Just wanted to report that I used my new Owen's bee vac (brushy mountain) the other day. All-in-all I think that it is well designed and built. If you've not seen one, it is a five gallon bucket with a gasketed lid that screws on. A small shop vac motor is mounted to the lid. Inside the bucket is a cylindrical cage made from wood and screening into which the bees are contained. In the side of the bucket there is a hole and in the side of the cage there is a trap door with a sprung hinge to hold it closed (the cage also has a lid that latches down which can be removed to dump out the bees). You line up the holes and then insert the hose through the hole in the bucket, pushing open the trap door in the cage. Lastly, there is a gate valve in the side of the bucket so one can control the amount of suction created (I had the valve wide open the entire time that I used the vac).
Anyway, I did a large nest removal and vacuumed 10-12 lbs. of bees (hiving about half and then going back to get the other 6 lbs.) The vast majority of the bees survived. They were a little sticky but not too much of a mess at all. The only real problem that I had was with the trap door. When the hose is removed, the trap door is supposed to snap closed so that you can remove the cage of bees from the bucket all nice and neat. However, lack of a simple modification to the door prevented it from working properly. Bees get caught in the door hinge (squished) and cause it to hang open. If I tried to remove the hose, the door would not close tightly and bees would come pouring out. Attempts to clear the hinge and get the door to close properly failed since there were just too many bees.
Simply removing the door and cutting it's hinge side at a 30 degree angle should fix this issue. I've modified mine already, but have not tested it. I think it will work fine, now, though.
I think this vacuum is a pretty good product at a reasonable price.
I have the owens bee vac too and the door is my only problem with it. I'm going to modify mine like you did. Thanks for sharing that tip. I don't like to use it much for the same reason Micheal stated. I just use it when I have no other choice. I used it last week and had too many dead bees.
The Scotchman inside of me won't let me spend money on something that can be so easily made with materials most of us have on hand already.
My homemade beevac, made usingidea s from the design on this website, works exceedingly well, and will not kill bees unless I am careless and use too much suction. To me, the beevac is the single most useful innovation in beekeeping to come along in the last 30 years. I have some outstanding colonies populated by bees that have all made the journey through the hose.
It makes me feel a little bad that Michael Bush, who spends so much time and effort helping other beekeepers, is not a beneficiary of this development.
I don't see the point of a bee vac. I can get the bees to go where I want without one, so why kill them and strees them and get them sticky when I can brush them into the box, put the brood in the box and not worry about it? I can see getting that last little clutser after dark, I guess, but I usually just brush them onto a dustpan and dump them in...
I glued a dense foam air filter for a lawn mower for a crash pad in the cage and the condition of the bees after vacuum is much better.
Its great for cleaning up swarms or removing bees from comb. If you try to vacuum up full swarms the bees tend to stick together and plug the hose.
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