Bee Removal
Techniques
How to relocate honeybees without killing them.
Three types of removals
 Swarm retrieval
 Feral hive cut-out
 Trap out operations
Swarms
 Swarm retrieval is the easiest.
Swarm process
 Bees swarm for reproduction – they split to form
a new hive and fly off with the queen.
 A new queen is t...
Traditional Swarm Catching
 Swarms that are within reach can be shaken or brushed
from the tree branch they are hanging f...
Other methods
 Basically – you just place the box under
the swarm and shake.
 You can also sift through the swarm and
fi...
Tips
 Use a spray bottle of 1:1 sugar water to keep
bees from flying. Spray them and they will
lick and clean themselves ...
Swarm queens
 Queens produced by the swarm process
are normally the strongest and best
queens available.
 They are a com...
“Tanging” down a swarm
 A very old folk tradition says you can
drum rhythmically on a metal pot when
you see a swarm flyi...
Cut-outs
Sometimes bees move into your house and
won’t leave…
Where do they like to live?
 Feral bees will move into any space that
offers protection from the elements and is
near foo...
Any enclosed space will do…
African nesting traits
 These bees nest in closer proximity to
humans and normally prefer a smaller
nesting space.
Exposed hive – usually African
Feral hive arrangement
Comb
Locating bees inside a wall
 If the hive entrance does not give away
the hive location, you must locate them
within the w...
A cut-out in progress
Cut-out Process
 Recon a day or so before-hand to get idea of what is
needed.
 On planned date - set-up equipment.
 Pla...
Tie-in comb to frames
 The removed comb must be secured or tied into
a frame or top-bar.
 These are then placed in an em...
Tying comb for a top bar hive
 Top bar set-ups provide unique challenges
to feral removals.
 Honeycomb is very fragile.
...
Tie-in hanger for top bar hive
But wait – there’s more…
After the all brood comb has been tied or
strapped into frames and placed in new
hive…
 Vacuum t...
Two options at this point
 If you KNOW you have the queen, you
can leave the new hive and brood near
the empty hive cavit...
How do you know you have the
queen?
 You caught her and put her in a cage.
 You visually saw her and sucked her into the...
Cleaning the hive cavity
 All bees MUST be removed so that nothing is
left to restart a viable colony.
 This is especial...
95% complete
Transferring bees to new hive
from bee-vac
 Take new hive box a moderate distance
from old hive.
 Make sure you have bro...
Taking the hive home
 Transport when it is cool or at night.
 Make sure they have adequate ventilation and
are OUT OF TH...
Cut-out safety
 Cut-outs are the most technical and difficult
removals.
 No two are the same – all are unique.
 They ar...
Heat stress
Three types…
 Heat cramps – cramping due to excessive
loss of salt.
 Heat exhaustion – shock brought on by
h...
Vicious bees
 Some feral bees are very defensive.
 Ensure your suit is totally sealed, and all cuffs
are taped or bungie...
Use soapy water to destroy vicious
bees
If we cannot save
them and they
present a public
safety hazard due
to proximity to...
Trap-outs
Why do we trap-out?
 Sometimes a hive cannot be accessed for
removal or the owner does not want the
structure damaged.
 ...
Trap-out process
 The feral hive is scouted to locate entrances.
 All entrances are sealed except for one.
 A small wir...
Trap out in progress
Complications
 Trap-outs are not difficult, but suffer a high
failure rate.
 Often two brood cycles are not enough and t...
Hogan style swarm trap
 These are very useful and can be left in
place long term to make hive starts.
Hogan trap inner workings…
 The trap has an integrated wire cone and a trap door above
it.
 Place the trap on the feral ...
Safety hazards
 Trap-outs usually involve even more
difficult to access locations than cut-outs.
 You will be manipulati...
Abandoned Hives
Neglected hives…
 While not usually considered type of
removal, you will eventually be called to
remove an abandoned or n...
Problems specific to abandoned
hives
Things to watch out for.
 Rotten bottom boards or top covers.
 Hive loaded with 20 years or more of
propolis.
 Frames u...
