or larvae survive so the remaining worker bees can create a new queen. If so, you still might be fine.
    If neither of those things is true the hive will dwindle and eventually die. Not your fault.
    I'd leave them alone as much as possible at this point and let them try to recover. Maybe feed them some sugar. Check again in a few weeks to see if there are new eggs or brood present. If so, hurrah!
    If not, consider buying a queen.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Can't see the pictures yet, pending approval. But to answer your question about feeding, if they are going to get established in the hive, they will need nectar or feed. If there is nectar in Houston, it may be fine, but otherwise they will struggle to get established. They will not build any comb on the frames unless there is a reason and resources to do so.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Quote Originally Posted by AR1 View Post
    The main worry is did the queen survive all the events. If she did and she got into the box with the other bees you might be fine. If not, the question is did young eggs or larvae survive so the remaining worker bees can create a new queen. If so, you still might be fine.
    If neither of those things is true the hive will dwindle and eventually die. Not your fault.
    I'd leave them alone as much as possible at this point and let them try to recover. Maybe feed them some sugar. Check again in a few weeks to see if there are new eggs or brood present. If so, hurrah!
    If not, consider buying a queen.
    Agreed.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Quote Originally Posted by AR1 View Post
    The main worry is did the queen survive all the events. If she did and she got into the box with the other bees you might be fine. If not, the question is did young eggs or larvae survive so the remaining worker bees can create a new queen. If so, you still might be fine.
    If neither of those things is true the hive will dwindle and eventually die. Not your fault.
    I'd leave them alone as much as possible at this point and let them try to recover. Maybe feed them some sugar. Check again in a few weeks to see if there are new eggs or brood present. If so, hurrah!
    If not, consider buying a queen.
    The combs had quite a few closed cells and from my research, these are the larvae. I tried to not disturb those at all and just laid them against the pre-fab frames vertically in the box with the honey and closed cells on them. If the queen did survive, i'd be willing to bet there will be another queen come from those eggs/larvae. The bees were in a few clumps with the main bulk being around the large combs. I figure the queen was in that bunch, but i don't know for sure of course. I'll leave it for now and see how it does. When should i check it? Am trying to find a bee community to sit in some meetings and see if someone is willing to give me some advice. Pretty cool stuff really, but the more i read, the more i realize don't know. Quite overwhelming. Still, i'll likely get more blackberries and blueberries this year!

    I located someone on craigslist who sells queens and used commercial hives (wish i would have seen that before i bought the hive i bought) that i might just make another hive next to it. Either i buy what he calls "standard langstroth" boxes from him or build something that fits the same frames i just got (18" X 8.5" frames). Since it appeared to have a lot of bees, I am looking at building/adding another box to put below the one i got and then build another empty hive and putting it next to this one because it seemed like more bees than the one box could handle . Still, i see all these different names, brood box, nucs, supers, etc. and i am wondering what exactly to build. This pattern looks good to me, and am thinking of having some drawers in the setup:
    https://www.instructables.com/id/Ext...ation-for-nat/
    Haven't decided yet if this is the way i want to go. Next week is going to have colder weather (30s) so i'm glad i got them in the box for now.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Breeton:

    First, let me welcome you to the forum. There are a lot of really helpful folks (like bushpilot and AR1) on here who have been very helpful to me.

    Secondly, I am impressed at all that you have been able to uptake regarding beekeeping in such a short amount of time- kudos to you.

    Thirdly, I'll be pulling for this newly-hived colony- given that they have survived everything that mother nature has thrown at them thus far, it sounds like they have quite a bit of pluck.

    Finally, given that your current brood box is a standard Langstroth specification, you may want to stay with this- at least until you have had the opportunity to research and ask questions of other beekeepers in your area. There are myriad options out there, but the Langstroth is by far-and-away the most utilized (and thus readily available) standard being employed in the US today. That is not to say that other options might not better serve your specific goals and objectives but it is in my opinion a good place to start.

