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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Got a call late last fall about bees in the wall. We decided to wait until spring to address it with a trapout. Well...a few months ago it seemed that this colony had died out over winter. It was decided to just rob it out. There was no sound from them when listening with the stethoscope and no activity on warm days.
Evidently an opportunistic swarm found this before I got to it. The homeowner happened to see some activity...and called me.
The bees could then be heard in 2 walls at the corner of the house.
A few days ago I went over and sealed up several alternative entrances with steel wool...leaving only the one main entrance.
The equipment needed was cobbled together over the course of a couple of days.

Today I went over and started the trapout. What an enjoyable time! It was fairly straightforward work. Only used steel wool for gap filling. Had silicone, but decided it wasn't needed.
The work went without incident and the bees were really good natured. When I was done, there was general chaos among the returning bee's. I went home and got a frame of brood and installed it in the catch box..

Normally I would be happy about this, but all the frames in the hive I could use were literally "filled" with capped brood! Best I could do was a frame with about 90% capped brood and 10% open brood in all stages of development. Couldn't tell if there were eggs as I didn't have my magnifiers with me. Time will tell!
Here is a brief pictorial account of the work.(Sure hope this works!)

http://s1107.photobucket.com/albums/h39 ... Irvington/
 

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Nice set up. Check the frame for queen cells between Fri. and Wednesday of next week. That will be day 9-14 of the queen cycle. If you don't have capped queen cells, add another frame with eggs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The change in attitude among the bees was surprisingly evident when I installed the frame of brood(and hopefully eggs). The chaos was still there...but reduced by about 80% within a moment of installing the brood.
I could see the bees settling down and going in directly to the place where the brood had been placed.
By that time I could also observe some traffic "from" the catch box...and was somewhat startled by the number of bees in the catch box when I opened it. I hadn't expected so many so soon. It was just under an hour before installing the brood that I had finished setting everything up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
24 hour update: Went and checked after work today...everything looked good. There was some coming and going from the catch box and those who were returning from their first trip after leaving from the cone were confused. I watched for a few minutes while talking with the homeowner.
Then...I noticed more bees than usual inside the cone. In the brief moment since I had looked at the cone, a small leaf bud fell from a nearby tree...and landed square in the opening of the cone!
Thank goodness I was standing there and noticed. I got the ladder and climbed up and removed the obstruction. The outflow of bees resumes and all was right with the world.
Has anyone else had an obstruction occur like that? I imagine it would not bode well for the trapout process to trap the bees "in".
 

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Screen collapsing, dead bees, yes.
Tree bud, no.
They will pack up behind the others, trying to get out, until they all die. It is important to keep the cone open.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The homeowner called earlier this evening and was concerned. She reported that bee's were coming out at a much higher rate that she had seen before late this afternoon. I told her all is well.
Got me to thinking. Does there, perhaps, come a point when the colony realizes the reduction in stores/bees coming in...and this results in the bees changing jobs and more housekeeping bees head out to do foraging?(thus unwittingly hastening the trapout!!!????)
 

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If they are coming out fast enough to clog the cone, the queen has absconded. If there are none coming out tomorrow, the job is done.
 

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Barry, I think you are correct, as the returning foragers are unable to bring their bounty back to the colony, younger and younger bees are eventually recruited into duties they might not otherwise have done. At some point with no nectar and pollen coming in, the queen begins to shut down, just as in a dearth.
A sudden mass exodus as described suggests that Iddee is bang on with his thinking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
1 week Update:
Checked the catch box about 5pm. 2 queen cells had been drawn from the brood I installed a week ago. There were bee's coming and going and there were enough bee's in the catch box to cover 3 medium frames, both sides. That's one frame of mostly capped brood w/queen cells, one frames full of open nectar(both sides), and one frame with one side filled with open nectar.
With 3 frames covered with bee's and some field bee's out working, it seems to me that this may not be a particularly big colony in the house. Saw 4 or 5 bee's exit the cone while I was there. Nothing huge, but steady.
Will check next weekend to see if there are enough bee's in the catch box to warrant taking some home...unless the homeowner indicates an earlier inspection may be needed.
The mournful sound of queenlessness was noticeable as soon as I opened the catch box. Can't wait to hear their sound after the new queen gets mated!
So far, so good!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
This has been a real pleasure. Much more enjoyable that cutouts, in my opinion. My cutouts have been hot, sweaty and messy work that took much longer than anticipated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
2 week update.
After 2 weeks there is about half of the medium box full of bees, as of about 12:30 pm today. Just took a quick peek to assess population. Should have had a queen hatch in the last 48 hours, so I didn't want to disturb more than necessary. Still thinking this was a small colony that hadn't been in the walls long enough to really increase their population much.
Watched for a half hour. Bee's are still exiting the cone at the rate of one every 3-1/2 minutes. There are no alternate entrances being used.
I think this is still progressing nicely.
I told the homeowner to call if anything concerned her...and I would see her next Sunday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
3 week update:
Spent about an hour observing today. not a single bee was observed leaving the cone.
Checked the catch box bees. Observed a hatched queen cell, and a partially torn down queen cell. Did not find a queen and could not see eggs. Now, I was perched precariously atop an 8' ladder, so I was not able to concentrate much on queen spotting. The queen should have had a mating flight about the middle of this past week, so it may be a bit early for eggs. However...I observed pollen coming in and bees engaged in "festooning". That made me optimistic. I buttoned them back up and will look for eggs/larva next Sunday.
In the meantime, the homeowner and I will spend more time this week observing the cone. If I find eggs/larva in the catch box...and observe no bees exiting the cone between now and next Sunday, Would it be too soon to consider removal of the cone for robbing and pillaging purposes next Sunday...just the end of week 4?
 

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I would consider it a bit soon. Three weeks for the last egg to emerge means they are still emerging at this time. It takes a few days for them to mature enough to fly. I would say that, unless the home owner sees the cone pack tight with bees emerging, "abscond", then 4 weeks is too soon. You will see bees returning to the house with pollen, meaning the queen has returned to laying and the trap must be restarted from the beginning, if you remove the cone too soon. I would go 5 weeks minimum unless the abscond is seen.
 

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I agree, a minimum of 30 to 45 days for a trap out. You would be surprised how many bees will still be in the wall/tree and not see any exiting the cone.
 
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