Defensive bees in abandoned
hives
 Many abandoned hives have been there
for many, many years.
 The bees have an establis...
Heavily propolized hive.
Disease
 If while examining an abandoned hive, you
suspect signs of disease, remove the bees
and burn the hive and frames...
Summary
 Catching swarms, cutting out, and trapping hives
can be fun and exciting – though it is also
difficult and dange...
Thank you!
 You can contact me at
honeybees@lus.com
 Paul McCarty – Black Mesa Honeybees
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Bee Removal

  1. 1. Bee Removal Techniques How to relocate honeybees without killing them.
  2. 2. Three types of removals  Swarm retrieval  Feral hive cut-out  Trap out operations
  3. 3. Swarms  Swarm retrieval is the easiest.
  4. 4. Swarm process  Bees swarm for reproduction – they split to form a new hive and fly off with the queen.  A new queen is then grown by the remaining bees.  Before the swarm flies away, they gorge on honey.  Since they are full of honey, and have no hive to defend, they are normally very docile.  They will land on a branch or object near the old hive and wait for the scouts to find them a new home.  They could be there for a few minutes or a few days. It is very random.
  5. 5. Traditional Swarm Catching  Swarms that are within reach can be shaken or brushed from the tree branch they are hanging from into a box, hive or other closed container.  Sometimes these swarms are too high to reach.  The branch they are resting on can also be cut so they can be gently lowered to the ground and placed in a hive or box.  In the past, burlap bags were used to catch bee swarms.
  6. 6. Other methods  Basically – you just place the box under the swarm and shake.  You can also sift through the swarm and find the queen – cage her – and place her in your hive. In short order, the bees will swarm around her in the hive.
  7. 7. Tips  Use a spray bottle of 1:1 sugar water to keep bees from flying. Spray them and they will lick and clean themselves instead of flying around.  Place a tarp or plastic sheet under the swarm to catch fallen bees and to help them crawl into the box or hive.  Place a frame of brood in the hive you place them in to keep them anchored and prevent them from absconding.  If you have no brood, you can keep them sealed up for a few days.
  8. 8. Swarm queens  Queens produced by the swarm process are normally the strongest and best queens available.  They are a comb building factory – ready to go!  Swarms are highly sought after for this reason.  Put swarm in hive box and feed, feed, feed!
  9. 9. “Tanging” down a swarm  A very old folk tradition says you can drum rhythmically on a metal pot when you see a swarm flying by to cause them to land so you can catch them.  The truth of this folk tale is that the beekeepers of old would beat a pot or pan or ring a bell to claim the swarm as their own – so no other beekeeper would catch them.  Many claim success – who knows?
  10. 10. Cut-outs Sometimes bees move into your house and won’t leave…
  11. 11. Where do they like to live?  Feral bees will move into any space that offers protection from the elements and is near food and water.  European honeybees prefer a larger nest area, such as a tree trunk or wall cavity.  Some bees with African traits nest in smaller hive spaces – such as water meters, buckets, tires, and even in the open air.
  12. 12. Any enclosed space will do…
  13. 13. African nesting traits  These bees nest in closer proximity to humans and normally prefer a smaller nesting space.
  14. 14. Exposed hive – usually African
  15. 15. Feral hive arrangement
  16. 16. Comb
  17. 17. Locating bees inside a wall  If the hive entrance does not give away the hive location, you must locate them within the wall.  Bees can be located by sound, feeling for warmth, or vibration.  Placing your ear to the wall or using a stethoscope works very well.  You may have to have a helper smoke them a little at the entrance to get them to buzz.
  18. 18. A cut-out in progress
  19. 19. Cut-out Process  Recon a day or so before-hand to get idea of what is needed.  On planned date - set-up equipment.  Place tarps or sheets on floor to catch spilled honey and debris.  Locate access point and remove structure to access hive.  Vacuum excess bees until comb can be manipulated.  Cut comb – vacuum bees off comb.  Trim comb and rubber band or tie into place in empty frames.  Place comb into new hive.  Repeat until no brood comb remains.  Honey comb can be pulled out and dropped into bucket or ice chest. Too hard to put into frame - not worth it – easier to feed back.