    There is an 'Equipment and Hardware' sub-forum on here that is a wealth of information concerning the various options that you might want to peruse:

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/for...pment-Hardware

    Best of success to you in your beekeeping journey- they are certainly beguiling insects.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  15. #14
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Thanks to all that have replied.

    This story just seems to get more complicated and there isn't any examples of this anywhere on the net. The saga continues....

    So, i went out there and watched the corner of the yard they are in a few times today. Lots of activity buzzing around the trash can where the honeycombs were presumably to salvage as much bit of honey were around it i guess. The largest surviving branch from the tree that had the honey was over there as well, but, although some, there was not as much activity there. I decided to take one of honeycombs (turns out there was more than just the one) in the branch and put it in the hive, I had read somewhere that the bees will go back and take all the honey they had stored when they are transferred from trees. It appeared to me the bees were trying to get the honey from those combs, so i decided to lean the branch on the ledge of the hive to allow the bees to transfer the honey easier.

    I went out a couple of hours later and there is a clumping of bees on the branch. Strangely, it is on the OTHER end of the branch. I had a few scraps of cedar left over from replacing some siding, so i measured the box i bought and made up another thinking, made one frame out of bird netting and put that in there with the remaining frames from the box i bought. Right before dark (alright and a little after), i transferred the bees on the branch to the new box which i decided to put in an atruim area i have. I figured this would be well protected and away from the branch. I took out the remaining combs and put them in the box i made and covered the top with plywood since i hadn't had time to make a "roof" since i don't know for sure if they will make it and i would just use them for honey harvesting boxes for the hive i bought if the hive should consolidate. I moved the branch to the other side of the yard and then I opened the box i bought to take a quick look, but i didn't see many bees in there. I checked the second box this morning and the bees are all in there still. The original box has a lot of bee activity going in and out and all around, but i had to be somewhere so i didn't open it up and look again. I double chacked the branch ad there are no bees on there. I've attached a couple of pictures of the branch with the bees "swarming":

    Cond_001_IMG_4901.jpg
    Cond_003_IMG_4903.jpg

    When i get back to the house, i'll open up the first box and see if there is any bees in there. If there are, i am going to assume that i have two queens that must have been in two parts of the branch.

    I tried to contact A&M and one beekeeper on facebook but no reply from the first and once there didn't seem to be any money in it for them, the second stopped messaging me. I joined another group, but there isn't any mentors in my area. The three in texas appear to have businesses so i expect that latter type of reply, but I will try that i guess. I had a friend reply on my facebook telling me it was going to get cold, so maybe she knows something.

    Anyone have any ideas what is going on here or what i should try next? I had wanted to leave the hive alone, but i didn't want the bees out in the open like that. It is supposed to get cold Wednesday i think. At least the bees are protected for now, but i can't keep building hives...lol.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Quote Originally Posted by bushpilot View Post
    Can't see the pictures yet, pending approval. But to answer your question about feeding, if they are going to get established in the hive, they will need nectar or feed. If there is nectar in Houston, it may be fine, but otherwise they will struggle to get established. They will not build any comb on the frames unless there is a reason and resources to do so.
    We still have some flowers here. I noticed a little bee activity around one of the hummingbird plants near the back door (i think there are three on the property). Just to bee sure though, i assume the syrup you are talking about is 2 parts water and one part sugar? I have some hummingbird feeder solution around somewhere i think, would they like that?

  17. #16
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Breeton:

    First, let me welcome you to the forum. There are a lot of really helpful folks (like bushpilot and AR1) on here who have been very helpful to me.

    Secondly, I am impressed at all that you have been able to uptake regarding beekeeping in such a short amount of time- kudos to you.

    Thirdly, I'll be pulling for this newly-hived colony- given that they have survived everything that mother nature has thrown at them thus far, it sounds like they have quite a bit of pluck.

