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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just got my first lead on doing a cutout. It is in an old house that is being gutted and renovated...haven't been there to actually inspect the actual situation yet.

I've read a recent thread here that someone posted about doing a cutout behind a plaster wall. I'm not sure if this house has plaster walls yet, but I found all those posts very helpful.

My primary question isn't how to get to the bees, but what is the best thing to do with them once I get them? Cut sections of brood comb and rubber band them into frames? I know it can be hard to find the queen, so if I don't I was thinking the best thing to do would be to start a few nucs (as many as possible depending on the size of the hive and population). As long as I have open brood in each nuc, the workers will raise a queen, correct?

Or, if I find the queen, should I keep them all together in one hive? ...and if I don't find the queen, maybe just add the brood and bees to a weak colony?

My overall intention is to make as many increases as possible since it is so early in the year and they will have plenty of time to build up.

Any thoughts/suggestions are much appreciated!
 

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First and foremost get a bee vac.
Second, rubberband the comb into the frames making sure you orient the combs like they came out.
Third, keep them all together for a few weeks until they settle and build more brood.
Fourth, check if the queen is laying eggs after two weeks of hiving.

Keep in mind, unless you are adding a queen to each nuc, they need to have fresh eggs (or real young larvae) to raise a new queen.
 

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First and foremost get a bee vac.
Second, rubberband the comb into the frames making sure you orient the combs like they came out.
Third, keep them all together for a few weeks until they settle and build more brood.
Fourth, check if the queen is laying eggs after two weeks of hiving.

Keep in mind, unless you are adding a queen to each nuc, they need to have fresh eggs (or real young larvae) to raise a new queen.
This is my second year doing cut outs. I did 7 last year, a few with a bee vac and a few without. I think you should manage your expectations on what you receive from the cut out. Not one cut out that I did last year survived. Granted I had one abscond, I combined some, one was extremely aggressive so I destroyed it, I had some that just wouldn't recover, and I made some mistakes. A cut out is very traumatic to the colony. I would not expect to do multiple splits I just don't think they will survive. Also I was about 50/50 on finding queens. So that is another issue. I would just try to get the largest concentration in one hive then (requeen if your in an africanized area) then feed until they recover. Or if you have a hive that won't make it combine it.
 

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I never use a bee vac and I own three of them. There have been many posts of step by step cutouts and many youtube videos of cutouts. Watch those. Try to take everything you think you might need and there will still be things you wish you had. Have several buckets with lids. Have a bucket of water for the stickiness. Cutouts are messy. Another person is very helpful when trying to hold combs and rubber band them into frames. I'm always doing it by myself. You probably won't find the queen, but if you keep brushing the bees into the new hive and rubber banding the brood comb into frames and putting that in the new hive, she is likely to end up there anyway. Keep in mind if you smoke them a lot the queen is likely to run and hide in some corner. If you see a lot of bees back in some corner, she is likely there.
 

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You can borrow my beevac if you want. I've done them both ways and find it easier with a beevac and kill fewer bees that way. Office max has big bags of rubberbands, can't remember which number work for medium frames, I can look when I get home. I learned to use a fishing fillet knife for cutting combs out and cutting to size, they are nice and sharp and long enough to cut all the way through the comb. I also leave the smoker close by but but don't bother lighting it unless the bees start getting a little hot. Wait until we have dandelions blooming. Colonies will still be pretty small so you may not be able to split it and get a good queen if they raise one, need LOTS of nurse bees to get good queens.
 

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You'll likely run out of buckets (no matter how many you have), trash bags are a good backup plan for dry comb. If you are planning to save honey for extraction, just keep the stuff that looks good enough to eat as comb when it comes out. We have an SHB problem so I try to put no more than 8 good pieces of brood comb into frames and no honey; they need to be pretty dense with bees to recover. Still the majority of folks I've talked to have had more cut out colonies perish than survive.

I have a bee vac and really do not like using it. It's hard on bees. But still I carry it on calls. If I use it, it's for either my or the customers benefit. Early on, I did a cutout on a large aggressive colony that would cloud my veil to the point I could not see, I took a dozen stings despite a triple mesh suit – the vac got used. We’ve had newbees get intimidated and abandon cut out jobs midway through. I think a vac can help a newbee get out of a threatening situation. Another time I removed a colony that were gentle as lambs but used the vac in a mop-up operation – residential area with small lots where the home owner was concerned about getting things tightened up before kids arrived home from school and dogs were getting turned out into backyards.
 

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Thanks for the mention on the fishing fillet knife. I haven't had a sharp enough knife no matter what kitchen knife I bring, and I've wanted something for a smoother comb cut, esp for brood comb.

I did a cut out from a 55 gal plastic barrel last Sunday without a vacuum. I moved all the brood comb and got 4 frames and one frame of pollen, rubber banded into the frames. All the soft, empty, and honey comb went into a covered pail. Then as bees gathered in clumps inside the barrel I used my bee brush and gently kept gathering scoops and putting into the hive. When most of the bees were out of the barrel, I set the hive box where the barrel had been and moved the barrel a distance away, and squirted a decent amount of bee go inside the barrel. They are within a mile of orange groves so they have a good flow right now to rebuild. On Saturday I will go check on them, watch the entrance and see how things are going.

At the same property, I had a bait box set up which a swarm moved into last Saturday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the offer on the bee vac, David. I'll keep that in mind.

I talked to the owner yesterday and he said he hasn't been in the house for a couple years because the bees hive entrance is right by the front door. He also said the last time he was in there that the wall the bees are behind was stained yellow as if honey might be soaking through.

I was also wondering, with the likeliness that there is asbestos and/or lead in these walls, should I be concerned that it could contaminate the wax and honey? Should we use this for human consumption? My wiie uses the wax for lotion, so we are also wondering if it would be safe to use that as well.
 

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I like course bread knifes. Lead would be in the paint. So dust is the issue. Asbestos would be in the plaster. Dust. In Most cases I feed it back to the bees. Some times into Mead or personal use if it is CLEAN. Wax get melted down and sold to people like blacksmith or candle makers. I use capping for lip balm.
David
 
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