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Author Topic: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall  (Read 1859 times)

Offline Occam

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Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« on: February 16, 2023, 01:47:07 am »
Hive removal doesn't always go the way we would like it to. When you've been working in the heat for hours, you're exhausted, probably somewhat dehydrated, and running out of light sometimes your judgement fails you. Mistakes sometimes compound and if you avoid catastrophe (depending on perspective), physical harm, and are able to walk away with your tail between your legs, sometimes that's the best we get. Especially as a novice beekeeper.

I try to educate myself as much as possible before a new venture but nothing can substitute experience and life knowledge. I try to prepare for eventualities, the unexpected, and otherwise prevent Mr. Murphy from besting me. Most of the time I succeed. This is a story of my ignorance, lack of experience, and Murphy slapping me upside the back of the head teaching me.

I've never been the type of person to shy away from a challenge. More often than not I've succeeded in whatever crazy venture I set out to do. So when I had researched a lot and been beekeeping for a few months I wasn't afraid of trying challenging things. Like a hive removal from a tree.

Some friends knew I'd started beekeeping and had an acquaintance mention wanting to remove bees from a tree at a rental house they were fixing up. Given my name they contacted me, I went over to look at it, and thought to myself "Sure, I'll get it done. How hard could it be right?" Since I didn't have any experience I asked them just pay me $50 to cover my fuel and a few odds and ends, a free hive of bees was payment enough. Deal struck.

I loaded up my gear, dropped the kids off with the grandparents, took my wife (we all need witnesses of our genius afterall), and after church soon thereafter on a toasty August afternoon. I'd even built myself a nice beevac. I didn't bring a suit, who needs it?

The tree was an older maple tree, plenty of scaly bark with lots of texture. The hive entrance 9' up at the location of a knothole from a limb that had disappeared sometime in the last century. There was some concern about another area about 10 feet higher where another limb had broken off, maybe another entrance. I set up my ladder, made the climb and it was clear, no entrance.

I wanted to determine the approximate size of the cavity the hive was in so I drilled a sequence of a couple holes spaced about 12 inches above the knothole. 12" up hollow with comb, 24" up solid wood. Good start.

Repeated the sequence below the knothole finding solid wood approximately 30" down. The wood was solid for 6-8" at each hole before reaching the cavity. I never tried it from the other side of the tree nor did I try to drill all the way through.

Vacuum set up? Check
Ladder in place? Check
Smoker lit? Shoot. Light smoker...
Wife ready to document amazing events of the day? Check and double check

I started by stuffing some cardboard in the drilled holes leaving the bottom one open. We don't want bees pouring out on us when we start smoking do we? Vacuum running I began smoking into the bottom hole until I had bees running out of the entrance and puffs of smoke floating out. Set the smoker down, vacuum bees. Smoke and vacuum, smoke and vacuum. There was no end of the bees they kept coming and coming. Foragers were also returning only to be vacuumed up with their sisters.

The afternoon wore on, ears full of the whine of the vacuum. Wife was no longer so enthusiastic to have accompanied me (have I mentioned it was August and there was not much shade from the afternoon sun?). Sweat running down my back, I wondered "why did I wear cowboy boots with no support instead of my good work boots?"

I smoked and vacuumed while watching for the queen to come dancing out the entrance. She declined to make an appearance. Or perhaps I had missed seeing her and vacuumed her up I thought to myself. I'd been at it for about 5 hours nowand the sun was getting low. Looking down I notice a cloud of bees around the exhaust of my vacuum, good sign I think. But I'm not convinced, I'd been watching very closely this whole time with a queen clip handy.

With dark fast approaching it was time to call it a day. But I was pretty sure I didn't have the queen. Not good. This is where it all starts falling apart. I decide I didn't have her in my box and I'm convinced I didn't have her to this day, I'm positive she never came out. But what do I do now? I had a hive with eggs and brood at home I could give them and seal up the tree. It wasn't an appealing thought so I did what any inexperienced, exhausted, dehydrated person would do. Build a trapout screen and strap the bee box from the vacuum to the tree and come back tomorrow to finish. This seemed reasonable at the time. With box securely hung, trapout cone set and stapled to the tree I open the vacuum port knowing the bees would come out and come out they did.

