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I recieved a call from a man who wants me to remove honeybees from a large Elm Tree. I havent yet seen the tree but the bees are up about 15' and the tree is over 2' in diameter and he would rather not take out the tree but is receiving complaints from neighboring properties. How would I remove a colony like that without destrying them or the tree?
 

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Look up "trap out." It takes about 8 weeks but except for the cone set up it's easy. I've done it and it worked VERY well. You get paid and you get a new hive with a fresh queen.
 

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How would I remove a colony like that without destrying them or the tree?

You don't. Those are pretty much your options. Back in the old days, people would chop a hole in the side of a tree to steal honey, and then fill in the hole with mud and stones so the bees would continue to use the cavity to store more honey.

A trap out just catches the field bees. As long as there is brood and the queen inside the tree, it remains a viable hive. It is a good way to gather more bees to boost an existing colony you have, but not a good way to start a new colony.

If you want to remove the bees, take a chainsaw to the tree and split the cavity open. Then cut out the combs and rubber band them into frames.
 

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With a proper trap out the only thing left inside of the tree would be empty comb. You will catch all of the field bees, young and old, to the point that the queen and some of the bees will absond. After that remove the trap out cone and let them rob out the honey. You will need a comb of brood with eggs for the bait hive, the first bees that trapped out will pull an emergency queen cell and start a new hive all the while more and more bees are being trapped out. You can get several hives from this if they are of good size. It takes time and effort to get them out but can be rewarding.

G3
 
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