First Cut Out! Any Advice?

I was visiting my bees at a friend’s farm today and a neighbor came by to say there was a colony of bees that had taken up residence in an old trailer next door. I went to check it out and it looks like a pretty straight forward cut out, perfect for my first time attempting this! It’s winter here right now, so the bees were huddled for warmth mid day and seemed pretty mellow, not minding my presence. I’m thinking that cutting them out would work better really early in the morning or in the evening to insure most of the bees are there to be collected. I was also thinking that I should place a sheet on the floor to catch and collect any bees that fall. I’m not sure if I should try to brush them all of onto cloth and transfer them to a bucket before loosening the comb or if I should remove the comb and shake them all into a container.

Other than that, is there anything I have missed? Anyone have any words of advice before I try this?

@dustin Prepare a box, empty Frames, 'Lacky Bands to hold the comb you cut, an old sheet. Some unmade frames if you have them to use like top bars, wire or fishing line threaded in a needle or cable ties will work. Ladders etc you may need Smoker just in case, Bee brush or similar if you have one - Very soft bristled bush or feather duster at a pinch.

A helper both of you suited would be good. A 3rd person in a suit may be useful.

Line everything up, walk it through in your head. Count the number of combs and have extra frames the combs may be longer than you think.

Cut the first comb and place it in a frame to as you are see how it fits you have 2 choices - If you have 2 brood boxes you may need them.

If the first comb is too big for the frame - it probably will be - you may have to cut the combs and place them in a double brood box and strung from a top bar style to let them hang long and loose down the length of 2 brood boxes.

You can use the top of the frames and use wire or fishing line on a needle to sew the combs onto the top bar type frame using the wire, fishing line or string Cable ties 1" - 2" down from the top bar to hold them secure.

Does that make sense?

Keep the combs in the same order and orientation.

Don’t worry about getting all the bees

Place the brood boxes you have on a sheet under the combs any bees that fall on the sheet will make their way into the box later - they will fan Nasonov pheromone to attract any stray bees to the new box

Leve the bees in the hive in situ until a couple of hours after dark and then seal them in

Have fun


Thanks Valli! I’m really excited to do this! I spoke with the owner of the property this evening who said they have a 70 year old hive on their property living in the empty body of an old truck! I can’t wait to take a look at that hive!

I have a bee brush, smoker, empty frames and some with foundation, so I’m good there. I’m guessing lacky bands is the same as rubber bands or gum bands? I was planning on cutting and fitting as much of the comb in frames as I could and was thinking I’d have to use fishing line or wire, but I like the idea of using bands better especially when working with gloves on. Why is it important to keep the combs in the same order? I was thinking I’d have to cut them vertically and rotate them 90 degrees to maximize the amount of comb I could save, but you are saying I should make cuts horizontally instead and stack two boxes to keep the comb the same size or height? Does the benefit of keeping it in the same comb orientation even if I need to use two boxes outweigh giving the bees too much room to look after? It looked like a small group of bees and we have hive beetles in the area, so my instinct is to fit them into one box for a while until they are stronger.

@dustin Yes Sorry Forgot you were USA

Bees in Comb when Pupating are on their backs and the comb has an up-ways tilt to help keep the Nectar being turned into Honey from Dripping out.

Also if you keep the combs in the same order the Brood Nest will be kept fairly intact and the nurse bees will not be spread over a wide area and will be able to keep the hive to the correct temperature.

Being winter although mild I assume in Texas, there may not be much brood - check for brood first if you can.

It looks like the hive is attached at the sides? Or is it hanging down and the bottom is attached to the 2nd “lath” strut? it is hard to see.

If you can keep the hive as intact as possible in the correct orientation you will be doing well.

If there is mainly stores and no brood just keep them the correct way up - Lacky band them into the frames and give them a couple of Starter strips of foundation - what ever you have.

And if it is just Stores cut them to fit the frames you have and do your best with the spare comb - crush and strain out the leftovers you may get some honey as well - pressy for the Guy who owns the site

The weather in Texas has a multiple personality disorder! It will be 80F/26C one day and 50F/10C the next. On the rare occasion we have snow, it doesn’t stay on the ground for more than a day.

Okay, that makes sense about the comb. It is connected on the right side with a small selection attached on the left and some on the back. Top and bottom are free. I’m thinking I’ll spend tomorrow prepping and set the bees up the next day.

Hi Dustin, what I would do is remove the comb at the top, keep the comb with honey separate to crush & strain later on. Gently cut the pieces of brood comb to place in empty frames. This video shows the method I’m using to fix cutout comb to empty frames. It’s at the 5 minute mark. I discovered that there’s no need to worry about the combs orientation. You can put it upside down if you like. However the original orientation would be preferred. Place the frames in the new box flanked with frames containing pollen & honey. Dab a few drops of lemongrass oil inside the box. Place the new box close to the old hive. Remove any remaining comb & Bob’s your uncle.