    Finally, given that your current brood box is a standard Langstroth specification, you may want to stay with this- at least until you have had the opportunity to research and ask questions of other beekeepers in your area. There are myriad options out there, but the Langstroth is by far-and-away the most utilized (and thus readily available) standard being employed in the US today. That is not to say that other options might not better serve your specific goals and objectives but it is in my opinion a good place to start.

    There is an 'Equipment and Hardware' sub-forum on here that is a wealth of information concerning the various options that you might want to peruse:

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/for...pment-Hardware

    Best of success to you in your beekeeping journey- they are certainly beguiling insects.
    I'm assuming the dimensions for the hive i bought are Langstroth, but they seem to vary a little, i am assuming the variance is attributed to the wood. For $50 per box for the commercial boxes, that seems not bad since it took me a few hours to make the second box yesterday. I'll keep this hive the same dimensions as what i already have to keep it standard for now. Thanks again for the help.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Alright, well the crisis is averted it appears. The bees were busy when i got back and opened both boxes, but none were in the frames or building anything within the boxes at all.
    It appeared they were robbing the honey combs i had put in the box and the flurry of activity was them moving back into another cavity in that branch and taking the honey with them. At least i think that is where they moved too. After noticing a few bees flying around the broken part of the branch where the nest fell, I got up on a ladder and and, although i didn't see many bees going in and out, there were about six or seven hanging out near an approximately 2 inch hole in the branch. Here is a picture of that:
    Cond_007_IMG_4907.jpg

    The top where it broke (and there were honeycombs) looked like it had a hole in it leading to the honey chamber. This hole must be where the brood or possibly the pollen is. I'll get a boom and inspect it better before proceeding. So, for now, i think they are safe from the weather and i can figure out how to transfer them to the boxes i just bought at a more leisurely pace, particularly at a time when it won't be freezing (or raining) in a couple of days. My biggest concern was saving the bees. Taking care of them seems very interesting even though i have only had a passing taste for honey. I was more interested in their pollination duties with respect to my berry plants and garden. So, in that vein, i will definitely relocate them to a safer area where i can control them a little better. This will be a great learning experience for me and, after i get the hang of it, the kids.

    My plan of attack is to take out that limb and i'll transfer them and cut it out at the same time. At that time, i'll bee set up to take the hive in. Still researching it, but i am thinking of two directions to take.

    1) Get them out of there and into the hive and then cut the entire branch out. I would cut the whole branch out and try and transfer them on the ground.

    2) Remove the bees from the branch and place them in the hive. Then cut the branch out and burn it so that any pheromones are not present to attract them back. There is a problem with this and the previous option. While investigating the tree, i noticed quite a few holes in it that might house bees. They didn't look like they had any bees in them, but i'd hate to get them out only to have them move back up there again into one of the other cavities. I read where they go back to the spot they originally had the nest, so i'm going to think optimistically and think if the branch is gone, they won't go back. Still, i don't want to cut the whole tree down. Perhaps i will fill some of the cavities i saw in first. The question is, would they prefer moving back into a tree or would they bee satisfied with the hive?

    3) Get them out of there and into a transfer box, i think its called a nuk, and move them away for a week into the hive i bought or two before i bring them back. Starting to further research that now, but bringing them back and forth seems like a lot of work. From what i've read, i don't think i can just close off the box for 20 or 30 minutes for the transfer or they'll suffocate being all couped up like that. i really need to think this option through more i guess.

    Both the last two options would require a vacuum i think, or perhaps i can smoke them out and into a netted type of enclosure.

    if i time it right, i might be able to budget someone with considerable more experience to help me, but to be honest i haven't had anyone come forward who isn't just in it for the money. So, i may not get someone else especially if i don't feel comfortable with them. After all, i have more time to deal with it now. No problem though, as i am a big DIY guy and this seems like a very interesting problem to solve. Thanks again for your help

  19. #18
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Breeton:

    Sounds like you have quite a project on your hands.

