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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Got a call from the water dept about 2 meter boxes with honey bees. Have never done a meter box removal before.

Just got back from the first meter box, several lessons:
1. If I am going to do this regularly I MUST have a bee vac. Plan to build one this winter.
2. Scooping bees, comb, honey out of meter box by hand is really messy and inefficient. Absolutely cannot tell if I got the queen or not. Put them into nuc with some empty comb from other hive (I do not have any available brood comb, unfortunately).
3. Sprayed box with white vinegar to try to force the rest of the bees to leave (if I got the queen). Will check over the next couple of days to see if I was successful. Left the entire top of the box open.
4. Put the bees and comb into 5 frame nuc, closed it up and brought it home. Plan to leave it closed in shaded garage for 2 days to keep them from overheating and induce them to stay in nuc. Would like to overwinter in the nuc if I can.

Plan to go do the other box after lunch. Will update and ask for advice once I am done and am trying to figure out how to keep them all home. It is fun, and certainly a challenge.
 

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Wouldn't it be better to leave the box there? That way the rest of the bees and the queen (if you didn't get her) would move in. I usually leave the box in place for 2 nights and pick it up the third. Seems to get the queen every time...good luck with the second one!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Steveo

That is a good idea, but unfortunately I did not get it until I got everything back here to the house. Next time.....

Second meter box was absolutely stuffed with bees and comb. They had apparently been there for 3 months. It took me an hour to remove all of the comb and as many bees as I could scoop up with my hands (DEFINITELY need a bee vac.) A lot of honey, a lot of brood and a lot of bees. Now to get them settled and hope they will stay. I plan to seal the hive for a day or so, and cover the entrance with branches to force them to reorient. It does have a screened bottom, so there should be enough ventilation to keep them cool.

All suggestions are very welcome.
 

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We have done all sorts of boxes, flower pots etc. Before we had the bee vac we would cut out the comb and put it in a nuc and get as many bees into the nuc as we could by scooping with a piece of cardboard, a dust pan=what ever we had. Then we would leave the nuc in place till dark. If we had the queen all the bees would be in the nuc. If we did not have the queen it would be closer to 50% in the nuc and the other half with the queen.
Since we built our bee vac we just vacuum up the bees cut the comb and head on back to the apiary. I have a couple of hives we use for cut outs with queen excluders staple to a frame that sits under the hive body. Then we put the bees and a little bit of brood comb in and put the top on. We usually feed cut outs for a couple of weeks. With the queen excluder on the bees generally will not abscond and they can forage right away. With bees that we collect out of odd places we monitor their aggressiveness closely and if we see that they are beginning to ramp up their defensiveness as the hive grows then we will put a frame of eggs from a gentler hive in and take all the uncapped brood to another hive. Then we locate the queen and snuff her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
JimSteeleJr

Thanks for the information. It appears I made a mistake by not knowing to get as many as I could and leaving the nuc/hive in place for a couple of days. Live and learn. I now have the hive in place in the yard, with a lot of leafy branches over the entrance. There are bees all over the place where I cut out the comb and rubber banded it into the frames. A lot of honey everywhere, so I expect some are the new bees and some are opportunists from other hives. I had to park the truck on a slope so the honey in the bed could drain out! I do not know if the meter bees will find my hive(s) or not, it is a distance of about 100'.

Now it is just wait and see if they stay and flourish. There is a lot of their own comb and brood, so I think the chances are good. There is even a little uncapped brood so maybe they can make a queen if I do not have one. (crossed fingers) I do not plan to open the hive for at least 3-4 weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
BeeMan

Yes, I thought about pics, but decided I was covered with so much honey and my camera is not water proof!

Is there any way to do this sort of thing without being covered head to toe? Bee suit and gloves to be washed, all tools into hot soapy water. I had no idea that being had by bees would be so sticky!
 

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I've done similar cut outs in irrigation valve boxes. If you don't do this all the time and still need a bee vacuum try building a Rubbermaid BeeVac. I built one and it worked real well in my opinion. Here is the link on the how to build it
http://bylers.tripod.com/beevac.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, TPalmer. I will be looking at various designs during the winter. I had never seen this one before. First I need to find a garage sale shop vac to power the whole thing.
 

