Last Saturday I received a phone call about a hive of bees up the canyon near my home. The man that called me said that the bees were in his favorite camping spot and he wanted to know if I would remove them so he could camp there. I was not at all prepared to do a cutout and considered telling him no. After getting all the details and a text with a google earth image of the location, I decided to head up the canyon and do a quick assessment of the situation.
The hive was in a tree that had fallen over, and was close to the ground. All of the combs were completely accessible. Once I determined that the operation would be more of a “transfer” than a “cutout”, I hurried home to get the tools ready. The hive had absolutely no stores and only a small amount of brood, so my biggest fear was that they would abscond during the process.
The first thing on my list was to make a quick bee vac. Fortunately, one of the SurvivorBees Facebook Group members had posted a simple five gallon bucket design. I had a few five gallon buckets laying around, and managed to build a functioning bee vac in about 30 minutes.
The biggest challenge was figuring out how I would get power to the shop vac up the canyon. I had actually considered doing the whole thing without a shop vac, and even attempted to remove a few combs. The bees did not find any of my actions helpful, and became extremely agitated as I rummaged through their home. Fortunately, I was able to round up a generator to get the bee vac working.
Once the vacuum was up and running, the real work began. It seemed to take forever to get all the bees sucked up, especially as I was looking for the queen. I honestly did not think I would find her. Luckily, I managed to spot her in the mess of comb and bees.
One of the hardest parts of the operation was convincing myself to pour out all the bees into their new home. I had just spent hours sucking them up and I was afraid that they would all fly back to the old hive. My experience in beekeeping has taught me that the bees are always thinking outside the boxes I put them in. Even though I had the queen secured, and a fresh frame of brood, I knew that any number of variables could change the bees minds about staying.
All in all, this was a fun project. The bees accepted their new home. I now have six hives, which is two more than my goal of four by the end of the year. The best part is that it only cost me my time and a couple stings. After my last cutout, I was a little nervous about doing this one. I had a lot more experience this time, and it couldn’t have gone any better. I may even consider doing another one… maybe.