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Author Topic: I'm tempted to start cutting into walls and trees for bees  (Read 4880 times)
TwoHoneys
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« on: August 11, 2010, 09:13:33 PM »

Last month I put my name on a swarm list, and I'll bet I get 4 calls a week...but not for swarms. I get calls from people saying they have bees "swarming" in their attics and doorframes and in trees. At first I simply replied that I don't do cut outs or trap outs...because I don't. I have no idea how to do these things.

But these calls persist, so twice this week I've decided to go take a look. Sure enough...loads of honeybees in odd, hot, places. And today I got another call (and a picture) of tons of bees in an old tree trunk.

So, I'm thinking maybe I should attempt to collect some of these. But, as I said, I have no idea what to do other than what I've seen done on some videos here and on YouTube and in pictures in ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture.

Is it advisable to just jump in there and try my hand at collecting some of these? I guess I can round up some people with carpentry skills to help, yes?

I'm a strong, 52-year old woman...I'm not as nimble on a ladder as I used to be, but I'm smarter. Smiley

Liz

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AllenF
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2010, 09:34:15 PM »

Just make sure you charge them enough for your time.
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TwoHoneys
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 09:39:26 PM »

Which brings up a very good question...how much do people charge, AllenF?
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 09:45:49 PM »

$300, 500, 250.   Call around in your area to see what they are getting.  Prices are all over the board and it depends in the job.  I think 300 is about average.   Some do it for free and they keep the market beat down.   Everyone expects you to do it for free, but what is your time worth?  At least 2 trips out, maybe 3?   Look at the equipment and fuel cost.
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 09:49:48 PM »

ahhh...old debate.  most people charge and i'll let them address that.  i don't.  i don't want a business, i don't want to deal with repairs and twitchy union contractors, and i want to be free to pick and choose what i'll do.  mostly i get old folks on farms smiley

is there someone in your area who does cutouts?  they might be willing to teach you.  if you don't have a contact, try calling the local pest removal companies.  many keep lists of beekeepers.  i know i'm on some.

if you are going to jump in, which i think is how most of us started, pick easy ones to start.  outbuildings are great.  places that are going to be torn down anyway, or are empty are also good choices.

i'd stay away from attics, roofs, and other stuff that looks like it's going to be a major project to get into until you have a better handle on things.
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2010, 09:56:26 PM »

No, NO, He77 NO, and HUN-UH...

Now, being a woman, you are going to do it anyway, so.....

Get with your local bee club and get 3 to 5 helpers. Only 1 or 2 of them will be ready when you need them, so have alternatives.

Then do as Kathy does. Scout them out before agreeing to anything. Do a few outbuildings or buildings that are scheduled to be torn down. After doing a few, you can decide if you want to advance to homes, businesses, and government complexes. Scaffolding, ladders, and bucket trucks should only be in the VERY distant future.

Do only those at belt to head high. ABSOLUTELY, DO NOT agree to do any repairs.

Charge 300 or more, depending on the job. 100 an hour with a 3 hour minimum is a good place to start.
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2010, 10:23:25 PM »

The other problem is that they typically have already sprayed them...
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TwoHoneys
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2010, 07:01:58 AM »

We're mostly suburban and city people around here...few out buildings on which to hone my new skills...but I appreciate the very sound advice to start with easier jobs.

So, I should decline the 4th-story attic job where the beard of bees is larger than most swarms? Guy says "they return every year for the past 5 or 6 years." That one's very hard to pass up. (Unless I can get to them simply by pulling back the insulation in the 150-degree attic with rotting wood floors). Okay. That one's a NO.

But I'll consider the waist-high rural bee tree covered with bees. It sort of takes my breath away to see it.

All the names on the bee-removal list from our local club have the "don't do cut outs" note beside them. I wrote that I collect swarms, but I didn't stipulate that I don't do cut outs...I guess that's why I'm getting so many calls. But all these calls following me around every day has me thinking that maybe I shouldn't so quickly turn my back on this stuff. I wish I could hang out with people who are busy doing these removals...I'd certainly be a good helper...but I don't know who they are!

Thanks, all, for your encouragement. I'll start small.

KathyP...I like your style. I wish you lived closer.