Check it in a weeks time to make sure you still have a queen, good luck with it, cheers

Those combs look largely empty so you should be able to trim them to fit frames with little loss of brood or stores.
I have done two cut outs. I didn’t brush bees at all. I cut the comb with the bees on it. I tried to look for the queen and found her both times. Once she is safely in the box you can be a bit more cavalier with the rest.
Best of luck.

@Dee was only thinking of brushing bees off the comb as they may already be in brood in the milder Texan weather. I know the bees go to Almonds the start of Feb and the brood is at least one cycle on.

It helps to be careful

Your videos are awesome, Jeff! I love the one with the kookaburra! That is a neat way secure the comb in frames. Does the fishing line come off easily once the comb is attached with more wax or do the bees build comb over it? What does the lemongrass oil do? Is it an attractant or mellow them out?

I’m guessing they haven’t been there for too long with how empty the combs were. I hadn’t thought about not brushing the bees, but I guess that could be an option too depending on where they are on the comb tomorrow. I’m hoping for another rainy day like today so most of them are home for easy collection.

I head out tomorrow morning! I’ll let y’all know how it went when I get back! Thanks for the pointers!

Thank you Dustin:) I used rod binding on the frames to secure the cutout comb, is that what you mean? If so, the bees just chew it off, actually I saw some hanging out of an entrance one day & it took me a few moments to work out what it was. What you said about putting the brood comb sideways so it fits in the frame better works fine. I did a little upside down brood experiment recently & found no problems with placing the brood upside down. After a discussion on here with Adam Dagna. Here’s my video: We have another video using starter strips & fishing line. I wasn’t sure if you were asking about that or not. If so, that’s not my preferred way of setting frames up. That system was for a customer I was selling a colony of bees to. I like frames with full sheets of wax foundation.

I only learned about lemongrass oil a few years ago, apparently it mimics queen pheromones or something like that. I find it great for a situation like yours. The bees really take to a new box well when it has a few drops of lemongrass oil dabbed in a few places. Also smear a little bit on the frames. You don’t need much. Good luck with it Dustin, thanks again, bye for now.

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Good stuff for bait hives too. A dab at the entrance and a few dots on your top bars inside

Wheeeeeeeeeeew! Done and DONE! That went really well. I was able to save almost all the comb using the rubber bands to hold them in the frames. I ended up using seven of eight frames to hold it all. The bees were really quite gentle after a little smoke. I didn’t see the queen, but I think I likely got her. There were tons of hive beetles running around on the comb, so that will be my next issue/project with them. I wish I had an extra screened bottom board to help them kick out beetles, but had to put them on a solid board instead. Towards the end there was a bit of robbing going on, so when I was done I closed off the entrance and put a one way entrance on the inner lid and let that sit until sundown when I moved the hive to it’s new location. I put a top feeder on them to help them get set up and through winter, did the lemongrass trick and put an entrance reducer on.

With the issue of the comb being infested with hive beetles, how long should I let them settle in and work on securing the comb before I go in there to deal with that? What method do you guys have best results with in getting rid of beetles? I have one plastic hive beetle trap that sits between the tops of frames, but I think I need to do more than that.

Hi Dustin, well done!!! Get on to those beetles straight away, I don’t use any traps. I use solid boards. Even if you have another super handy, you could do one frame at a time, squashing every beetle you see before putting that frame into the new box.
Once the first box is empty, squash every beetle you find.
It’s important once you have the beetle under control to make sure you don’t have any frames that contain brood or pollen without a really good covering of worker bees on them.
Remove any drone comb, that may not have any brood in it anyway.
Make sure you don’t leave any dead bees squashed between the combs.

The beetle lay their eggs in brood, dead bees & pollen. If you don’t allow the beetle access to those 3 things, you’ll be right. good luck with that. bye for now

@Dustin if you re worried about the beetle and there is no brood on the comb yet, treat the hive like a swarm. Put them on new comb, foundation or starter strips and feed them letting them build new combs, getting rid of the old comb out right.

Because you are a new beek there should not be any hive beetles at your place.

Take all the old frames off and deep freeze them for 2 weeks to kill off any baddies.

If you really want to keep the combs.

If not, melt them down for wax.

Job done

How do you avoid shaking the beetles in with the bees?

Find the Queen first and cage her. Put her in a cage in the fresh hive.

Shake the bees outside the hive after you find the Queen.

Let the bees come back in. Beetle trap at the front so beetles can’t get back in.

Bit drastic but will sort out the beetles.

I don’t know much about beetles which is why I asked.
I didn’t realise you could get an entrance trap that let bees in but kept beetles out.

With an established hive there are tons of things you can do to reduce beetles. Screened bottom board, screened bottom board with a trap, entrance traps, traps you can lay along the bottom board containing bait, oil or diatomaceous earth, traps that hang between frames and making sure your bees don’t have more room than they can patrol in the hive. I recently read about people using cleaning cloth sheets. They put them in the hive, the bees chew them up making them fuzzy by separating the fibers and the beetles get caught in them. My other hive had a beetle issue at one point last year, but it looks to be under control at the moment. I wasn’t sure how long to give the rescued bees to settle in their new home before working on the problem, but it sounds like the sooner the better. I do worry about the beetles jumping from this new hive to my old one.