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This weekend a friend called to tell me that she had a new swarm in a hollow tree branch. I had previously created a super-mild bee vacuum so I trundled off to give it a shot.

Unfortunately the "hollow tree branch" turned out to be a cavity beyond a plug of sorts in a mullberry tree. While I could get the bees, I could not get the queen. After vacuuming up maybe a half pound of bees, no more came out. At this point I was about to just release the bees back into the hive. Since I had a new commercial queen coming I decided to take the bees I vacuumed up and create a nuc for her.

I checked them before I cleaned up the site and they looked pretty happy. When I got home however 95% of the bees were dead. The only thing I can assume is that while the weather was very mild, the temperature in the bucket was more than the girls could stand.

Any advice on future bee vacuuming escapades?

Thanks.

RG
 

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It could have easily been the heat. How warm was it and how long were they in there? When you say bucket do you mean a plastic bucket? I like to use a plastic bucket and lid to catch swarms, but they overheat really fast if you leave them in there too long.
 

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That really sucks (for the bees) and you. A robo style vac is what I use and a large portion of the top is screen. I also use a screen "gate" on the bottom opening. Still... some do perish, but no where near 95%.
Ventillation is key when you perform a cutout.
 

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Likely the dryness as opposed to temperature IMO.
One of the few things I've done right in beekeeping is my vacuum. I used two "boxes" that are the same outer dimensions as a deep (or medium, shallow etc) box. One is the top and the other is the bottom. In between I put a deep with frames. My small vacuum supplies suction through a hole in the bottom. This bottom box has #8 mesh hardware cloth. I put the hose for the bees in the top box so the bees get sucked into the deep hive body. Every time I use it I am amazed at how few bees die. I did a huge take out two weeks ago and I would estimate there were 50k bees. I'd bet that fewer than 300 bees were killed.
 

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They cook inside a vac in no time at all. There's nothing for them to climb on that resembles comb so they're just piled up on top of each other in the bottom of the container. Mine has a cage of hardware cloth that fits inside a 7 gallon bucket and even that doesn't provide enough surface for them to separate and fan.

When I use the vac I'm careful to not turn it off until I'm ready to pop the cover and remove the cage. I don't vacuum for more than a few minutes before emptying them into the hive. I stop vacuuming as soon as I see indications that the queen is in the box and let them vacate the cavity on their own.

The main problem I have is getting too aggressive and clogging the hose. When that happens you have to work fast to get them out before they start dying.
 

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I may have stumbled upon the answer but if I did it was a mistake. I use a ten frame box as I described above and the hose I use is about 2" diameter for sucking bees. I just had this laying around so I used it. The hose for the vacuum unit is a 1-1/4". Maybe the hose being larger and a ten frame receptacle gives the bees a softer ride and landing zone?
 
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