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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There were some bees found in my parents backyard in a very small underground box where the water main shutoff valve is. I don't know enough about bees, but it seems like such a small place for them to choose! There is comb in there, but I don't even know if it is enough to fill a whole frame. I would like to rescue them, but am not sure how to go about it. Any advice? The gardner found them and unfortunately was using a pole to try to get some comb for honey. One interesting thing is that these bees are sure getting a lot of purple pollen as there are a lot of cells full of it. I have no idea if there is a queen.
 

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Do you have the equipment/experience to perform the rescue? If not call a local beekeeper that does cutouts/captures of feral bees. If you do have some beekeeping experience and have the confidence to try this, get a 3-5 frame NUC hivebox, remove as much of the comb as possible and using rubber-bands install it into an standard frames with no foundation. If there is worker brood/eggs then there is a queen so start looking very carefully for her. The trick will be catching the queen and as many bees as possible. Once the combs and queen are in the NUC then leave the open Nuc next to the old hive location and many of the bees will start finding their way back into the NUC. After you've caught as many of the bees as possible block the entrance with screen and move the NUC away from the old location. Leave them closed in the box for 2 days to break the link to their old location. Store in a cool dry location so they don't get overheated etc. Set the hive in its new location and release them. Feed them syrup and block the entrance down to one inch. You may be able to go back and catch some more bees that where left behind. They will ball in their old location and you catch them in some sort of container for transfer to the NUC. After that cover the shutoff valve box to block any remaining bees from returning. They will eventually give up and fly off. Again, only try all this if you have the experience and equipment, if not call an expert.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, I'm really not that experienced. I have two hives that I just started in April. However, I feel confident enough to do this myself because it is such a small amount of bees. I just want to make sure that I know exactly what to do so I really appreciate any advice I can get. When you say to leave the nuc open by the bees original place you do mean just leaving it without the reducer and still keeping the top on right? How long should I leave it there? I have a five frame nuc - should I put all of the frames in? If they are all foundationless and the comb that I rubber band in doesn't completely fill out a frame should I have another frame with wax foundation to give them more of a guide? What if there isn't a queen? What if there are laying workers? If I am ultimately moving the nuc to a spot that is several miles away do I still need to keep them screened in for a couple of days? Sorry for all the questions, but I need to know! Thank you for the input
 

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I'm new as well, but if there is brood and eggs then there is a queen in the somewhere. put as much comb in the foundationless frames and fill the rest of the 5 frame nuc up with foundation frames. Leave the box there until night time then you can move them to your new spot, with a reducer. I wouldn't put a screen on them as they have eggs and most likely a queen so they should stick around. Feed them 1 to 1 and things should go fine.
 

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If you are moving them a couple miles away you do not need to screen them in. You should be prepared for aggressive behavior. Small hives/swarms on the ground in your state and mine, Florida, are usually Africanized. If they are requeened it will change their genetics in a few weeks. Fill the hive out with all the frames so they do not shift around in transit. The more of a home-like environment you can give them the higher your chance of success. Comb is ideal, foundation is good, bare frames will be a wonderful learning experience. They will draw comb any way they wish and you will have to keep cutting comb to inspect the hive until you train them. They are likely to abandon your hive with all open frames too. I have done several removals just like that. If they are calm through the process let them alone for a couple weeks and check for brood. I have one or two pictures from when I taught someone last year at americasbeekeeper dot com Gallery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think one reason why I feel reluctant to put in foundation is because what if these bees are drawing small cells? If so, I would like to keep it that way. I highly doubt they are africanized because when the gardener was poking at them they didn't retaliate at all. I also have not heard of any reports of AHB in my county - not to say that they aren't here, I just am not aware of it and have tried to find information about them being here. I will still suit up though and use a smoker.
 

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No problem on questions we are all here to learn. There are people here with more experience doing cutouts/removals than me so they can provide better advice about the finer points.

If the combs are smaller than the frame and/or irregular in shape that doesn't matter. Just band them in as straight as you can, the bees will fasten them to the frame in a week or so. These frames won't be pretty but you'll be removing them later on anyway. Fill as many as possible with recovered comb. Center those frames then stick a frame with foundation on either side of the rubber banded comb frames.

I would set the NUC with recovered combs and queen right on top of that meter hole. Put the lid on but slide it back a little and keep the hive entrance open. The bees in the hive will fan there wings to spread the "home" pheromone into the air telling the bees flying around to "come on in" so leaving the NUC opened up a little will allow more to find their way back in. Leave it there towards dusk and go back before it gets dark so you have light to work. If there are still a cluster of bees in the meter hole try and gently remove them with some sort of scoop like a plastic bowl or whatever and dump them in the hive before closing it up. Even though you are moving the hive a good distance I would still leave them in a nice quiet location to cool down for at least until next morning. Release them in the early afternoon and feed them the 1 to 1.

Two ways you can tell if there is no queen. One the bees will be somewhat mean and also check to see if there are multiple eggs in each cell, a clear indication that the workers are laying. If there is a queen there should be worker cells with one nice egg per. Verifying you indeed got the queen would be a big help to making this all work. Inspect each comb as you pull it out. If you find the queen you might stick her in some sort of holding container until you put all the banded combs into the NUC and then insert her directly onto on the comb. Now as AmericasBeekeeper said, verify that they are not Africanized. If they are then re-queen. We don't have Africanized honeybees up here in the northwest so he's the best to advise you there.

Bees sometimes build in the strangest places, that are impossible to work in the long run. Last summer I removed a nest from my friends brother's place to a old 10 frame I had lying around. They where in a small birdhouse that was probably a cavity of only 7" x 7" x 9". The bees where building on the outside by the time I got to it. I asked him if he wanted me to set the hive up in his back lot and he said yes. They are doing just fine now, in fact Tom loves his bee's so much he started 2 more hives this spring. His wife baked me my favorite pie for helping him find a new hobby. She says since he retired a couple years ago he's been driving her nuts but now he's always outside messing with his bees:D. Good luck with all this. Take some pictures of the capture and post them up. Let the forum know how it turns out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the great advice!

So if the pieces of comb that are in the hole are really small, like 5" by 5", and there are only two of them, should I put them both into one frame? Or would it be better to put each one in its own frame? I'm not sure if there are more pieces than that but I will find out!
 

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I'm in Contra Costa, & haven't heard of any AHB in you're area either. That doesn't mean a migratory beekeeper didn't bring some into your county though.

If you leave the nuc box sitting there till dark, all the foragers will be in the box.
 

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So if the pieces of comb that are in the hole are really small, like 5" by 5", and there are only two of them, should I put them both into one frame? Or would it be better to put each one in its own frame?
I don't think it matters. If I was doing it I'd probably put one in each frame so I could get two going. As KQ6AR said most foragers will be in the NUC near dark. Just leave yourself some daylight to work by. If its dark and you have to use a flash light the bees will be swarming around that light source.
 
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