Cut out from hell

Discussion in 'Swarms, Cut outs, and Trap outs' started by cstephen, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. cstephen

    cstephen New Member

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    I run a small organic farming operation selling vegetables at grower’s markets and try to keep a few top bar hives mostly for my own interest and because I really like them and I’m a fresh honey addict. I'm fairly new at this and have only been doing it for a couple of years. The first year I got a hive from a friend and it was great and a fun experiment. The hive was in a Langstroth box and over the course of a summer, I successfully convinced them to move into a top bar. I gathered a couple more swarms that summer from calls and was happy and I thought I was on the way to becoming a successful beekeeper.

    Long story short, I lost all three hives. One just disappeared, one didn’t survive the winter despite my feeding them, and the last hope were victims of wax moths.

    This year I got no calls for actual swarms, just for extractions of existing hives. So I built a bee vac box and had no luck on the first two calls I got. I came home with boxes full of bees and I gave them honey and brood comb, but none survived more than a month. I really don’t know what I’m doing; I just try my best and hope it works.

    My latest extraction is from hell. The owner thought they were between the ceiling and roof and let me seal the room below and remove the sheetrock. I cut out a 16 inch by one-foot by eight-foot piece of ceiling rock from the wall to the blocking and the whole cavity was full of brand new capped and uncapped honey. Basically the super. A five-gallon bucketful. No brood comb to be found. I thought they might have gone up into an addition frame wall but drilled test holes revealed no bees. They went down into the concrete block wall below. I also suspected that they were into the adjacent wall but the property owner said there was no way. So we left it.

    I chiseled out the block wall from the roof to two feet above the ground where a gas pipe stopped me, following the catacomb of honey and brood comb through its twists and turns. The honey in the wall was well aged and the brood was hatching. No new eggs anywhere. No sign of a queen though I never expected to really find her in the maze. I probed the last two feet and got my hand stuck, just more old honey, and lost my glove in pulling it out and got severely bitten on the wrist on the way back and called it a day as it was well after dark.

    I put the 20,000 or so bees I vacuumed into a top bar along with all the brood and some honeycomb; but I’m not hopeful. I have no queen and no new eggs, no hives to rob, and know of no one selling queens this late in the season.

    The property owner called today, two days later, and told me that the bees were still quite active and appeared to be coming and going from the top of the adjacent block wall I thought they might also be in. This hive must be really extensive. It's been there about three years if I can believe the property owner. We don’t want to cut into this wall as it’s load bearing with joists on top, so I did some web research and discovered the trap-out method. I’m willing to give anything a try at this point.

    So my questions are: Can this method work this late in the season, about three weeks out from the first frost? Will I get the queen this way or will I have to introduce one or can they make one? Can they make it through the winter if I give them their honey back and they make or get a queen? Should I even bother this late?

    The owner wants to fix the roof ASAP so he can rent out the property, but he’s willing to wait until November, so waiting until spring is not an option.

    Any and all advice is appreciated. :hi:

    Claude Stephenson
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    your story is a good reflection of why I avoid take outs. block and brick and the mess seldom warrants the effort.

    Iddee is the trap out king.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    You will not get the queen with a trapout 1 in 50 times. You will rid the house of bees if done properly.

    Larry Tate may have queens this late.
    viewtopic.php?f=27&t=1490

    If you decide to do the trap out, read all five threads here,
    viewtopic.php?f=35&t=1488

    Then call me if you want to talk through the details. PM me if you want my phone number.

    PS. Welcome to the forum.
     
  4. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    If do a trap out this late, do what I'm doing and just take the bees back to your main apiary and add them to your existing hives to strengthen any weak ones.
     
  5. cstephen

    cstephen New Member

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    I haven’t had a chance to get back to the cut out from hell yet. I talked to the property owner on the phone today and he said the bees are still quite active but seem confined to the one concrete cell in the load-bearing block wall. I queried him about other possible openings and he said he could see no others. I’ll go by tomorrow and check it out.

    My plan is to make a wood board to cover the concrete block cell opening, cut to the outer dimension of the concrete block with a hole drilled in it to hold the hardware cloth cone. The bottom large diameter of the hole I cut seems arbitrary but should be no larger than the cell, so I’m guessing 2 ½-3†will do, 4†max. I’m thinking that I can seal the edges with silicon and also use silicon to seal any holes I discover that may seem problematic.

    I don’t have a top bar nuc and have no time to construct one, so I’m thinking that I can use a divider top bar that cuts the normal box in half. I made one previously as a queen excluder and I can adapt it easily.

