I have some people who know I am a beekeeper. They have places out in the middle of the swamp. Since these places are about the only suitable places for miles they very often get beehives in them. I have removed hives from these places before. But this one was one of the most remote. Usually I go to remove them during the dry season since I can usually walk out there. This one wasn't going to be one of those.
The lodge was a 20 minute airboat ride from the ramp. So even walking there was out of the question. A swamp buggy might have worked but there are some very deep areas out there and it could swallow the buggy. I brought some help for me on this one. Cara (not my sister) came with me on this cut out. Jerry was the person who asked me to come and do the cut out. Jerry works as a fireman in SoFla. It was also Jerry's airboat that was taking us to the location. The boat ramp is off of the Alligator Alley highway.
Now getting to the boat ramp means on a Sunday I had to get up at 6:00am in morning. On a Sunday that is a crime. So I reluctantly woke up and just to be mean woke my wife up also. Hey, if I have to suffer so should she, right? Janel was a good sport about it and made lunch. I picked up Cara and drove out to the boat ramp. We met Jerry and unloaded the equipment on to the airboat. This was a very cool looking airboat lots of anodized purple on the metal and a nice set of art work on the fins. Since we loaded up the boat we couldn't run out there are a full speed. but it was really nice to be able to just sit back and enjoy the landscape, sort of. When you are on an airboat you usually wear headset for protection against the noise of the engine. You will also wear sun glasses not because of the sun, but because of the bugs. Which means if you open your mouth you will get plenty of protein.
On the ride out there you will see tons of birds and other wildlife. Even in the swamp this is considered winter and most of the gators are off taking it easy. We still saw one on the ride out there. When ever you ride an airboat try to make sure it has a grass rake on it. The reason for that is the tall grass bends over the bow and whips you mercilessly. The grass rake causes the grass to bend long before it can reach you. A grass rake is nice but it does nothing about the grass that comes over the side.
When we reached the lodge we had seen that they had taken most of the shingles off the side. I started to asses how big the hive was. So I drilled a hole near what I guessed to be the top. Which in this case was just below a window sill. And I guessed right. When I drilled I hit comb. And now I have bees telling me they don't like my ideas on redecorating.
Jerry got suited up in his fireman gear and used one of my extra veils. Cara wore her protection. I went in with the veil and gloves. The bees took advantage of my exposed forearms and I received a few stings there. Hives in walls like this are difficult to cut out properly. If you expose the whole hive you risk it collapsing on itself under it's own weight. When you remove the side panel The comb tends to have attachment points to it. Removal of those all at once removes structural support. So what we dis was working form the bottom toward the top we removed it sections. This helped to prevent total collapse. It was a good thing to do.
The hive had about 100lbs/45.35kg of honey. The hive was also getting at the early stages of swarm mode. The drone comb was massive and the brood comb was minimal. I didn't even fill up five frames with brood. A little longer and the queen cells when have been there.
It took about 5-6 hours to do the cutout. Near the end I decided to check the next chamber on the wall just to be sure the bees had not built in two sections. They had not but there was a mass of bees there. So they were getting ready to. We moved most of the bees into the box. Loaded up the airboat and prepared to head back.
The trip on the way back was very nice because in the morning it was cold (cold for SoFla). The afternoon was nice and warm (like it should be in SoFla). We saw a river otter bounce around in the grasses as we headed back. It was really nice to see a river otter in the wild.
The hive is at the bee farm and I will probably requeen it. But I will want to see how they are doing.
You can see the pictures here:http://www.brendhanhorne.com/coppermine_dir/thumbnails.php?album=178
You can also see a short video I shot here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHe8fQWiids