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Well, this guy calls me and asks me how to get the bees out of his water heater. I offer a couple of trap-out ideas.

He has no clue of what I'm talking about. I ask some more questions and he says the bees have been living in this water heater for 4 years. He set out plywood boxes to try and "lure" them out of the water heater.

No luck.

So after several more ideas (and I still don't know what he really means) he says, "Why don't you just come and get them?"

He had an old water heater, leaning up against a tree. I smoked them at dusk and lifted the water heater onto my pick-up. After coming home, I set it up just like it was at his place.

So what are my options? At the present time I plan to leave the bees to fend for themselves as best they can and allow them to continue to live in this old water heater.

Grant
Jackson, MO

http://i954.photobucket.com/albums/ae26/revgrant1/waterheater2.jpg
http://i954.photobucket.com/albums/ae26/revgrant1/Waterheater.jpg
http://i954.photobucket.com/albums/ae26/revgrant1/waterheater4-1.jpg
http://i954.photobucket.com/albums/ae26/revgrant1/waterheater3.jpg
 

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WOW that thing must be packed solid with comb and bees.

Be sure they are in the shade or they just might have a melt down.

Only thing I would know to say is take a saws all or band saw to the end of the tank.

Let us know how you make out with it.
 

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Looks like the mother load. Looks like a sawzall job to me, going to take some time to get it split open, how ever you decide to attack it i would plan on spending the day on it, going to be tough.
 

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I like the angle grinder idea better too, thought about a torch but too much internal damage and heat. Any way you go their going to be fired up.
 

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Hot water heaters are a tank inside of a tank. That looks like a really old one. The new heaters have a sheet metal skin and insulation over them. That looks like a welded outer tank.

Is it a galvanized tank? If so, be careful torching because of fumes.

If it was me, I would probably leave them like they are, but if I really wanted to remove them, I would borrow a plasma cutter, smoke the bees away from the end I was cutting on, and cut off the ends of the tank at the weld seams. Once you have the ends cut off, you should be able to see enough of the internals to make a decision.

A sawsall will take too long, and the vibrations will likely drive the bees nuts. A torch or a grinder will put tons of heat in the area. A plasma cutter won't get near as hot, and they cut super quick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
At the moment, I'm content to just leave them be. They survived for four seasons without interferance, they'll probably continue. They were in deep shade and I placed them in deep shade. I tried to set them up at the same angle as the original situation.

I'm very sure since these pictures were taken that they have swarmed and I've place several swarm traps around the area that remain vacant.

If nothing else, they contribute drones to my virgin queens and maybe I'll get lucky and trap a swarm next year.

As an alternative, I have considered moving the water heater about ten feet away and setting up another weak hive in that place to be strengthened by the returning field bees.

Grant
Jackson, MO
 

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I have tried to remove bees from a water heater and had very poor results. There is a MAJOR pipe that runs from the top to the bottom. You will have to cut it top and bottom as it is attached to both ends.

I would think this would be a possible trial for the Hogan Bee Trap (referenced here:

http://www.thebeeyard.org/?cat=4

and available from Brushy Mountain or Mann Lake. You would have to close up the top, perhaps with a net or tarp and then use the bottom entrance to trap from. I have not tried this trap but am kinda intested in using one. The shipping is almost as much as the trap, though. Does anyone have DIY plans?

Or, you could move the hive from spot to spot and use it to build up small hives that you put in its place like you just mentioned. That's just a lot of work.

Fuzzybeekeeper
 

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Plasma would slice tight through it with ease, but with all of the smoke from the galvanizing it would most likely kill or at least make most of the bees sick, and if you breathe too much of it you will be sick as a dog...............drinking milk will help some.
You should wear a respirator if using a torch or plasma!

Good candidate for a trap out and then the saws all.
 

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Lots of luck getting supers to stay on that thing! :D

On the serious side, if you have a small angle grinder (4 or 4 1/2") get some cutoff wheels for ferrous metal and cut an end off to see the inside. Then decide where to go from there. You may be able to cut both ends off, then use a "custom made" fume board and drive them out the bottom into a waiting box or two. If you get them out then cover the ends with garbage bags and get the tank out of there.
 

