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Author Topic: New Beekeeper Robo Vac questions  (Read 1151 times)
AHultin
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« on: June 26, 2012, 11:42:15 PM »

Hello All,
We have been an involuntary beekeeper for about a yr and a half. We have had 2 (possibly three) feral colonies for this time that initially I hoped would go away on there own, then came to enjoy the increased avocado production, to where we are today. I started doing research at the request of the spousal unit who felt the locations of our grove managers where not optimum. I had a local beekeeper come out and help me with the first cutout a couple weeks ago in the fifth wheel hitch which went well so decided to try my luck. They had used the box within a box vac and I followed them home to watch them "install" the bees which seemed crazy. After a little searching I saw the Robo vac and it seemed like a better solution.

This weekend I made the attempt at colony 2. This one was in the enclosed soffit on the back side of our house. As we had only seen activity here for a month or so i thought it would be a safe start. I was wrong. As I opened the soffit up I discovered the colony 16" wide by 18" tall by 3' deep!. I had the robo vac setup on a deep hive body loaded with ten frames. Started at 10am and kept going and going. Pulled off three combs worth of honey that I handed to the wife. pull two more combs that where all honey that I set aside then got into the brood comb. got enough out to fill 8 deep frames. When I was done I but the deep hive body on the cutout shim then slowly pulled the shim.

When I went to check on it all the next morning I had massive amounts of dead bees. They where piled in the bottom, piled on top of the bottom frames (the shim) and on top. Any clue with what i have described what went wrong? I pulled them again this morning and there are more dead, not as many as before but still quit a few. Any ideas what is going wrong?
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G3farms
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2012, 02:46:34 AM »

A couple of things can kill the bees in the vac.

1. Too much suction, this is a huge killer of the bees. Use only enough to get them into the hose. If you are sucking them up and it sounds like marbles banging down the hose they will be dead (mostly broken in half) by the time they hit the hive body.

2. Over heating, this is also a huge killer of the bees. If you used only enough suction to get them into the hive body they need air to stay alive. If I turn my vac off I pull the top sliding panel out immediately. Give them some water, use a spray bottle, dribble it over the screen from a straw, shake a little in from a water bottle. Not only do they drink it but spread it around and fan it to cool the hive. Over heated bees will look greasy.

3. Sucking up nectar and honey it a killer also. Bees can become coated in sticky nectar and honey with no way to clean themselves and more or less suffocate. Care should be taken when using the vac on the face of honey comb, especially when filled with nectar, the vac will suck it out of the comb coating the inside of your hose and all of the bees that enter the hose. I have stopped and washed out the end of my hose before. You will find bees all coated with the sticky stuff in a wad on the bottom of the vac.

I guess this is telling on myself, and yes I have killed what looked like the whole cut out before, very sad after you spend all day trying to save a hive of bees.
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see my swarms and cut outs at https://www.youtube.com/user/soapy22bullet?feature=mhee

those hot bees will have you steppin and a fetchin like your heads on fire and your @ss is a catchin!!!

Bees will be bees and do as they please!
D Semple
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2012, 09:01:19 AM »

Great post George.

With the Robo vac I also find it helps a ton to use a completely empty box (no frames) on the bottom with the vacuum. I just remove it from the hive after 3 days when I also change to a convention bottom board. Don't wait any longer than that though or they will start building comb in the empty box.

2 1/2" smooth interior hose also helps.

Don
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David McLeod
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2012, 10:06:16 AM »

George nailed it. The bushkill beevac is the greatest thing since sliced bread but it can be a bee killer if you don't open up the bypass and you fill the thing with honey.
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Georgia Wildlife Services,Inc
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Robo
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 10:53:12 AM »

With the Robo vac I also find it helps a ton to use a completely empty box (no frames) on the bottom with the vacuum.

Just be forewarned,  if you don't put frames under the cut-out shim,  you may experience the screen collapsing from the weight of the bees clustered on it while removing it.  With screen installed it is supported on all 4 sides.  When you start removing it,  it is only supported on 3 sides and can buckle from the bees hanging on it.  If it buckles and falls out of the track, it will jam.   If this does happen, I suggest leaving it in the partially removed position and continuing as usual.  The bees will find their way through the opening over time.  To avoid this issue,  I suggest placing frames in the bottom box, even empty frames.   This will prevent the bees from clustering in large amounts from the screen.

FYI... I have an improved design in the works and JP is testing/using a prototype.   I still have manufacturabilty issues to address before it will be available. 

