Chimney Bees

Discussion in 'Swarms, Cut outs, and Trap outs' started by marksmith, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. marksmith

    marksmith New Member

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    My folks have a chimney that they have despirately wanted to use for the last 3 years... but its occupied at the moment by a very healthy amount of bees.

    When you look into the top of the chimney it is wall to wall comb and I have no clue how far down the chimney it actually goes.

    I want to remove these bees and put them in 'conventional' boxes. I think 2 large brood boxes with a western honey super on top would be sufficient to start with (knowing I will have to expand honey storage quite a bit in the coming months) The ultimate goal here is to relocate the bees to a conventional hive so they can bee monitored and kept healthy. There is an abundance of fruit trees and grapes in the vacinity so they are very much so needed to do their jobs.

    The problem is:
    1. Its been YEARS since I have worked bees. I've gathered swarms and split hives... but never trapt or did cut outs.
    2. I have no resources. My frames and hive boxes are brand new and the colony will have to draw their own comb. If it were 10 years ago I had the resources to get a few frames of brood for a trap out.


    So.. my idea is to get up there in the early AM with a vac set up to suck bees into an enclosed hive box. Work the chimney and hope I can get the comb out with brood and honey while sucking every bee I can find up into the box. I will graft the comb into frames and stagger them with fresh foundation and 'old' comb to convince the bees to draw fresh comb. Eventually I will pull the old comb out and they will work fresh drawn comb.... providing the 'old' comb doesn't fit well in the box of frames.

    There is a convenient place to put the bee hive once it is full that is about 8 inches from the opening of the flue. My thoughts are that when I get the majority of the bees into the box (queen excluder on bottom to prevent them from absconding) the remaining bees that I haven't been able to suck up or transfer to the new home will be drawn to the hive to satisfy their undying urge to work. I know this only works if the queen is captured....


    SO... my question is this. Does the above plan make sense or is their a better way to successfully capture these guys so all parties involved are happy?

    The folks called a local beekeeper to capture them and besides being absurdedly high in his price... he would't let the folks have the bees when he was done. His prices were 500 bucks to remove the bees. I called and asked him what he would charge to capture these bees and put them into provided equipment (our own boxes) and leave them for my folks to take care of. The price went to 900 bucks.

    The folks would rather use electric heat and NOT use a fire vs. harm these bees in any way. Now that I am living in the same area as them, they asked me if I could gather them and keep them on their place. So here I set.


    Thanks for any and all advice.
    Mark
     
  2. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    Depending on how far down from the top of the flue they are is going to be the difficult part of removal. I had one to do but they died out over the winter.

    I would seriously try to find a frame of brood with eggs, and do a trap out. If you trap them out all you will have left is empty wax comb to remove.

    You can do the cut out as described above but there will be some losses of comb down the chimney the best you can do.
    My plan was to take an old bed sheet and stuff up into the flue liner (you could just use plastic and duct tape to seal the front of the fire place) to keep bees from flying back into the house. Take a piece of plywood and put a 4" PVC 90* in it and attach my trap out cone screen to the 90*.

    For doing the cut out think about some long handled tools, duct tape a long blade serrated knife to the end of a heavy yard stick to cut the comb, Iddee gave me a good idea of using something like an ash shovel bent on a 90* to catch the comb (just bent wire will more than likley just pull through the soft wax).

    This one will be time consuming and dangerous working on a sloped roof. If you are very high up I would wear a fall arrest harness.
    Just think of getting multipule stings and no where to go.
    The bee vac is a wonderful tool and will help get the masses under control.

    Something else to think about is instead of getting all of the tools, vac, hive bodies, etc. on the roof, you could build up a scaffold next to the chimney if it is on the end wall of the house, and floor it with walk boards to have a good work platform to work off of. This is really a two man job, one on the ground and one up high.

    Just be careful what ever you do, a box of bugs is cheap compared to a doctor bill.

    G3

    Almost forgot...................Welcome to the forum!!
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    A shop vac is not a bee vac. A shop vac will leave you with a gallon or so of dead bees. A bee vac is entirely different.

    Find another beekeeper. Although I charge about the same to do that type a removal, I would mentor a home owner through it for free. It is worth the 500 to do it, but a couple of local beeks should be willing to guide you through it for little or nothing.

    The above paragraph should also give you an idea of the size of job you are thinking about taking on.
     
  4. marksmith

    marksmith New Member

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    Didnt say I was going to shop vac them out. I'm going to use a shop vac to provide the vacuum and vacuum them into a box. On the box will be an adjustable damper to regulate the suction PRE-collection box so I can have just enough suction to get the job done.


    The comb starts about 10-12" from the top of the flue. I do not know how far down into the chimney it goes.
     
  5. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Sounds like you have the vac down pat. I wish you luck. If there's any way I can help, just ask. I'll send you my phone number if you want.
     
  6. marksmith

    marksmith New Member

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    I'm still a few days away from tackling this job. Friday is 'supposed' to be fairly nice weather wise for working these gals. (overcast, no rain and 60-62 degrees)

    My biggest fear as of right now is somehow killing this colony with an unsuccessful cut out. If I had the resources for 1 frame of brood I would trap out in a second.


    Thanks for the help all.. by all means please keep it coming.


    Mark
     
  7. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    I know you said you have worked bees before, but have you ever done a cut out?? Just wondering.

    We can try to help you get a list of tools you might need.