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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hubby and I just closed on a historic property here in SWFL. It will need some work. We noticed a few weeks before closing that there is a colony living in one of the walls that we were planning to tear out, and when we had the house inspected for termites, the inspector said we had two options: Kill the bees (unthinkable, Hubby's aunt is a beekeeper) or have them removed to an apiary. He also confirmed that they are honey bees.

After much discussion, we think we are going to get a few hives and have aunt help us get the colony out of the wall (she has been a beekeeper for over 20 years, and she is visiting for the next few months) and keep them. I have always wanted to keep bees, it was just never a "practical" thing. Now, it would be, so we are seriously considering it.

Some of the questions that I have are, will the colony adapt well to being taken from the wall and placed in a hive? What would the best way to approach this be? Do I need to worry about the race of the bees? (They seem to be very docile.) Aunt has all kinds of ideas, but I want some more input from some other experienced bee people!

Thanks,
Monk
 

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try the search function at thr top of the page for "trap out" good luck and have fun!
 

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Also search on the term "cutout". There are several threads - some with pictures - on getting bees out of walls.

But let me back up a bit... Welcome to the world of beekeeping! I'm sure you'll find this a fascinating and addictive hobby. There's a subforum here "How to Start Beekeeping" that covers many of the basics. Check your local library for books & videos on beekeeping, and more importantly, get involved with a local beekeeping club:
http://apisenterprises.com/fsba/fsbalocal.htm

Clubs often offer beginning beekeeping classes and are great places to find mentors and get connected with other local beeks. Much of beekeeping is "location specific", so the local beeks are your best source of info on what works best in your particular area.
 

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>Some of the questions that I have are, will the colony adapt well to being taken from the wall and placed in a hive?

Most likely.

> What would the best way to approach this be?

A cut out. As mentioned, do a search, and you'll find many discussions.

>Do I need to worry about the race of the bees? (They seem to be very docile.)

I wouldn't as long as they are not agressive now. Of course they may get a bit agressive during the cutout, and I wouldn't hold that against them...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mike: I did, and didn't find a lot. I will try that again though!

Indy: Thanks! This is something I have wanted to do since I was a kid, no idea why. I already know what I need to do to get OK'd here in FL, and there is a local meeting for my area on Wednesday, so I am going to attend. The only thing that makes me a little nervous is the whole licensing thing: you have to have your hives inspected here, and some of the things that I have read say that keeping feral bees is against some state regulation, but I can't find anything concrete on it. (FL beeks have any insight??)

There is also a two-day "bee college" in March, I am going to try to attend that as well!

Mike: I figured a cutout, as the wall will have to go anyway, and that would be the least stressful for the bees. Since this will be a light remodel with a little demo, we have everything we need....

Here's another question. I have seen conflicting answers on: Tell the neighbors or not? We will be putting in a 6' privacy fence, so the hive will be fenced in. Why did you, or didn't you, tell your neighbors?

Thanks, everyone!
Monk
 

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Not a bad idea, especially if you need to get the bees out of the house anyway, but not the easiest way to get into beekeeping. I think most beekeepers who have cut bees out of walls will confirm that the learning curve is pretty steep. The losses of colonies from the first cut-outs are usually pretty high. Again, it's worth a try I think, but if you're interested in keeping bees, plan on buying some or getting some from your aunt as well.
 

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Also try a Google search on honeybee cutout our somesuch... it's pretty straightforward for a beekeeper. The bees need to be brushed or vacummed into the new colony, but most importantly their comb needs to be rubberbanded or tied into empty frames. You wouldn't move to a new house without the kids and furniture, right? :) They won't either.

As to the neighbors, do you know them? What kind of neighborhood to you have? Here in my town I keep some of my colonies right on Main Street. But then dogs run free, people respect other people's privacy and most houses still have hitching posts. Most of my neighbors thought it was great that I got bees. Some points:

I make a point to sit in a chair at the colony entrance with no protective gear, drinking a pint, watching the bees come and go. You learn a lot about colony behavior from the entrance, but it's also great PR for your neighbors to see you right at the colony not getting stung. People will inch closer and closer, asking you questions and telling you about their grandpa's bees.

Call them "honeybees". For some reason, I think it invokes images of Winnie the Pooh and honey jars and less about stings.

Tell folks that most stings (90% here in CO) are caused by the yellowjacket alone, which is NOT a honeybee. Honeybees die when they sting, so they have an incentive to only do it when they think their home is in danger.

Good advice for beginners, but especially for urban beeks: don't dress for Chernobyl clean-up when working your bees :D! If you can get by with a simple veil, pants and shirt (short-sleeve preferred), not only will YOU learn to be more comfortable with your bees and find how gentle they are most of the time, your neighbors will feel reassured to see that you don't have all this armor while they're trying to play with their kids. Stress that slow, gentle movements will help to not "scare" the bees.

Get informed (you're on Beesource which is a great start)! Do a search on "neighbor" for some ideas. People will have questions, and if you can collaboratively educate them you'll have much better odds. Things like 1) foraging bees don't sting unless caught, crushed or provoked, 2) bees forage up to eight miles away... it's counterintuitive, but having a colony here doesn't really increase your risk of meeting a bee because they're looking for big patches of blooms, 3) having these gentle, beneficial pollinators will increase garden yields and ornamental seed-set, and 4) that the bees need our help, and that having a managed colony helps slow the spread of Africanized honeybees by keeping European (gentler) genes in the gene pool (an issue in your area).