Iddee...I'm gonna make you happy and proud that you encouraged me. Smiley

Michael...if they've been sprayed but a strong remnant of them lived on, what do I need to keep in mind as I collect them?
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JP
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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2010, 10:09:59 AM »

I might as well chime in since I do a lot of removals. Everyone has given good advice, so I will mimic what they've said.

First and far most by all means if you can, tag along with someone who is experienced at removing them. Be their helper.

Most in your immediate area may not want you tagging along as you may be their competition one day. Call everyone until you find someone who doesn't mind you going along.

Wall voids are the easiest, if they're close to the ground, with one exception. If someone calls you to remove bees from a building with a brick exterior that has had bees for a very long time, yrs, I would most likely suggest you pass on it.

This type of set up can be very difficult as bees at some point (if they have the space) will build between the brick and the blackboard making for a most miserable removal experience.

Any single story building with wood siding is your best bet but external colonies are even better, like ones attached to the exterior of a tree.

Don't fool with bees that are inside of a tree, that's a no win situation. After you've done a bunch of removals you could try your hand at removing bees from a tree that is being cut down or one that has fallen but that should come much later on when you have a bunch of removals under your belt.

I don't care what anyone tells you, always and I mean always begin any removal with a few puffs from your smoker and keep it handy and lit. The smoker is a great tool on all removals. You don't need it on most swarm calls but to move them off or into a set up.

Look at the honey bee removal tool list in the honey bee removal section on this site.


Best of luck, have fun and take lots of pictures or video your experiences or we won't believe your stories.  grin

You got to show proof!  grin


...JP
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2010, 10:18:20 AM »

what list do you put your name on to get calls to get swarms?
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TwoHoneys
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2010, 11:27:21 AM »

JP...I love your videos. You're sooo calm. And funny. And I could listen to you talk all day long.

Tell me more...why not try to get bees from a tree? For instance, this guy has bees in a tree near a picnic area he rents out...but the bees make picnicking there no picnic. I don't know if he's willing to cut the tree down or not. But why not fashion a cone around the entrance and lead the exiting bees into a small split I've started...wait 4 or 5 weeks (like it says in ABC XYZ) etc.

Here's a picture:



Liz

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JP
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2010, 01:11:19 PM »

Liz, if you cannot remove comb sections that have eggs or very young larvae in order for the bees to make a new queen from, the genetics of the colony are not acquired.

Getting the queen to leave and catching her, good luck with that one.

If you want some extra bees to add to a weak hive, get all you want from the tree.

If a tree is not being cut down I don't take the job.

Its up to you if you want to do trap outs.

Don't forget the learning curve.

Add two-three weeks for that on top of the normal 5-6 weeks needed to do a trap out.

...JP
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TwoHoneys
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« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2010, 10:28:25 PM »

So I went to look at the bee tree. For some reason I thought I would end up at this guy's house, but I ended up at a HUGE company with a very nice picnic area in the back where employees eat lunch and take breaks...the bees from the tree have made the picnic area unpleasant. I told the guy in charge of the problem that I couldn't get the bees out of the tree unless they cut the tree down...it's a tall tree and mostly dead. He said, "Well. We can do that. Will you find an arborist and present a proposal for removal of both the tree and the bees?" 

I thought about it for a minute and said, "Sure." What the heck.

Can someone tell me how cooperative tree people are about these things? And what should I be thinking about when it comes to a project like this?

Liz

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« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2010, 10:45:52 PM »

If I were you I would be thinking about calling him back and telling him its a bit more than you want right now.  Serioulsy I would start with someting MUCH easier. An out building or a old abandonded house.  Even I am selective about trees.  I get calls from tree cutters often to come "remove" the bees so they can remove the tree.  Which means you will have to close up the opening, remove the top off from whatever part of the tree they are in yourself, rig the hive section of the tree for gentle lowering, guestimate the lower part of the hive and cut it off yourself then lower it to your truck, haul it home and then cut into it and remove the brood, catch the queen and tie it all into frames or pull nucs from it and install queens using the trapout method at home where its finacially and time feasable to do.  ninja
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iddee
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« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2010, 11:11:58 PM »

Let's have a few details. How high in the tree? How big and what shape is the hole? Can you drive up to the tree? Can a large bucket truck get to the tree? Once the tree is down, who cleans up the wood and brush?

