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Author Topic: Chimney Bees  (Read 5143 times)

Offline marksmith

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Chimney Bees
« on: April 12, 2010, 09:23:13 PM »
First off... thanks to Irwin for the heads up on this forum.  I've looked around a touch and can tell you I am definitely going to be asking a bunch of questions.



My folks have a chimney that they have despirately wanted to use for the last 3 years... but its occupied at the moment by a very healthy amount of bees.

When you look into the top of the chimney it is wall to wall comb and I have no clue how far down the chimney it actually goes.

I want to remove these bees and put them in 'conventional' boxes. I think 2 large brood boxes with a western honey super on top would be sufficient to start with (knowing I will have to expand honey storage quite a bit in the coming months) The ultimate goal here is to relocate the bees to a conventional hive so they can bee monitored and kept healthy. There is an abundance of fruit trees and grapes in the vacinity so they are very much so needed to do their jobs.

The problem is:
1. Its been YEARS since I have worked bees. I've gathered swarms and split hives... but never trapt or did cut outs.
2. I have no resources. My frames and hive boxes are brand new and the colony will have to draw their own comb. If it were 10 years ago I had the resources to get a few frames of brood for a trap out.


So.. my idea is to get up there in the early AM with a vac set up to suck bees into an enclosed hive box. Work the chimney and hope I can get the comb out with brood and honey while sucking every bee I can find up into the box. I will graft the comb into frames and stagger them with fresh foundation and 'old' comb to convince the bees to draw fresh comb. Eventually I will pull the old comb out and they will work fresh drawn comb.... providing the 'old' comb doesn't fit well in the box of frames.

There is a convenient place to put the bee hive once it is full that is about 8 inches from the opening of the flue. My thoughts are that when I get the majority of the bees into the box (queen excluder on bottom to prevent them from absconding) the remaining bees that I haven't been able to suck up or transfer to the new home will be drawn to the hive to satisfy their undying urge to work. I know this only works if the queen is captured....


SO... my question is this. Does the above plan make sense or is their a better way to successfully capture these guys so all parties involved are happy?

The folks called a local beekeeper to capture them and besides being absurdedly high in his price... he would't let the folks have the bees when he was done. His prices were 500 bucks to remove the bees. I called and asked him what he would charge to capture these bees and put them into provided equipment (our own boxes) and leave them for my folks to take care of. The price went to 900 bucks.

The folks would rather use electric heat and NOT use a fire vs. harm these bees in any way. Now that I am living in the same area as them, they asked me if I could gather them and keep them on their place. So here I set.


Thanks for any and all advice.
Mark
Mark Smith - Elkton, OR

Offline AllenF

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2010, 09:38:05 PM »
Can you take a guess on how far down the hive is from the top of the chimney.  If it is far down, you may have trouble trying to vac the bees out from between the comb.  You might could do a trap out with screen.   It would take longer, but be easier for you. There are several post here (pics too) on how to trap them with a screen funnel and your hive.  And later on this summer, clean that chimney and save that money on heating.

Offline marksmith

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2010, 09:42:53 PM »
Hive starts 10-12 inches from the top of the chimney. I have no clue how far down the chimney it extends.  This hive is for sure 3 years old.... but probably a little older than that.  The color of the comb that you can see from the top is nice and light.  I dont know if bees will build comb up, but it sure looks like they have built the top portion recently.
Mark Smith - Elkton, OR

Offline AllenF

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2010, 09:48:14 PM »
Then you should be able to get to them easy.   Take them out and hive them.  Couple of hours and you are a beekeeper.  Just don't fall off the roof.

Offline Irwin

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2010, 11:38:51 PM »
Hey Mark WELCOME  to the forum great people here  to help you out. :-D
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Offline JP

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2010, 11:53:09 PM »
This is what I would do. You say the colony is three years old and healthy. Your parents have waited three yrs already to use the fireplace.

I would hold off on removing them but place at least three swarm traps out, maybe one 50', 100' and say 200' from the house.

A healthy hive like this will throw off at least a few swarms every year. Catch some swarms and you will have some of their genetics.

A chimney removal is a tricky one, no guarentees you will get the queen, hopefully you will get brood comb with eggs and young larvae, but what if you don't?

I say catch some swarms, set them up, and then do the removal. That way if you just get bees and no queen or usable brood, you still have the genetics and you could combine the bees with the other colonies.


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Offline marksmith

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2010, 01:37:28 AM »
This method would allow me to trap them out maybe next spring.......