    My major worry at this point is the attractant to lure the trapped bees into the new hive box. I’m reluctant to rob brood comb from my few fragile hives, as I don’t want to endanger them. In lieu of brood comb, what can I use? Someone I read mentioned something about lemon grass. Will that work?

    I’m expecting this to all be just an educational learning if futile experience as the season is late and I know that I’ve not much hope of gaining a working hive out of this; but I can dump them into another hive in hopes of strengthening it.

    Thanks,

    Claude Stephenson

    PS the bees I vacuumed from the initial cutout are diminished but still quite active. I’ll try and go in soon and see what they’re up to. Maybe I did get some egg comb.
     
  6. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    If you don't want to use eggs from your hive, use the whole hive. It will boost the numbers in the hive and make it stronger. There hasn't been another attractant found. Lemongrass or drawn comb will NOT work.
     
  7. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    I've found that there's no need to attract them to the bait hive if the entrance to the bait hive is within 3/8" of the cone the bees' own curiosity gets them to go in and once in they seem to stay on their own.
     
  8. cstephen

    cstephen New Member

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    I got back to the cut out from hell this morning to set up a trap-out. I had measured the ragged concrete block opening on my last visit and had constructed a wooden plug in advance to attach the wire cone to.

    Upon surveying the situation, I saw that the bees were also coming and going from another 2†wide by a dogleg 5†long opening below on the same south facing wall. I ripped out the roofing edge to better get at this other opening and noticed bees bearding along a roof joist on the perpendicular east wall. Not good. I swept the bees away with my brush and saw that there was a half-inch opening between the north-south joist and the concrete block wall that paralleled it with more bees behind it.

    Long story short, I installed my wire cone and plug on the upper opening on the south block wall, caulked it in good and tight, and then plastered the 2x5 inch dogleg opening shut with wire and cement/sand/lime. Then I went home and got my bee vac and came back.

    I removed the entire block parapet on the east wall down to the wooden plate, vacuuming bees out of the half-inch by nine inch tall crevice as I went, about fifteen feet. They were all docile and bearded on either the block or the wooden joist. I estimate I vacuumed over 3,000 out of this narrow but long crevice. There was no room for any comb but they had built some wax starts on the joist. It was easy to tell how far they had gone by their propylis trail. Short one block from the corner. I thought that they must have either gone down into the block wall below or into the ceiling, but there was no sign of them in either place or evidence as to how they could have gotten in. It’s a mystery what they were all doing in there. No sign of a queen or any comb, though I did vac up a drone.

    We sealed up the last corner block even though there was no evidence of bees going into it, and then I set up my box on the roof with the porch at the base of the earlier installed cone. By then it was getting dark. I’ll check in tomorrow afternoon to see if they’re bearding around the trap-out cone or if there are any leaks.

    The only way any of this makes sense to me is if I am dealing with two hives, one in the south wall and one in the east. There is no real obvious connection other than the original hole in the roof entrance between the two and accessible by both. Perhaps, after destroying one hive by removing the blocks in the east wall, the survivors I vacuumed today took refuge along the crevice. The hive in the south block wall is still thriving but hopefully now sealed and trapped-out.

    But which hive belonged to the super? Both? I took two five gallon buckets of fresh capped and uncapped comb out of the ceiling in my initial foray into this mess. As far as I know bees don’t share supers. Perhaps I should dig into the next joist over in the ceiling, although it does not appear to be accessible to the south hive as far as I can see. It’s a mystery.

    Anyway, lesson learned. I’ll never sucker into this type of cut out again. I’ll set up a trap right away or let them call in the dreaded exterminators if they’re in a hurry.

    I’m not sure if I’m looking for sage advice, pointers, shared experience, or sympathy here. I’m mostly looking to make sense of all this. Any of the above options are appreciated.

    Best,

    Claude Stephenson
     
  9. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    It is definitely an interesting saga. Pics would be helpful. Not only interesting, but helpful in making suggestions on what to do next.
     
  10. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Hey, Claude. Glad to see you back. How did this one end up?
     
  11. cstephen

    cstephen New Member

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    Not that well Idee. Got them out but they did not make it through an abnormally bitter winter. They were borderline anyway, having been trapped out so late in the season. Most everyone I know lost over half their hives this year.

    Claude
     
  12. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Sorry to hear that. I have heard it too many times this year. As the farmers always say, There's always next year. Wishing you better luck this year.
     
  13. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    That's too bad they did not make it after all of that hard work.