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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's my problem. A friend has contracted to demolish a derelict house, and two catalpa trees in the small back yard. The base of one tree is about 4' in diameter, and about 20" above the ground, the tree splits into three trunks. One trunk was cut off about 8" above the split, and is solid wood. There are no gaps, holes, evidence of rot anywhere on the trunk/s.

Of course there's a feral colony. Their entrance is about a silver dollar size, 1/3 below ground level, the rest above ground level, at the base of the trunk. Because of the heavy flight population of bees, I was not able to get close to the entrance to check it out. Don't know how far up into the trunk the cavity goes for the hive, or if it goes down into the ground in part of the root system. At 11 am today, there was a steady stream of bees coming and going.

My friend wants to know what I'd charge to remove the bees from the tree, so he can remove the tree. I hate to see a colony this strong destroyed, but with all the variables, I suspect this might be one to walk away from.
Any suggestions?
Regards,
Steven
 

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I don't see why you couldn't screen close their exit early one AM, then cut it down as close to the ground as you can get without killing the chainsaw. I would have 2 pieces of plywood prepared that were roughly the size of hivebody, A cordless drill, screws, and some extra screen. once the tree is cut from the bottom, if you are at the bottom of the nest, quickly screw the plywood on, if not at the bottom of the nest, slowly cut off the bottom of the tree inch or so at a time till you get there. Same procedure for the top, cut down to the start of the nest and slap the 2nd piece of plywood on. Pick up throw in the back of truck, take home and leave until next spring. Although you would probably want to replace the top piece of plywood with one that had a hole cut in it roughly the size of the hole in the top of the tree, place a hive body with comb on top and make a top entrance, keep the screen over their old exit. In the spring when you catch the queen up there you put an excluder between box and board, 30 days later, pull the tree and you got you some ferrals. no mess no fuss.
 

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The base of one tree is about 4' in diameter, and about 20" above the ground, the tree splits into three trunks. One trunk was cut off about 8" above the split, and is solid wood. There are no gaps, holes, evidence of rot anywhere on the trunk/s.

Of course there's a feral colony. Their entrance is about a silver dollar size, 1/3 below ground level, the rest above ground level, at the base of the trunk. Because of the heavy flight population of bees, I was not able to get close to the entrance to
Pick up throw in the back of truck, take home and leave until next spring.
Paying attention to the size of the tree and where the entrance is it will take a realy strong guy the throw it in a truck :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
The problem is the entrance to the colony is partially below ground level, which tells me that at least part of the colony is in the root system, below ground level. Of course, there's no guarantee that's the case. That's a good part of my dilemma.

I didn't know if anyone else had dealt with a colony at, or below, ground level before.
Regards,
Steven
 

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This is something I did to close up some trees-
1.Take some window screen and crumple it up around the entrance. This is "rebar" for step 2
2. With your left hand hold a piece of 1.5 inch pvc (about 5-6 inches long) over the entrance, and with your right hand grab a can of spray foam and spray around the pipe.

You now have something that can be plugged and unplugged at your leisure. I do not have any idea how long it will hold, but I did this for a guy so that he could plug them up the evening after I did some tree plugging on his land. He never called and complained so it must have worked.


Mike
 

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Just cut the branches off above where the trunk splits... and cut off small sections at a time until you get to the top of the hive, then seal off that end with one of the pieces you cut off (just cut a sliver off of it to re-attach and seal the hive. Do that with each of the three main branches... if you don't reach the top of the hive above where the tree splits then work your way down the trunk, whenever you get to it, just do like I said and reseal the hive where you cut into it. Then if you're absolutely convinced that the hive goes underground (which I would not be unless I got in there with a fishtape or stick or something and proved to myself that it did) then dig up the main part of the root system where the roots are larger than 4" in diameter. Cut the rest of the roots then seal off the entrance to the hive early one morning with screen material and have a tree service meet you at the site to have them lift the tree up with their crane and put it in your truck or trailer... or actually I think you said this is your neighbor, so just move it over to your side of the property line. Reopen the entrance and leave it alone until spring then split it open and do a removal or do a trapout if you prefer.
 

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Maybe you could talk him/her into just cutting it down to where the colony starts, put a hive body on top, close up the bottom entrance(etc) and leave it there until the colony is in the hive body before moving it and cutting down the rest of the tree.
 

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Steven, last winter I had a bee tree located that had a similar ground level entrance. When I cut into the tree to see where things were, the comb was nowhere near the bottom. I've never seen a hollow root system before, but I guess it could be possible. Unfortunately, the bees died out or left when I went back to get them in the Spring. If you're willing to tackle the tree, I would cut away everythging except the area where the bees are located, then cap the bottom end with plywood and make a special bottom board with a large diameter hole the same size as the hole at the top of the log and set a hive box on that, making a top entrance. You can also put the log on top of a hive box in similar fashion. I did something similar last winter and early this spring and can attest that it works.

My current poroblem is a bee tree located where the entrance is about 20 ft up and the tree is close to 100 ft tall. A big ole oak tree.... It may remain as is....
 

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This is one cutout that I don't mind messing with.

Smoke the bees and cut the tree down.

Use the chainsaw to split the tree by cutting lengthways. (A sledge and wedges will work, but it really makes the bees mad.)

Use a bread knife to remove brood combs and rubberband into empty frames. Toss honey into a bucket.

I leave the box there until nightfall to catch all the free flying bees.

From the time I cut the tree down until I am cleaning up is usually right about an hour. I think the fastest I have done one was about 45 minutes, and an hour and a half was the longest. I do make sure I have a helper with me - I find it easier to rubberband combs into frames if I hold the combs and the frame and the helper puts the rubber bands on.

I don't try to see how fancy I can be. I do more of a smash and grab and I am done before the bees know what happened. In my experience the bees are more confused than anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the ideas. It was reassuring that none had seen a colony in a root system before, so the odds are they are up in the trunk somewhere.

My friend is bidding on this demolition job, so it turns out he won't know for another week whether or not he gets the job. If he does, I may have an opportunity. IF he has a chain saw... I don't. Usual rule of thumb here is they simply push over the trees in these kind of jobs. So I'll see what develops.
Regards,
Steven
 

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get a cordless drill and a lonnnnnng small bit, 1/4 or smaller start at the level of the other cut off limb, and drill hole into each section. if you go in and the bit sinks, you have hit hive. if not continue about 2 inches lower untill you have found cavity. plug hole into cavity. if you find it the first time, move up until you are above cavity. cut off trees above cavity. repeat process on roots looking for cavity. I doubt you will find it there, but this is a way to find out what you are dealing with.
also keep an eye on the property. just because your friend doesn't get the job, doesn't mean you won't get a shop at the bees....:D
 
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