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Discussion Starter #1
I need some opinions on removal of a colony from a telephone pole. I've successfully done 8 cutouts so far and feel pretty good about it, even the 7-ft long colony in a chimney (wow, what a pain in the ass). But, I wouldn't mind some insight on removal from this pole (or a tree if that is your experience), which I have not yet done.

Here's the skinny:
I got a call from a guy who said that the local power company (Puget Power) is replacing the poles along his street. These poles are old (cedar) and one of them has had a colony in its base for at least 3 years. I checked it out last weekend and here are the basics:
-The colony is in the base of the pole to about 6 ft up (based on the thump test)
-The pole is slightly over 2 ft in diameter at the base (it's a big one)
-The colony opening is at ground level, ovate, and approximately 6 by 8 inches set vertically.
-Based only on the what you can see at the entrance, the comb is oriented parallel to the opening.
-I probed downward and the cavity does extends downward, but is full of dirt/rotten wood (the bees are above ground, as expected).
-There are a LOT of bees in the pole. At 0730 on an overcast day there was no less than 100 bees coming and going within 3 ft of the opening.
-Very gentle; the thumping with a 2 lb. sledge on the pole trying to identify the cavity elicited no reaction.
-The caller has some contacts with with Puget Power and convinced them to not just kill the bees and they will work with us to salvage the colony, which they said was new for them to do. (nice to see even large quazi-public entities understand the plight of the honey bee, now it's my job to make it the right decision for them).
-The new pole will be installed and power lines moved.
-Puget Power will not cut the pole down to a more manageable size (it's over 50 ft tall and leaning) until I've covered the opening. I plan is to use fly screen for a few hours until they've cut it down to 10 ft or so.
-The pole was treated with creosote up to 2 ft above the ground level. Being an environmental cleanup consultant, I've convinced my analytical lab to give me some charity chemical analysis of the comb and honey for several chemicals of concern (likely in exchange for honey).

Questions:
1)As the base in rotten and I can have a standing 10 ft section, should I leave it standing and try and open it up like a wall to expose the parallel (not ends) of the comb?

2) Or should I try and cut it off at the bottom, lay it down, and split it open (probably parallel to the comb) as I've heard people recommend?

3)Which would you recommend, a chainsaw or Skillsaw to rip open the log? I have skill with both, but if a Skillsaw could be set deep enough to get through the wall into the cavity, my gut says there would be less chance of going too deep and into the colony itself.

4) Any advantage to taking of a thin strip all the way up the length of the cavity to see what you're really up against and then removing successive strips to widen the opening as little as necessary?

5)Any other recommendations would be most welcome (well almost any).

Thanks in Advance,
~Reid

p.s. - Upon arrival to check this colony out that moring I quickly noticed not one, but TWO swarms on shrubs not 20 ft from the pole. Both were not 2 ft off the ground. It doesn't get any easier than that!
One was likely the prime (40K plus) and the other was about 15K. Considering all the bees still coming and going from the pole and how stuffed with bees the opening was, I'm really looking foreward to seeing how big this thing is.
 

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I have had better luck laying it down first. If it is rotten or weakened, it may collapse on itself and make a real mess. The circular saw is a fixed depth, but the chainsaw is quicker so the cut is done before the bees react.
 

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The tree removal I assisted with, we laid the tree down and used a chain saw to open it up along the length. We had already cut it down by sections until we reached the cavity, then we cut a big notch to get at the comb. Plan on hitting the comb at least some with the saw. I think the faster you can get the bees out the better for everyone involved. Get some help if you can.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Chainsaw it is then.
I'm not worried about the pole collapsing as the "rotten" base is somehow holding up the 50 ft of active pole above it. After the power company cuts it down to a 10 ft length there is no way it's going to collapse on me.
Yep, definetely a 2 person job. So far cutout have been much easier with a second person. Espeically that chimney on the steep roof. Again, holy crap!

-Reid
 

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Try to have someone get some pics for sharing, sounds like a tough task. Good luck and work safe !
 