Rob..
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tefer2
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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2012, 01:59:03 PM »

Hey Rob, please post a message when the improved version is ready. Can't believe there is much you can change to make a great product better. Maybe JP can post us a video on the test results ? How about it JP ?
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G3farms
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« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2012, 04:39:01 PM »

I think what Don was saying is to put an empty box under your box of frames, to give them more room.

I vacuumed up a huge swarm from a craw space with a five framer and had to take several breaks to let them move up onto the foundation. I did figure out that if I tilted the vac up (with the suction hose from the box to the bees pointing downward) that the bees would move up a little faster, and since I was in a dark craw space I would put a small flashlight on the top screen after removing the sliding top to get them to move up even faster.

I have noticed when vacuuming up a swarm to start at the bottom and work your way up. Most times the bees on the bottom are holding onto the bees above instead of a wall or branch. I found this to be kind of strange behavior but for the most part holds true.

When you start loosing suction make sure the hose is not plugged full of bees, give it a little shake or put your hand over the end of the hose to clear it.
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see my swarms and cut outs at https://www.youtube.com/user/soapy22bullet?feature=mhee

those hot bees will have you steppin and a fetchin like your heads on fire and your @ss is a catchin!!!

Bees will be bees and do as they please!
AHultin
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2012, 04:41:51 PM »

I had the bypass a little over half open. I am thinking i was guilty of #2 and 3 from above. What I thought would take me two cool morning hours ended up taking me six and a half hours through the heat. I was dehydrated so I am sure the bees where. I also do notice quite a bit of honey residue lining the vac hose  huh

It now appear whatever didnt die from my escapade have left Sad, What should i do with the brood from the cutout until I attempt the third colony cutout?
 
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mdbee
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« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2012, 10:33:00 AM »

Robo,
I hope we will be able to update our vac with your improved design.
                                     
                                 Thanks,
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D Semple
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« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2012, 10:38:39 AM »

It now appear whatever didnt die from my escapade have left Sad, What should i do with the brood from the cutout until I attempt the third colony cutout?
 

If you or a friend has another hive, you can give them the brood, capped brood is pretty resilient and some of it will survive.

You mentioned that you thought heat was a problem; the nice thing about Rob's great design is that you can open up the sliding top to give the bee’s air and sprits of water when you’re taking long breaks during the removal and for transporting the bees later. For short breaks, or inactivity while you’re putting up brood comb, I just leave the vacuum running all the time with the hose sucking end left in the shade so cooler air is being circulated throughout the hive. For really large removals, extra screened cutout shims will let you reunite vacuumed bees with brood comb, multiple times during the removal.

Don't beat yourself up, bees have it tough and we do our best to save all we can. I had a removal about a month ago where the only way I could get to a new swarm of bees that had moved into a coffered ceiling was to use 8' of hard extension tubing with a 90 degrees hard plastic elbow on the end and I accidentally killed 1000's.

Good luck with the 3rd colony, watch more videos of how JP, schawee, and Scott and Peg (Hardwood) do it. Now that you have some experience the little finesse things they do will really make sense.
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Robo
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« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2012, 11:19:13 AM »

Hey Rob, please post a message when the improved version is ready. Can't believe there is much you can change to make a great product better. Maybe JP can post us a video on the test results ? How about it JP ?


You can get a glimpse of one of the prototypes in the last video -> http://beevac.com/videos/
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David McLeod
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« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2012, 01:07:17 PM »

Robb, I have replaced the shim screen with a propolis trap trimmed down on the sides, the wire was getting pretty beat up. It has worked quite well and I actually get much fewer bees drug through the slot when removing the trap as opposed to the wire which seems to grab so many little legs and body parts.
The flexibility of both the wire and trap though is still and issue, though the smooth trap does not jam like the wire. I have thought about adding a crosspiece running longways to at least the bottom of the shim to add support.
Other issues, I have had to replace the rotating door for the hose as it would drop below the bottom of the box and take a beating when the vac shifted. I just cut a piece of masonite and try not to let it flop around and get smacked. I have an idea for resolving this with a self closing cabinet hinge and may try to make up a bottom to see how it works.
Robb, do you sell the bottoms and shims seperately? My biggest issue has to do with doing multiple cut outs back to back. When I off load a cut out I like to leave them closed up 24-48 which means the bottom and shim are tied up for that long, the top can come off if you use a screened inner cover between the top unit and the hive. Maybe build a two piece top unit with the bottom screen being a screened inner cover? Multiple inners and you're still good to go for the next cut out.
Maybe I should just ask if I could get a bulk deal on them, LOL.
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Georgia Wildlife Services,Inc
Georgia's Full Service Wildlife Solution
Atlanta (678) 572-8269 Macon (478) 227-4497
www.atlantawildliferemoval.net
georgiawildlifeservices@gmail.com
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