  20. 20. Tie-in comb to frames  The removed comb must be secured or tied into a frame or top-bar.  These are then placed in an empty hive box in roughly the same direction they were removed.
  21. 21. Tying comb for a top bar hive  Top bar set-ups provide unique challenges to feral removals.  Honeycomb is very fragile.  There is no easy way to tie cut comb to top bars. Rubber bands usually tear up the removed comb.  A strip of hardware cloth can be attached to a top bar and formed into a set of hooks to hold removed comb. Works very well.
  22. 22. Tie-in hanger for top bar hive
  23. 23. But wait – there’s more… After the all brood comb has been tied or strapped into frames and placed in new hive…  Vacuum the remaining bees until none remain in hive cavity. Pay close attention for masses of bees, or spots where the queen may be hiding.
  24. 24. Two options at this point  If you KNOW you have the queen, you can leave the new hive and brood near the empty hive cavity overnight to catch stragglers – after dumping the bees in from the vacuum.  If you do not have the queen or could not locate her, take the new hive and brood to their new location and return in the morning or later at night to vacuum stragglers and look for the queen.
  25. 25. How do you know you have the queen?  You caught her and put her in a cage.  You visually saw her and sucked her into the vac.  You see bees trying to get into the vac through screened vent holes.  Displaced bees will sit and fan when they located their queen to draw others to her.  Watch for fanning behavior.  Displaced bees will also make a “swarm” or cluster on the queen. Watch for these clusters.  Often the queen will run and you will see a small cluster of bees 10 feet or so from the old hive that has the queen in it. Keep alert for this!
  26. 26. Cleaning the hive cavity  All bees MUST be removed so that nothing is left to restart a viable colony.  This is especially important if you fail to locate the queen.  The hive cavity must have all the comb scraped out and washed with soap and water to remove the hive smell.  Seal the old entrance with latex caulk or screen wire.  If you have it, a little Bee-Go or Honey Robber placed in the old hive cavity will keep them out for quite a while. (DON”T USE MUCH!)
  27. 27. 95% complete
  28. 28. Transferring bees to new hive from bee-vac  Take new hive box a moderate distance from old hive.  Make sure you have brood comb or the queen in the new hive box.  They can be dumped in similar to package bees.  If you have no brood or queen, or are too close to the old hive – they will fly back and you will have to vacuum them again.
  29. 29. Taking the hive home  Transport when it is cool or at night.  Make sure they have adequate ventilation and are OUT OF THE SUN AND NOT IN AN ENCLOSED HOT ENVIRONMENT.  If the bees are still in the vac this is especially important.  Place the hive in its new location and feed back the removed honeycomb by placing it on the inner cover and using an empty super for space.  Watch the bees for signs of negative traits or excess defensiveness requiring re-queening.  Watch for queen cells or signs of a queen if unsure whether she was captured.
  30. 30. Cut-out safety  Cut-outs are the most technical and difficult removals.  No two are the same – all are unique.  They are all hot and dirty work.  Many cut-outs involve work on ladders or scaffolding.  Always have the ladder anchored or footed properly and pay close attention to electrical wires.  When cutting into walls – watch for electrical wiring and gas lines.  Have water available for drinking – watch for heat stress.  Always wear PPE!  SAFETY FIRST!  Free bees are not worth your life.
  31. 31. Heat stress Three types…  Heat cramps – cramping due to excessive loss of salt.  Heat exhaustion – shock brought on by heat – excessive sweating, pale cold clammy skin, nausea, etc.  Heat stroke – No sweating, bright red appearance, may be unconscious – DIRE EMERGENCY – SEEK HELP ASAP!
  32. 32. Vicious bees  Some feral bees are very defensive.  Ensure your suit is totally sealed, and all cuffs are taped or bungied where crawling bees cannot enter the sleeves or pant-legs.  If the bees are unworkable aggressive, you may have to work at night with a red colored lamp. Bees cannot see red and will not fly at night – but they will crawl!  Do not feel bad to destroy a highly defensive hive. These bees can become a public safety hazard if they are in close proximity to humans.  If this is the case, do not worry about strapping comb to frames or vacuuming bees.