Monday afternoon I go back with my gear to finish what I started (good work boots on today) and find that in my exhaustion I had built a very poor trapout cone that wouldn't stop any bees at all. Bees were running around, though, and under so many gaps in my cone it might as well have not been there. Remember how i said the bark had lots of texture? Inside my shoulders slumped, outside in pretty sure they slumped as well. Inside i screamed, I'm pretty sure i didn't scream on the outside though. Time to start over I think. This time I'd decided that I would get a many bees as possible by dark then seal up the tree. Plan firmly in mind I set about it.

Again the queen refused to make an appearance. I think she felt I was being rude or maybe I'm just not her type. Regardless no queen again. Time to pack up. This time I pack everything up taking a very full box of bees with me. Taking with me also the sense of regret that I was dealing up a tree with bees inside that were going to die and the sense that I'd failed to help save them.

To make matters worse I get home well after dark, again exhausted from my efforts. I place my box of loudly buzzing bees in a stand and make the worst decision I could. It's August, they have no comb, no water, they're not happy. My other hive 10 feet away is quietly minding their own business. I don't want to disturb them but I need a couple frames of resources and brood for the newcomers. I decide to wait till morning to not inside on my established hive, nor did I want to face their wrath for opening their hive at night.

I said before I was concerned about the new bees not having water. I didn't want them overheating. So I open the vacuum port and tell the bees I'll be back in the morning. I was true to my word, I was there the following morning. They however had decided not to wait for me and had left other than a few stragglers buzzing or walking around. My first removal had ended in failure, I had killed a colony while trying to save it. With the best of intentions, an optimistic outlook, and with ignorance tempered with inexperience I had failed the bees.

No I didn't fall off the ladder in the processs. My pride however took a good tumble down a long flight of stairs. I'm writing all this for myself as well as for anyone else that can learn from my mistakes. If you've read this long hopefully you've been extremely patient and I thank you.

Aaron

I'll be adding some pictures of the event soon also once I can upload them







« Last Edit: February 16, 2023, 03:15:18 pm by Occam »
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2023, 02:04:02 am »
Aaron thank you for posting this. I enjoyed your story very much. It my opinion your post was as well written as could have been by any of our famous authors from Oxford and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), in my home State of Mississippi. Adding: That is some pretty good company in my opinion. smile.
We all lean from our mistakes. No doubt, this particular experience will never happen to you again. Hang in there and keep up the good work!

Phillip



Jeremiah 5:21 King James Version 
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Offline BeeMaster2

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2023, 06:48:52 am »
Arron,
Great story.
I don?t know if you realized it but you can?t smoke bees off of a hive with brood. You can get a lot of field bees out but the nurse bees will stay and keep trying to fan and protect the young. The queen will also stay. If you can?t cut the hive open, you will have to do a Trapout.
You might bee able to cause the bees to swarm by covering the entrance with a net and beating on the tree real hard for about 10 minutes. Not sure if it will work on tree hives, old timers did it on skeps. You will only get half of the bees if it works but you will get the queen.
Good luck with your next adventure.
Jim Altmiller
Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.
Ben Franklin

Offline Occam

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2023, 10:14:32 am »
Thank you for your kind words Phillip, I appreciate it. Yes we definitely live and learn and we move into the future armed with our knowledge and experience, and if we lean on that then yes, we can avoid making the same mistakes.

Thank you as well Jim. I didn't know you couldn't smoke them off at the time but I learned. Interesting idea about the net and drumming. With any luck it may work.
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2023, 10:34:37 am »
Quote
You might bee able to cause the bees to swarm by covering the entrance with a net and beating on the tree real hard for about 10 minutes. Not sure if it will work on tree hives, old timers did it on skeps. You will only get half of the bees if it works but you will get the queen.