    While it is hard for me to wrap my mind around the situation without the benefit of the photos, I think you mentioned at the outset that this was a single open-air colony which had already established a few frames of comb?

    Assuming it is a single colony, it most certainly contains a single queen- and she and any open brood comb you have are the glue that hold the colony together.

    As such, you would be best served to consolidate any/all bees and comb that originated from the original open-air colony in a single hive set-up.

    Again, without the benefit of the photos it is hard to tell, but I would generally suggest that you put together a single volume (even if it requires multiple boxes that are stacked on top of each other) to house all the bees in a single contiguous hive assembly. Any bees which are in volumes with no queen and no brood will determine quickly that they are hopelessly queenless and then bad things happen.

    So before the cold weather sets-in, I would put all your comb and bees together and then leave them be until moderate temperatures return later in the week when you can determine if they are queenright, have sufficient stores, etc.

    Best of luck to you with this colony.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  20. #19
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Sorry about the delay approving the photos. I just came across this thread. Breeton, I suggest you PM JimD who also lives in Spring and ask him to come by to offer advice. So far it looks like you are doing what you can, but "eyes on" would help.
    Last edited by JWPalmer; 11-11-2019 at 06:45 PM.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: a honeycomb i left for now

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Breeton:

    Sounds like you have quite a project on your hands.

    While it is hard for me to wrap my mind around the situation without the benefit of the photos, I think you mentioned at the outset that this was a single open-air colony which had already established a few frames of comb?

    Assuming it is a single colony, it most certainly contains a single queen- and she and any open brood comb you have are the glue that hold the colony together.

    As such, you would be best served to consolidate any/all bees and comb that originated from the original open-air colony in a single hive set-up.

    Again, without the benefit of the photos it is hard to tell, but I would generally suggest that you put together a single volume (even if it requires multiple boxes that are stacked on top of each other) to house all the bees in a single contiguous hive assembly. Any bees which are in volumes with no queen and no brood will determine quickly that they are hopelessly queenless and then bad things happen.

    So before the cold weather sets-in, I would put all your comb and bees together and then leave them be until moderate temperatures return later in the week when you can determine if they are queenright, have sufficient stores, etc.

    Best of luck to you with this colony.
    I basically did what you said before i saw your input. When the bees gathered outside the original box, i made the box and only put what was left in the tree which was two thin, long honey combs. The next day, when i noticed they were just robbing the honey and not staying in that box (or the other), i brought both boxes to the same area. That night i checked and no bees were in either box yet they were back the next morning moving the honey. Thats when i saw bees near the branch where it fell.

    Basically, i think now that i didn't have any brood comb but only had the honey and pollen. Due to my lack of knowledge, i thought the pollen was the brood. That means the queen and eggs are still in the branch. At least i hope so. The bees are no longer in the boxes i bought, and i think they are back up in the tree. I THINK that the brood is still in the tree and the bees moved back in there. I won't know until i take that branch out, or find another cavity that they've moved into (the tree has multiple). From the ladder and what i know of the branch, it broke at the bottom of the honey/pollen chamber. Looking down on the remaining branch, i can see a small tunnel and just below that was where the 6 or 7 bees were hanging out near a hole. The bees were working hard the last few days to get all the honey out of the combs. I couldn't track them to that branch though. I looked throughout the two oaks on the property that they would move to and didn't see any sign of them. Not much i can do at this point but hope they have shelter. I put all the comb into one box without a couple frames i made and put all the frames into the other box. From reading on here and other sites, i think i will set up a sugar solution in the box that has the frames and hope if something happens they will come to the box. They have been in and out of the boxes, the trashcan and the bits of the comb that were empty getting everything they can. I've done all i can do at this point i think and I continue to research so i will be more prepared for them. Maybe i'll trap them, or maybe i woon't know where they are and just get a portion when they swarm.

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