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Use a chain saw and get the cutting done quick. If you're pretty sure the comb only extends to the 6' level I'd leave the pole standing so you disrupt them as little as possible. Definitely screen the opening for the chainsaw surgery! :D
 

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you can slit just through the side into the cavity with the chain saw, then split the "tree" in half useing the chain saw slot to put the wedge in. that way you dont have to roll the pole over.

As with other trees you can trim down the top of the pole till you start to see the cavity so you dont have to rip the entire 10' if the cavity is only 6'.

Whats your preferred method for putting comb in foundation-less frames? rubber bands? string?

and of course take pics... or have someone else take pics :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the input.
Yep, I'll get lots of pictures of this one and post them (or a link). It looks like I'll have at least two other people that want to be involved, so someone will be incharge of pictures and video.

I've have all the splitting mauls and wedges necessary already (I heat primarily with wood), but, though I can easily see why laying down and splitting open a 'tree' might allow for the best access, I'm still on the fence as to the need/appropriateness to drop the pole to do this job.

First off, I can't cut the bottom off without cutting into the full width of the cavity because the cavity goes below the ground surface and is full of dirt (which I don't want to cut into and then incure the cost for a new chain). I could dig out around the pole, but it would need to be pretty deep to do it right.
Second, if I cut it off at the ground surface and sacrifice some of the comb, there is no option for temporary bee containment during the the initial 'chainsaw surgery' as Fish_stix put it.

I'll keep mulling it over. Keep the comments comming.
~Reid
 

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this is like waiting for a movie to come out...I'm surely looking forward to it!
don't make us wait long! a short movie trailer would be nice too. good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Sure.
I should be getting a call this week 24 hrs. before the power company wants to cut the pole about 4 ft above the cavity (for a 10 ft stickup). They need the one (and hopefully only) entrance covered up before they cut the pole the next morning. I plan on using 1/8 inch hardware cloth or fly screen (or both).

As soon as possible after they are done cutting the pole, either the guy who works in the building right next to the pole, my wife, or I will remove the screen and let the colony out. I'm sure they'll be more than "happy" to have us open the door.

I think the schedule opens up a little then and we can schedule the removal. Until then I'm in a holding pattern. Well, sort of. I got a call from another guy yesterday with colony that swarmed into his wall on Friday. If not the pole job, I might do that one this weekend.

These removals are fun, but I'm running out of hardware!

~Reid

p.s. My camera just died and my wife just purchased a really nice one that also takes 1080p video. I'm not sure where I'd post such a high quality video (maybe Youtube?), but it's pretty cool.
 

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I would see if the power company would cut the pole off at ground level and then swing it onto your trailer (providing to have one) then you can do the cut out at your leisure in your yard.

G3
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I would see if the power company would cut the pole off at ground level and then swing it onto your trailer (providing to have one) then you can do the cut out at your leisure in your yard.

G3
Ya, I thought about that, but the cavity extends below ground level. The bottom would be wide open and the power company refuses to cut the pole with the bees having access to the outside world. Thus, cutting it off at the base didn't work for them.

I like free bees, but rending a lift to do it myself cuts into the "free" part of free bees too much for me to stomach.
~Reid
 

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id cover the hole, then have the power company pull the pole partly out of the ground so as to cut it off below the cavity, and place on your trailer.

a pole that size is going to be stuck inthe ground like 6-8'
 

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Discussion Starter #19
id cover the hole, then have the power company pull the pole partly out of the ground so as to cut it off below the cavity, and place on your trailer.

a pole that size is going to be stuck in the ground like 6-8'
Yep, not the easiest thing to muscle around. It's 2 ft in diameter at the base also. It's a big pole.
I still might leave it standing and open it up like a wall. I might even hinge one side of the cut just for fun!
~Reid
 

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"...I'm sure they'll be more than "happy" to have us open the door..."
nope, the ungratefull SOB's wont be the least bit "happy". be prepared.
good luck,mike
 
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