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Author Topic: Chimney Bees  (Read 4616 times)
marksmith
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« on: April 12, 2010, 08:23:13 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
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Mark Smith - Elkton, OR
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2010, 08:38:05 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.
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marksmith
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2010, 08:42:53 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.
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Mark Smith - Elkton, OR
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2010, 08:48:14 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.
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Irwin
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2010, 10:38:51 PM »

Hey Mark WELCOME  to the forum great people here  to help you out. grin
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2010, 10:53:09 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.


...JP
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2010, 12:37:28 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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Mark Smith - Elkton, OR
Irwin
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2010, 08:45:18 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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JP
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2010, 08:52:24 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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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2010, 04:26:47 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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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2010, 05:35:47 PM »

didn't someone do a chimney removal and post about it not to long ago?
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2010, 07:19:39 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).

deknow
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2010, 09:36:04 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. 
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Irwin
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2010, 10:39:27 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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marksmith
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« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2010, 12:21:54 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. 
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Mark Smith - Elkton, OR
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« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2010, 09:52:38 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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« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2010, 10:29:23 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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« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2010, 03:35:46 PM »

I can't wait for the pics
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« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2010, 08:07:35 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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Irwin
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« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2010, 03:35:40 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.   


http://picasaweb.google.com/irwin453/MarkSmith#
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Irwin
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« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2010, 04:51:33 PM »

By the way mark only 104 miles round trip not bad grin
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marksmith
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« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2010, 06:58:27 PM »

I thank you again for the drawn frames for the swarm traps.

I am going to definately get a couple swarms off this colony before I try anything drastic... for insurance above anything else. Hopefully I can gather a couple swarms this season without much trouble.

It was good seeing you and the better half today. I really appreciate it.  I forgot to show ya the Robo inspired bee vac that was setting in the garage.  Works like a charm. (not too sure the yellow jackets that I vacuumed up appreciate it... but hey! It had to be tested somehow!!)
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Mark Smith - Elkton, OR
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« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2010, 06:38:31 PM »

UPDATE:

I popped the top of the chimney off today for a look.  I saw NO bees to speak of.  There were 20-30 that I saw total.  The inside is wall to wall comb. Dad has a bore scope w/ 6' of lead on it.  I poked and worked my way 6' down the hive without so much as hearing a buzz. There are empty cells everywhere and what looks like bee butts sticking out of a bunch of them.

I have pictures of the top of the chimney... I will see if I can get a moderator to post them up for me.



Thanks
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Mark Smith - Elkton, OR
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« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2010, 06:47:25 PM »

That's a shame.   Is there and honey left in any of the comb?
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marksmith
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« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2010, 07:13:59 PM »

No honey or anything for the 6' that I could see with a bore scope.

Odd thing is there has been a fairly good show of bees in the last couple weeks saying they were still home.

Whats the chances that the top of this hive was 'abandoned' and their actual hive is further down the chimney? 
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Mark Smith - Elkton, OR
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« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2010, 07:19:48 PM »

You may have just been robbed.
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« Reply #26 on: April 19, 2010, 07:21:53 PM »

the entire hive may have absconded.  or it may have swarmed and been to weak to fend off robbers....    warm day?  no activity?  no bees. 

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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #27 on: April 19, 2010, 07:30:19 PM »

On a warm day (yesterday, day before) there were bees coming and going.  I wasn't on top looking @ numbers but I'd say at any given time there were 30-50 bees hovering and crawling on the chimney that I could see.



I guess I will just have to keep an eye on things.

This is the album of the photos I took today.

Photos here


Thanks
Mark
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Mark Smith - Elkton, OR
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« Reply #28 on: April 19, 2010, 07:37:00 PM »

that older comb looks like it's been abandoned for awhile.  wonder if you just saw some robbing activity, or scouts looking for a new home.  probably a good idea to clean that out before you do have a swarm move in.

might someone have tried to smoke them out from the below?
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #29 on: April 19, 2010, 07:45:58 PM »

No chance of smoking out from below.  The folks have had this place going on 3 years. Last summer they showed the same activity level as I saw yesterday and the day before... but the smell of honey was so strong the inside of the house smelled of honey.

Todays weather was overcast with the threat of rain.  About 15 degrees cooler than yesterday.  Could they be further down the chimney?  Matter of fact, yesterday I watched 3 honey bees take to a yellowjacket that was nearing the enterance. They landed on him, drug him to the deck where I was standing, and few back to the hive entrance. 

This sound like robbing?

I'll wait for another nicer day and take pictures of the entrance activity.



Thanks everyone for their help.  I really appreciate it.

Mark


PS... where do I pick up package bees this time of year in Oregon?  I seriously want a hive of bees to work up.
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Mark Smith - Elkton, OR
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« Reply #30 on: April 19, 2010, 07:48:56 PM »

I'd even say stick to the swarm traps for a while too, I saw the live bee in the pic and I couldn't see any harm in having one around, just in case.
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« Reply #31 on: April 19, 2010, 07:52:50 PM »

i don't know about a package.  it's kind of late, but you might still be able to find nucs.  i'd start scouting beekeeping places on the internet and see what you can find.  also, try putting a wanted add on craigslist.  i have seen people selling hives and nucs on there.

put your name out for swarms.  the bees are just now going on the crops, and those bees always swarm.  

can you run that scope up from the bottom and see what's in there.  maybe there are some still in there. robbers don't protect a hive.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #32 on: April 20, 2010, 08:21:36 AM »

Mark give the beehive a call my boss is going to bring nuc's back from California you may be able to get one or two.

p.s I got some old ten frame stuff that needs some TLC if you want it just let me know.
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« Reply #33 on: April 21, 2010, 09:52:11 AM »

Sit up on the roof for a little while and see if the incoming bees are bringing in pollen. Looks to me like they starved out over the winter. There could be just a very tiny cluster of bees that did make it through the winter. If you are going to do a cut out now would be the time, less mess to deal with. Save the old drawn comb and use it in a swarm trap.

Put no. 8 mesh hardware cloth over the chimney to keep the bees out, they can not pass through it.

Irwin cheer good job on lending a helping hand, what a guy!!

G3
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« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2010, 07:00:32 PM »

 Undecided Not very many bees.  Its 65 and beautifully sunny.... about 12 bees.  And I'm afraid they might be 12 bees from another hive coming to scope it out.



Anyhow.  Looks like I found a couple nucs that will be here @ the end of the month.  I'll start with those nucs and see how it goes.


Thanks everyone for their help.  It wasn't all a bust. I have 2 5 frame nucs, 2 deeps with 2 frames of drawn comb, and a home built Robo style bee-vac.

Not a bad start for a newbee.


Thanks again.
Mark
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