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This is the kind of bucket bee vac I built and use. You can build it in a couple of hours when you gather your supplies. You need 3 buckets, 1 bucket and lid per catch bucket, a bucket vac motor and hose, PVC pipe fittings for the hose connection through the lid, and #8 hardware cloth to line the catch bucket.

Its vital to line the whole inside of the catch bucket with the hardware cloth so the bees can spread out on the walls and not get overcrowded and overheated.

You adjust the suction by putting your hand over the intake on the vacuum head, since the hose suction is primarily exhaust suction. The more you cover the head intake, the more hose suction. You can also adjust it with more or less hardware cloth oner the suction hole.

If you take out a catch bucket full of bees, and bees start flying to the screened sides of the catch bucket from the surrounding area to cluster and fan, you know the queen is in that bucket. Free bees will cover the bucket containing the queen like a giant queen cage. ;)

http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php?topic=40478.0;all

Ill try to remember to post some pics of mine.
 

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How big are these meter boxes?
We tend to like the heavy duty rubber cleaning gloves to do our removals. Very easy to rinse off the honey mess in a bucket of warm water. We will rinse off the gloves many many times during the extraction. Anytime any honey gets dripped on anything it gets washed off with a wash cloth right away.
Rinse well every time before grabbing any tool makes clean up much easier.

The guys thought I was nuts having them rinse and wash while extracting so I let them do it their way ONCE.
Clean up of tools and equipment went from 15 minutes to over an hour. Now.... they think I'm a genius! lol
 

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You and I are doing the same thing, several states apart.

Here is the vac that I built (the third one), and it has been the most efficient and bee friendly one by far. It's also the lightest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
BeeMan

Great idea. I presume these are the 12-15" gloves, not the nitrile ones.

The meter box is about the size of a deep super. There were so many bees and it was so full of comb that I think it would have swarmed soon, even though it is late in the summer. There was just no more room.
 

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The 9mil nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight work great, and can be run through the washing machine. Only got stung once when I mashed a bee against a comb. Been stung way more through my leather gloves. The only down side is they are black, which get hot in the sun.
 

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Marant,

I am in no way working for Bushkill, but i built one of the "box in a box' Vacuums and used it for 2 hives. My kill rate was very high 45%.

I read about the Beevac sold by Bushkill and decided to order it, $175 or so. It has been the best investment i have done for my removals. Most times we get 85 to 95% of the bees only leaving the foragers that were still gone. The kill rate (once we learned how to regulate it) dropped to around 5% or less. Check it out i do not think you will be disappointed, watch the video on you tube.
 

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Bee vac can easily be made. If you own a table saw. Take a deep or med super cut in. Cut two pieces of 1/4 ply wood to make a top and bottom. Apply a bead of calk to the edge where the plywood is going an nail the plywood on. Drill three holes. I use 2" vac hose and pick up fitting from the wood working supply house. Make my hole size in my case 2". Drill a hole in the side of each box. And one through the plywood. Apply some screening to the plywood and on the same box the vac hole. Add a box with drawer comb and a ratchet strap and you are done. A hour at the most. Some weather striping goes a t
Long way.
David
 

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One thing with all bee vacs is that the bees are not crammed on top of one another and that they have a fairly soft landing when they enter the box. We have built several and they all have adjustments for the amount of airflow that creates the suction. What we have found is that we can increase the suction and still not kill the bees by providing a soft landing area. In our case I will pull 20 or so paper towels off a roll and stuff them into the vac loosely. We hardly ever loose a bee even on full vac.
 

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I actually reversed engineered my BushKill Vac and made a spare or to have another in case we had to do two cut outs in one day...which has happened twice this spring/summer, only cost about $30 in material. Works great! I changed it up enough not to fall into patent infringement problems. :) I do intend to make another just to put on the shelf. I hadn't thought about using a hive body thanks for the idea.
 
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