Anything else you can think of that may help us help you.
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« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2010, 11:52:21 PM »

trees can be really tricky as others are telling you, however....if the bees entrance is low enough and you can go the night before and screen off the entrance and IF the guy cutting the tree will cut the entire section  out and load it in your truck to take home, it can be done.

that said, it's not something i'd do at this time of the year. your odds of saving it are slim, although if you left them in the tree section over the winter they might make it.  i just passed on one like yours.  a tree being removed and the cutter being willing to work with me.  it's just not worth it this late in the year.  and if they drop the section, it's all over anyway.
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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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TwoHoneys
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« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2010, 07:33:34 AM »

Details:

1. I'm terrible at guesstimating heights and distances and weights...but I'd say the tree is 30-40 feet tall. (I have a simple video of it shot from my phone and will try to figure out how to get it loaded here.)
2. The bees are quite low in the tree. The entrance is in a small slit in the trunk and probably 4-5 feet from the ground.
3. The section with the bees in it wouldn't have to fall at all...we could lay it down or leave it standing.
4. Yes, I can get a car to it, but I don't have a truck, so there's no way I'm hauling that sucker home. My people at home say "no crapping way."
5. Maybe I should find a beat-up truck. I've been wanting one anyway. Smiley
6. Why can't I tackle the removal on site? It's not populated, and I can access it easily, and I have a beekeeper wiling to help out. Can't I simply arrange to have the tree people cut until I get to bees, then we can do the removal where it stands? Or, we could lay the bottom section of the tree (where the bees are) down and work on it on the ground.
7.  Why is this any harder than a removal from a structure? I'm telling you, there are few vacant structures around here.
8. Sure, I'd love to start with easy jobs and work my way up, but this thing is landing right in my lap.
9. I guess the whole thing could wait until spring.
10. Who cleans up? Well, I'd be contracting the tree service, and the company where the tree's located is willing to pay for it, so I guess I contract with the tree people to remove it and build all the tree removal cost into the proposal.
11. And it seems like a great benefit to have guys on hand with all those chainsaws to help cut away the wood.

Seriously...help me out here because it feels as if I'm missing something...I can't quite figure out why dealing with a tree is harder than dealing with a house (at least this tree...where the bees are low in it and the owners are willing to cut the tree down). Is it because there are more variables to handle? I think it looks like fun, but not if I lose all the bees in it.

Here's the low-quality video:
Bee tree


Liz

« Last Edit: August 14, 2010, 07:49:19 AM by TwoHoneys » Logged

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AllenF
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« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2010, 08:29:16 AM »

How big is the hole in the tree?  If you can not see the hive, and if they can wait 4 to 5 weeks for the removal, trap them out and the tree can stay.  And it is easier to do.
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« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2010, 08:33:37 AM »

The only way you are going to save those bees is to leave them in the tree til spring. You can cut the tree now and take it home, to do the removal in the spring. You can leave them as they are and cut the tree in the spring. Otherwise, you will lose them.






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« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2010, 08:54:06 AM »

The other problem is that they typically have already sprayed them...


I agree!

I've had many homeowner get all righteous about helping nature and even commenting on the news recently about the plight of the honey bee....AFTER they tried killing them with poison sprayed into the hole. They suggest that they called me in wanting to help the bees and that I could "save" the bees, of course for free. The last guy got ticked off after such a scenario and I said on the phone the upfront fee would be 300 for me to stop over and take care of it. Seems he could not find his credit card so I could charge before I started the truck.  rolleyes

I think we as beekeepers need to be good stewards of the bees with the public in mind. But that does not mean we should be saps and be taken advantage of. Remember, we as a group are probably more sensitive to bees and the environment than the average homeowner who is just trying to get bees out of their home for nothing while stringing our emotions.

I just simply can not take a days worth of time to save bees for free every time I get a call. It costs me not only in lost time and production from my business, but there are actual costs also involved in getting the bees, such as gas, etc. When I compare my families pockets and the future plans for my kids, it is very easy for me to walk away from some homeowner living in a half million dollar home who wants me to spend the day alleviating a problem he has with bees, for nothing more than the value of the bees. They are not "invaluable" as some may suggest. They are worthless to me until they survive a year and build up into a productive hive, or I spend the time requeening and taking care of them. Both of which will require many hours and costs along the way.
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