  33. 33. Use soapy water to destroy vicious bees If we cannot save them and they present a public safety hazard due to proximity to humans – we are obligated to take action. Do not use poisons, as they will creep into other wild hives as the removed hive is robbed out by the locals. The surrounding feral hives will thus be poisoned too.
  34. 34. Trap-outs
  35. 35. Why do we trap-out?  Sometimes a hive cannot be accessed for removal or the owner does not want the structure damaged.  A trap out is needed in this case or full extermination will have to take place.
  36. 36. Trap-out process  The feral hive is scouted to locate entrances.  All entrances are sealed except for one.  A small wire cone (6mm) is placed on the hive entrance.  A hive containing a frame or two of brood and adhering bees is placed within a foot of the feral hive entrance.  The feral bees will be able to exit but not return and will move into the new hive.  The trap out must be left in place for at least two brood cycles to be effective (at least 6-9 weeks).  They will grow a new queen from the brood given.  A caged queen can also be given and later released, but requires more work for the beekeeper.
  37. 37. Trap out in progress
  38. 38. Complications  Trap-outs are not difficult, but suffer a high failure rate.  Often two brood cycles are not enough and they must be left in place for a very long time.  The trap hive may need to be supered for the honey coming in.  This causes more work and expense for the beekeeper.  Many times, all the entrances cannot be found and sealed making the trap-out impossible.  Sometimes the trapped bees simply abscond with their new queen and cause the process to take even longer.
  39. 39. Hogan style swarm trap  These are very useful and can be left in place long term to make hive starts.
  40. 40. Hogan trap inner workings…  The trap has an integrated wire cone and a trap door above it.  Place the trap on the feral hive entrance with the trap door opened.  Place brood in the hive.  When the bees get used to it they will use it as another brood chamber.  You can use it like this for a very long period to periodically harvest hive starts.  If it is wished to totally trap out the hive, the trap door is closed forcing the bees to use the wire cone and it becomes a standard trap-out operation. This is my preferred method and I have my own enlarged and modified version of the Hogan Swarm Trap.
  41. 41. Safety hazards  Trap-outs usually involve even more difficult to access locations than cut-outs.  You will be manipulating 100lb hives on ladders and platforms.  Ladder safety is even more critical doing trap-out operations.
  42. 42. Abandoned Hives
  43. 43. Neglected hives…  While not usually considered type of removal, you will eventually be called to remove an abandoned or neglected hive.  Normally, the removal process is fairly easy – after sunset, seal all holes and entrances with wire mesh, then move like you would a standard hive.
  44. 44. Problems specific to abandoned hives
  45. 45. Things to watch out for.  Rotten bottom boards or top covers.  Hive loaded with 20 years or more of propolis.  Frames unable to be removed without breaking them.  Possible disease (though unlikely if hive has been there for many, many years).
  46. 46. Defensive bees in abandoned hives  Many abandoned hives have been there for many, many years.  The bees have an established hive and will defend it vigorously in most cases.  Prying out heavily propolized frames does not make bees happy!  In my experience, bees will be more aggressive when removing an abandoned hive that when performing a cut-out.
  47. 47. Heavily propolized hive.
  48. 48. Disease  If while examining an abandoned hive, you suspect signs of disease, remove the bees and burn the hive and frames.  If you cannot get them out, you may have to perform a trap-out or connect the hive entrance to a new hive box via a makeshift tunnel and flush them with Bee-Go.  Use wire screen, wrapped in landscaping fabric, to make the tunnel.  Do not introduce a diseased hive to your yards.
  49. 49. Summary  Catching swarms, cutting out, and trapping hives can be fun and exciting – though it is also difficult and dangerous.  All can be performed safely if proper precautions are taken.  The bees can have a new home and the transition for them will be much easier if done properly.  All beekeepers should understand the basics of catching swarms.  Cut-outs and trap-outs are more specialized, but all beekeepers should understand the basic fundamentals.
  50. 50. Thank you!  You can contact me at honeybees@lus.com  Paul McCarty – Black Mesa Honeybees
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