I did not know about this method either Jim. A couple yeas ago I received a call from some folks who had a swarm move into a column of their home. The bees had been there just long enough to set up house keeping. I could not smoke the queen out either, even though comb and eggs was a minimum. I am now wondering if I could have coaxed her out by the 10 minute 'beat the column method'. 😊  It would have been easier than disecting the column. Plus the incoming forgers could have been gathered with my shop vac as they tried to enter in the blocked hole of entry as the 10 minute exercise was in progress.
Thanks for posting this Jim. "thumbs up"

Phillip
Jeremiah 5:21 King James Version 
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Offline Occam

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2023, 03:17:11 pm »
Some additional pictures







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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2023, 07:06:32 am »
It's been 20 years since I used a bee vac.  Last time I did a lot of bees overheated and died.
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

Offline Occam

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2023, 08:22:21 am »
That had ro be heartbreaking! I know that's a real possibility but thankfully it wasn't my experience. I was concerned about that happening, especially with ot being August, so I kept the vac in the shade. The bee chamber of the vac is also just a standard langstroth box and I had frames for them to be able to climb on so they wouldn't be piled on each other. I don't know if it was that or the grace of God but thankfully I only had 15 or 20 bees I found in the box when it was all said and done. That's one reason I built mine the way I did instead of with buckets like some I'd seen.
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2023, 09:31:33 am »
Aaron, my home built vac doesn't have frames but is made in a way as not to overheat the bees as well. One of our members here at Beemaster designed a vac which is quiet famous. Robo invented the Robo Vac. Your home built vac sounds like it might have been built on that basic design as his also has frames as you described. I haven't used his vac but it comes highly recommended by 'many' on YouTube, including "Mr ED" of 'Jeff Horchoff Bees'.

Phillip
Jeremiah 5:21 King James Version 
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Offline Occam

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2023, 10:07:34 am »
Quite possibly. I watched a lot of videos on bee vacs before I built mine. I weighed a lot of options and considered building a less involved one but I prefer to build something once and do minor tweaks rather than start over if it doesn't last. I also prefer working with wood rather than plastic so a hive body type vac seemed better than bucket style ones fo my personal use. I definitely watched Mr Ed's video on his bee vac as well as one on Frederick Dunn's channel where he reviewed one that's quite similar. I do seem to recall seeing videos of a Robo Vac as well, I'm glad to know the origin of the design. I don't think I have any pictures of the process but maybe at some point I'll post some pics of my vac if anyone's interested.
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2023, 10:57:58 am »
Quite possibly. I watched a lot of videos on bee vacs before I built mine. I weighed a lot of options and considered building a less involved one but I prefer to build something once and do minor tweaks rather than start over if it doesn't last. I also prefer working with wood rather than plastic so a hive body type vac seemed better than bucket style ones fo my personal use. I definitely watched Mr Ed's video on his bee vac as well as one on Frederick Dunn's channel where he reviewed one that's quite similar. I do seem to recall seeing videos of a Robo Vac as well, I'm glad to know the origin of the design. I don't think I have any pictures of the process but maybe at some point I'll post some pics of my vac if anyone's interested.

Since your topic ties in directly with the use of a bee vac, I think you might enjoy an excellent topic started by 2Sox where 2Sox, Acebird, Beemaster2, and myself had a nice discussion concerning bee vacs in depth.  Van from Arkansas along with The15thMember and some more also chimed in somewhere on the topic. In fact Acebird later started a new topic where that one left off, dedicating the new topic to the same subject of bee vacs.

I have found each topic that I had in mind. Each topic has about 4 pages of post. As a treat Robo himself chimed in on the second topic started by Acebird.

This first excellent topic I am reflecting back on, is by 2Sox. Here he discusses a trap out. The relation of the bee vacs evolved as the conversation progressed. The bee vac part starts around post 21
https://beemaster.com/forum/index.php?topic=54507.msg495626#msg495626

Here Acebird started another good and interesting topic dedicated to bee vacs. Acebird has a gifted way of making one 'think' and to his credit by doing so 'made the topic' an excellent topic. In this topic we were treated with the privilege of having Robo himself chime in. It is my opinion that the views posted by 'each' member should be of help to anyone who might be interested in relation to your 'topic subject', by pointing out the advantages of using a bee vac as an aid in such circumstances. I hope you enjoy each topic. While for me, it brings back good memories of friends discussing the use of bee vacs...
https://beemaster.com/forum/index.php?topic=54531.msg496015#msg496015

Phillip
Jeremiah 5:21 King James Version 
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2023, 11:41:59 am »
I've made two or three of them.  Always adjustable on the suction.  I've bought a couple as well.  I just don't see the point.  I can get them to move into my box without them.
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

Offline Occam

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2023, 11:55:35 am »
I've made two or three of them.  Always adjustable on the suction.  I've bought a couple as well.  I just don't see the point.  I can get them to move into my box without them.