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200 years ago, didn't they use to hit/shake a skep for 20 minutes to induce a swarm to remove the bees to gain access to the honey?

Could this be an option here and take your chances on catching the swarm?
 

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You could trap out for a week or two and make a new hive and then remove the trap and let the hot water heater build back up and then trap out again and then do it again making sure to leave them plenty of time in between trap outs to build back up. Make lots of colonies! :D Never done this before but think it would be pretty cool!

-Dan
 

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It would be like the easiest trap out ever. Just leave it alone until you want the bees to boost another hive. Or you could trap them out for the purpose of making the honey available to your other hives to build up stores for winter.

Either way would be way less work than trying to cut it open while it's full of bees.
 

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i second the recomendation for the "cleo hogan bee trap" or "swarm harvester" (as sold by kellys). please dont cut or grind into this galvanized tank. do a search (google) for "galvanic poisoning". ugly stuff.
good luck,mike
 

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Do you want some advise from some one that has done this kind of work his whole life. Metal work, not bees. First of all, NO fire which means no torch, plasma torch, or grinder they all make fire. The old water heater is a tank inside the sheet metal cover. There is no tube/pipes attached to both ends. At least not in the 20-30 that I've cut apart (to make cattle water tanks). the tube does run to the bottom for water entry/exit, but not attached. Having said all that, First learn whether or not they are all in the tank itself or also inside the cover. Hopefully they are in the tank. If there is comb under the cover you may have to sacrifice them for the ones in the tank which is where probably most are.

First thing smoke as many of them back in the tank as you can. Plug all the holes. Pipe fittings would work best, but just get them well plugged. I would start on the bottom of the tank because the top does have the pipe extending from it. Most are now plastic and removable. You may need to use a long blade on a reciprocating saw to get your cut started. If none is available you could use a small drill bit, drilling connecting holes to get a shorter bit started. At very worst you could use a die grinder or an angle grinder to get your blade thru. Don't make your hole big enough for the bees to escape!! I would then cut almost all the way around tank, leaving just enough to hold it together. You will need more than 1 metal cutting blade. A little cutting oil, used sparingly will help tremendously with blade life and shouldn't hurt the bees much. I would then give them a while to settle down some. Then smoke the dickens on the crack you cut before opening it up. You should have a vac set up and ready. From the looks of the numbers in the pictures you will need a big one. If none of this is acheivable, I would suggest you call Kelley Co. and order the swarm trap that they have available. It does work. Mr Cleo Hogan has proven it time and again.
Very best of luck in your endeavor!!
 

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Great dialog here. Lots of opinions for a cut out or trap out.

Given the fact that the owner said he was in no hurry. Also, considering the effort it would take to cut that thing open......

I would do a trap out.

I would make a simple wooden stand to get it up off the ground. Something that looks like a sawbuck rack used in wood cutting. Do you know what that is?

Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawbuck

Then seal all entrances with screen except one and file all exiting bees through the screen cone and into the new hive.

Follow the standard trap out instructions and in 6 to 8 weeks you can let the new hive rob out anything that remains in the water heater. The job will be accomplished before the cold weather sets in and you can feed the hive anything extra they need in the fall to set them up for winter.
 

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I bet the scrap yard would love dealing with this. :D

If it is a gas HW heater, which it does appear to be, the pipe connected to the top and bottom would be a vent pipe which is surrounded by water to reduce the exhaust gas temperature and increase water temperature. A simple inspection and you will know.

Which direction do you think the comb is constructed in that tank?
 

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stiky, u r right I went back and looked at the pictures and it is a gas water heater. It will have a vent tube running all the way thru and attached. I didn't look close enough before giving detailed directions. So scrap those directions.
I stand by my 2nd recommendation, which is to buy the swarm harvestor from Walter t Kelley Co. It will and does work. i think it is $65.00. As many bees as are, from apperance, in this thing he will be busy buying queens & and setting up new hives. I know he will have to feed because it is late in the year. Wish I had it. This is exactly what I would do.

www.kelleybees.com

So much to learn, so little time.
 
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