I know they are docile and easy going.  I was on top of the roof in a t-shirt and jeans to take off the weather cap, peer down the chimney to see what I could see.  They were investigating me, but never stung or buzzed me.

I have access to a bore scope with a 6' whip on it.  I might suit up tomorrow (weather permitting) and see exactly how far down the chimney they are.  I'll take pictures and post back.


Thanks for the help/ideas.  Last thing in the world I want to do is botch this up and lost the colony.


Mark
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Offline Irwin

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2010, 09:45:18 AM »
Hey Mark could you please update your profile with your location so people know about where you live. We will be able to help you better sense bee keeping is weather related. Just to let you all know I met Mark at the shop where I work he got his box's from us and a smoker and other stuff. And he is a really nice guy.
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Offline JP

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2010, 09:52:24 AM »
Mark, with trap outs, you rarely if ever get the queen to enter any of the catch boxes (according to Iddee, who has trapped out many a hive) and thus you are not saving the genetics of the colony.

Not sure if you were aware of this fact.

Bring on the pictures so we can have a look.


...JP
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Offline D Coates

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2010, 05:26:47 PM »
Rooting around a chimney does not sound like it's going to go well at all.  As soon as you start cutting away comb from above it going to get very messy and possibly screw up everything below.  If it was me try to grab a couple of swarms off it through the year then cork the bottom and trap out of the top.  Once the hive is empty then tear it out of there without worrying about getting messy, killing the queen or trying to extract brood.
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Online kathyp

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2010, 06:35:47 PM »
didn't someone do a chimney removal and post about it not to long ago?
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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2010, 08:19:39 PM »
something is at the bottom of the chimney?  like a fireplace?

if so, i'd be tempted to try and smoke them out into a cage (or hive).

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Offline wildbeekeeper

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2010, 10:36:04 PM »
I did a removal from a chimney a couple of years ago... the difference in mne was that the comb was attached to a chimney cap which I removed before starting.  I was able to get the comb out however it went down about 2 feet into the chimney.  As I took apart comb and vaccuumed off the bees the remaining comb was less and less supported and I eneded up having to hold onto section of comb as i was sucking bees off or trying to pry it from other combs....and it got very difficult with some of the heavier pieces filled wth honey and pollen.  If I had to do it all over again, AND it was someone that wante them gone yesterday, I would have fashioned and screened cover with a one way escape cone and place a hive body with comb and essentially do a trap out.  If you dont have any comb or anything, maybe just remove enough comb with brood and enough bees to get them started on a new queen and then set up the trap out. 

Offline Irwin

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2010, 11:39:27 PM »
Mark  I got the old comb for a swarm trap Please pm me and I will do what I can.
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Offline marksmith

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2010, 01:21:54 AM »
Will 'bee out' or whatever you call it (butyric acid) push the queen also?


How would it fair if I used a small fan in the flue under them, layed 'bee out' on a rag and pushed them into a hive I set over the chimney. I could use the feeder hole in the top of the hive for an escape and use a queen excluder to keep her from getting out.


I am going to go have a look and take pictures of exactly what I am up against just as soon as the weather breaks a little. 
Mark Smith - Elkton, OR

Offline Irwin

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2010, 10:52:38 AM »
Well people I'm off to mark's place Saturday to see what he has I'll take pic's and share them with you all.
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Offline Bee Happy

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2010, 11:29:23 AM »
I agree with the swarm capture idea. I messed up a cutout last summer/fall (If there's 60 ways to mess up a cut out I messed up 75 ways - starting with not having a bee vac). But I did learn that you can smoke a colony into absconding. So if you capture a couple swarms, definitely see if you can cut the rest out after. I'd follow lots of the other's advice about trapping swarms and possibly trapping them out first. As an absolute last resort after capturing swarms and maybe cutting them out - send lots (lots) of cool smoke up the chimney with a good clean out afterwards.
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Offline AllenF

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2010, 04:35:46 PM »
I can't wait for the pics

Offline Grandma_DOG

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2010, 09:07:35 PM »
A chimney cutout, during late spring? This is not going to have a happy ending.

If it were my parents house, post a swarm trap then tear it out in late late winter when the hive is mostly empty and have no expectations of getting them alive.
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Offline Irwin

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Re: Chimney Bees
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2010, 04:35:40 PM »
OK here are some pic's. The first two are of the chimney top #1 chimney that they are in. #2 front of chimney #3 bottom clean out #4 and 5 Are of Mark and his lovely Wife Lisa and there 2 kids #6 A dog in a car parked Next to us at the store. We didn't pop the cap today it was over cast and the bees probably would get a tad pissy. Hopefully more to come.   


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