That's awesome and much gentler way of beeing. I hope to one day achieve that level of mastery. If I was a single guy with the time for your internship or even bee camp I'd love to study under your wisdom. Maybe i can arrange things for bee camp one day soon
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Offline Occam

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2023, 11:57:12 am »
Quite possibly. I watched a lot of videos on bee vacs before I built mine. I weighed a lot of options and considered building a less involved one but I prefer to build something once and do minor tweaks rather than start over if it doesn't last. I also prefer working with wood rather than plastic so a hive body type vac seemed better than bucket style ones fo my personal use. I definitely watched Mr Ed's video on his bee vac as well as one on Frederick Dunn's channel where he reviewed one that's quite similar. I do seem to recall seeing videos of a Robo Vac as well, I'm glad to know the origin of the design. I don't think I have any pictures of the process but maybe at some point I'll post some pics of my vac if anyone's interested.

There's so much good reading and discussion here, so much condensed knowledge and experience in the community.  Thanks for the links!

Since your topic ties in directly with the use of a bee vac, I think you might enjoy an excellent topic started by 2Sox where 2Sox, Acebird, Beemaster2, and myself had a nice discussion concerning bee vacs in depth.  Van from Arkansas along with The15thMember and some more also chimed in somewhere on the topic. In fact Acebird later started a new topic where that one left off, dedicating the new topic to the same subject of bee vacs.

I have found each topic that I had in mind. Each topic has about 4 pages of post. As a treat Robo himself chimed in on the second topic started by Acebird.

This first excellent topic I am reflecting back on, is by 2Sox. Here he discusses a trap out. The relation of the bee vacs evolved as the conversation progressed. The bee vac part starts around post 21
https://beemaster.com/forum/index.php?topic=54507.msg495626#msg495626

Here Acebird started another good and interesting topic dedicated to bee vacs. Acebird has a gifted way of making one 'think' and to his credit by doing so 'made the topic' an excellent topic. In this topic we were treated with the privilege of having Robo himself chime in. It is my opinion that the views posted by 'each' member should be of help to anyone who might be interested in relation to your 'topic subject', by pointing out the advantages of using a bee vac as an aid in such circumstances. I hope you enjoy each topic. While for me, it brings back good memories of friends discussing the use of bee vacs...
https://beemaster.com/forum/index.php?topic=54531.msg496015#msg496015

Phillip
Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2023, 12:14:51 pm »
I've made two or three of them.  Always adjustable on the suction.  I've bought a couple as well.  I just don't see the point.  I can get them to move into my box without them.

Im not trying to change your mind Michael. You are a bee expert and a beekeeping legend, which I have great respect for your honeybee knowledge and skills. I suppose as in other areas of beekeeping, it can also be said in this case as well; the use of a beevac is a personal preference or choice. Personally, I see the Beevac as the most handiest tool I enjoy. 😊

Phillip
« Last Edit: February 17, 2023, 11:52:20 pm by Ben Framed »
Jeremiah 5:21 King James Version 
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2023, 12:23:56 pm »
You need QMP either in the form of Psuedo Queen or alcohol from a jar of retired queens.  You also need lemongrass oil (or Swarm Commander).  These are the smells that bees organize around.  If I'm doing a cutout I put some of both in the box I'm trying to get them to move into.  Of course finding the queen and caging here is the sure thing.  But if the box smells like Nasonov (Lemongrass oil) and queen (QMP) the bees tend to settle in the box.  If you keep brushing any bees you need to get off of combs into the box and the smells anchor them there (also some open brood there helps a lot) then the bees settle in the box.  It's kind of like the difference between forcing a horse to get into the trailer and letting the horse decide to get on the trailer.
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Pride comes before... well at least I didn't fall
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2023, 12:25:52 pm »
Quote
There's so much good reading and discussion here, so much condensed knowledge and experience in the community.  Thanks for the links!

I agree Arron, your words are exactly why I joined Beemaster. The kind folks here are always eager to help with friendly conversation and opinion; and sometimes healthy debate.   
:grin:

Phillip
Jeremiah 5:21 King James Version 
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.