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Crazy colony exposed in a tree

Just got a swarm call- for what looks like a kind of crazy established hive in a tree. I don’t need any more bees just now but I might take this one on just for the sake of the bees and the sheer fun of it. The homeowners plan to remove the tree in a few weeks so the colony is in trouble as is and needs to go:

I haven’t done a job quite like this- it looks quite tricky- apparently the bees are around 3 meters off the ground… Hive looks large- but what comb I can see is completely crazy with many leaves built into it. Doesn’t look like it will cut out easily. Any tips on how to go about this one? @JeffH - I WILL Use a frame of brood :wink:


Hi Jack, this would not be the time for a frame of brood at the start. It looks big & heavy, but it might not be as heavy as it looks, on account of the bees using most of their honey to keep the brood warm. If it was wrapped around one branch, you could tie a rope around it before cutting the branch, then lower it down, like I did with the bees in the banana tree. Then start pulling it apart in the same manner. It will be easy because the flying bees will go back to where the hive used to be.

This is how we tackled the bees in the banana tree.

If you can get some of their own good brood into frames, then get them into a box with a lot of bees, the bees that are up where the hive used to be will come down.

I hope you charge a reasonable fee Jack.

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great video jeff. How long did you leave the box there? Do you know if you did get the queen or not?

Considering that the tree that my colony is in is slated for destruction- hopefully I will be able to cut off some branches and lower the colony like you did. Hopefully it won’t just fall apart… Maybe I will try and hang it in a cardboard box before I lower it. I might be able to use my bee vacuum to suck up most of the bees before I start.

Yeah, the bee vac would be a good idea. I forget whether I got the queen or not. That part never bothers me.

If you get some of their brood into a box, then shake the bees from the vac into it before putting the lid on, the bees high up will come down the same day. Then you can take it away that night.

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How do you go wiring the cut out comb into the frames like that Jeff?
I did it once and it all fell out when I shifted it, so now I use chicken wire stapled to one side of the frames and folded around and "latched/hooked to some panel pin nails on the other side. Seems to work.

Hi Chris, wiring comb to frames like I did is less than ideal, that’s for sure. For me it’s just a means to an end. I never keep comb like that if frames for very long because the bees fill the gaps with drone comb. I cycle them out very quickly & replace with fresh foundation.

I guess if you shift the box quickly, wiring the comb like I did in the frames is not ideal because, as you say, it falls out when shifted. The bees quickly bridge gaps with comb, stabilizing it, therefore if the hive is not moved for a few days, it works out fine.

Chris- I strongly recommend the use of rubber bands- I’ve never tried chicken wire but I imagine rubber bands have to be easier- and you don’t need to go back in and remove them- the bees do it all by themselves throwing the bands out the front door… In addition- if you use the brilliant method shown in the video below you can use extra bands to push the comb pieces up onto the top of the frame- so the bees end up building perfect frames. If they fall slightly to one side everything gets messed up- this method ensures no such problems. This is the key if you ask me.

the important bit is around 1:25 minute mark.

So, did you finish up tackling and taming this beast @Semaphore?

Not yet- we are going to do it early next week. I have enlisted a friend- as it turns out the colony is absolutely huge- maybe 3 feet long. and 6 meters up. we are fine tuning our bee vacuum and preparing our plan of attack… Luckily the home owner is willing to pay as she wants to save the bees. I’ll see if I can take some photos when we do it.