Learn about allergies! Most people feel that since their "whole arm" swelled up last time they were stung, they are "deathly allergic". Some doctors even feed into this fear. Never be dismissive of people's fears, but this is a NORMAL reaction. Stings hurt and are memorable, that's why bees' stings are so successful evolutionarily. When people say they're allergic, I politely ask them to be sure that they keep their epi-pen close (you do have one of course?) in the unlikely event they do get stung by a yellowjacket or other non-honeybee, which is statistically more than 10 times more likely than one of my bees. There are stinging insects EVERYWHERE outdoors, and someone who's clinically allergic needs to be prepared whether they're at the ballpark (where yellowjackets are in the countless thousands) or on their patio.

Have an extra veil and offer to let kids and neighbors take a look when you're working the girls. I did this with my neighbor across the street, and showed her a baby bee being "born" (chewing out of her cell) and it was a life-changer for her. She became the most militant "Ben's bees are the best thing that ever happened to Lyons" advocate I could want! Kids also think bees are cool, many to most kids seem to go through a "bug" phase. Kids should have FULL protective gear on, and I think the same for guests.

Have water for your bees. Nothing will sour a neighbor quicker than skimming 30 bees out of their hot tub ever time they go to use it.

Share honey.

And have fun!
 

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The only thing that makes me a little nervous is the whole licensing thing: you have to have your hives inspected here, and some of the things that I have read say that keeping feral bees is against some state regulation, but I can't find anything concrete on it. (FL beeks have any insight??)
I heard Jerry Hayes talk about this some when we had him for a speaker at one of our Indiana State Beekeeping meetings. As I understood it, Florida "recommends" that feral hives be destroyed, but I didn't think it was a hard and fast regulation. Florida strongly encourages beekeepers to follow their published Best Practices in order to reduce the chances of African bees taking over your colonies. The best place to go for accurate info on this:
http://www.doacs.state.fl.us/pi/plantinsp/apiary/apiary.html#geninfo

There is also a two-day "bee college" in March, I am going to try to attend that as well!
I'm sure you'll have a great time!
 

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It's not illegal to capture feral hives in FL. The state recommends that they be requeened ASAP with European queens or destroyed. Even though we're in a AHB area we've had no problems and we do catch swarms, as many as we can! We have had a few temporarily hot hives, but not anything like the swarming attacks of AHB. I started beekeeping back in the late 50's and believe me, we had hot hives back then, too.
 

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When you do the cutout, take lots of pictures! You'll be glad you did.
 

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I agree on all the before mentioned info, I have done a couple cutouts, and have had better luck with them than with swarms. so I will say, "Good Luck" and
 

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the one peace of addvice i can give is to requeen the hive once they are astablished in there new home your aunt should know how to do this
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks to everyone for the positive, informative replies! It is refreshing to see other people willing to share their wisdom.

Here is where we are now: Aunt talked to a local beekeeper in our area, and I need to call him to come take a look; he told her that he can tell if the bees are AHB or not. So I am going to call him and try to set up a time where Aunt can be there too. He recommended that "most likely" they are AHB, so he will recommend killing or removing, but we shall see. I don't think they are, Aunt doesn't think they are, so hopefully they are not. They are just so mellow.

I already considered requeening, just because of everything I have read, it seems right, but why? I haven't yet come across the answer to that.

Looking up cutout info and watching videos...oh my goodness, it looks fun! As far as pictures, I document things constantly, so I will probably video it too!

I guess I better order some hive bodies this week, and some frames (I want to learn to build my own, so might as well get started).

I'll keep you all posted on progress, and I will try to get some pics of the girls in situ over the next few days! They have been pollen-laden and so cute.

Thanks!
Monk
 

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>I already considered requeening, just because of everything I have read, it seems right, but why? I haven't yet come across the answer to that.

There is concern by the beekeeping experts there about Africanized Honey Bees. I know many people there who capture ferals and don't requeen. Of course if they get aggressive I would requeen them.
 

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From what I've read, you cannot tell by looking, whether bees are African or not. And even European bees, under the right circumstances, can become exceedingly aggressive. So aggressiveness is not necessarily an indication of africanized bees. fyi.
Steven
 

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>So aggressiveness is not necessarily an indication of Africanized bees.

But aggressiveness is the real issue. If they are AHB and not aggressive then you hit the mother lode. Nice bees that can fight Varroa and survive well. If they are EHB and they ARE aggressive, you don't want them anyway. If they are AHB and they are aggressive, what are you going to do differently?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I talked to the bee guy yesterday, and he seemed very positive about me wanting to keep the bees. He was going to recommend that I go to the meeting on Wednesday, and was happy that I had planned to. After I explained a bit, he didn't seem too worried about the bees being aggressive/AHB, and told me, "don't worry about it". He will be coming out to look on Monday or Tuesday, and we will come up with a game plan then, so I will keep everyone posted!

>So aggressiveness is not necessarily an indication of Africanized bees.

But aggressiveness is the real issue. If they are AHB and not aggressive then you hit the mother lode. Nice bees that can fight Varroa and survive well. If they are EHB and they ARE aggressive, you don't want them anyway. If they are AHB and they are aggressive, what are you going to do differently?
Great way to sum it up!
 

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> Florida's beekeepers have been given 10 guidelines (called the Best Management Practices) that if practiced will ensure their bees to be European. If the beekeeper is following the BMPs, then he or she is not keeping Africanized bees, but if the BMPs are not being followed, there is no way to be sure.

Visit the AFBEE Program website at http://afbee.ifas.ufl.edu

or contact your local county extension agent
 
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