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Author Topic: Fuzzybeekeepers Great Adventure  (Read 1388 times)
fuzzybeekeeper
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Location: Brenham, Texas


« on: September 24, 2005, 04:27:58 AM »

What a Week!

I am writing this at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning while I am working at an elementary school hosting 150 evacuees from the Houston area.  We are about 90 miles northwest of Houston and some of these people were in their car for almost 48 hours traveling the 120 miles from the costal area.  The spots you saw on the TV about interstates 10 and 45 looking like parking lots were true and accurate.  One of our local parents took one and a half hours to travel 8 miles to pick up her children from school and we are quite a ways from Houston.

ANYWAY....

This is giving me a chance to start my saga of my Great Adventure.

Only this one is totally true and I have the pictures to prove it.  I just can't get the photos up tonight 'cause they are in my camera at home.  So I'm just going to start and then continue tomorrow when I can get the photos loaded.

It all started when the students at one of the local elementary schools saw a bees nest about 30 feet up in a tree.  Being children, they did the natural thing and threw rocks at them.  Being bees, they did the equally natural thing and stung the children.

Results....Big Bad Bees must go!

BUT....you cannot destroy the bees.  (Yea!)  They are not endangered but they ARE protected.  If you kill them, you will mess up the ecology.  However, they MUST be removed.

I am the computer techncion for the high school so the Pest Managemet Specialist called me and asked me to come look at the nest.

When I got there, I couldn't believe what I saw.  The nest was on the outside of the tree.  The combs were about 2 feet high and about 1 foot wide.  There were about 10 combs covered with bees.  I wish I could post a photo here, but you will just have to wait.  Just imagine something about the size of a 5 gallon bucket attached to the tree.

I told them that I was NOT about to climb a ladder 30 feet in the air to work on the nest.  I said that I had to have a lift or "cherry picker" type machine to lift me up there.  They surprised me and said OK.  They didn't have much choice except to cut down the tree and then they would still have to deal with the bees.

Well, I was scheduled to take the bees on Saturday, Sept. 24.  That's today.  As it turned out, hurricane Rita decided to blow in on Saturday so I knew I didn't want to work them that morning.  In case you didn't follow too closely, on Monday before the storm, the projected line went right through Brenham (my town) and we were projected to have winds of near 100 miles per hour.  

So, I decided to work them on Wednesday before the storm.

The day of the extraction came and I showed up at the school around 2 p.m. with all of my equipment plus lots more.  I had built a bee vac out of an old vacume cleaner and a 5 gallon bucket.  That will be a whole other post because it worked great but I have a few questions about what happened.

The lift was there and we got everything laid out.  I went up to the nest and cut a few of the vines and branches away so I could see the nest better.  Then we settled down and waited for school to be released and all of the students to leave.

I usually wear a pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt  and then put my overalls and veil and gloves on over that.  I thought that these guys wouldn't be too happy so I decided to wear TWO pairs of jeans and TWO long sleeve shirts and then my overalls.  If this had happened on Saturday morning when it is normally 70 degrees these days, things would have been fine.

Unfortunately, since we moved it to the afternoon, it was 100 degrees.  Needless to say, after an hour of wearing all the clothes and moving around like I was, I got a little overheated and had to come down just before I was going to get started.  I spend about half an hour OUT of most of my clothes and being splashed with cold water.  After that I put on my normal one layer of clothes under my overalls and I felt great.  The bees were very docile and I only got stung once the whole 7 hour ordeal and one of those was when I stopped to rest and took my veill.

Ok....the rest of the story won't be near as impressive without photos so I am going to stop now so I can continue when I can get my photos up.

I'll just wet your appitite by saying I have never seen a nest like this one before and no one has posted a photo like this on any forum that I have seen.  

So...tune in next time....same bee adventure, same bee place, same bee channel.....for the continuing adventures of FUZZYBEEKEEPER!
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Jay
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2005, 09:27:38 PM »

Fuzzybeekeeper, did the nest look like this one?




This was a swarm near me in Acton, Ma which never found a suitable home, so they just made their home in the tree they swarmed to. About 50 feet up I might add!! shocked
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By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to Aprils breeze unfurled
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world
-Emerson
bassman1977
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2005, 12:51:04 AM »

Wow!  Is that cool or what?!?!?
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fuzzybeekeeper
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Location: Brenham, Texas


« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2005, 11:11:42 AM »

Welcome back for Part 2 of Fuzzybeekeepers Great Adventure!

When we last left Fuzzybeekeeper, he had just admited that he had gotten overheated because he was wearing three layers of clothes on a 100 degree day.  Oh well, nobody said he was too smart!

Anyway, once I 'revived', I got redressed and felt fine.  I went back up in the lift and started working on the nest.  

Here is what the nest looked like before I started working on it.






Yes, Jay, that's about how it looked.


I started vacuming the bees up and my vacume worked great.  The bees were really docile and easy to work with.  I spent about 15 minutes with the vacume and then started cutting comb.  

Unfortunately, the combs were vertical and the outside few were empty.  I cut out the empty combs and dropped them into a 5 gallon bucket to be reworked.  When I got to some brood, I mounted it in frames with plastic slip-ties  They worked pretty good except for the ends that were left sticking out.  I had to cut off the ends later so the frames would go together.
 



Most of the combs I came to were honey.  Very little brood in the combs.  I did find a few patches of eggs so I made sure I put them in a frame.  As I will state later, I don't think I got the queen but I am hoping they can raise a queen from these eggs.



I spent from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. working the combs.  I would vacume some bees and then cut some comb.  I got two 5 gallon buckets of comb and honey and a medium frame of brood and eggs.  The eggs wern't covered in bees the whole time, but since it was literally 100 degrees outside I think they stayed warm enough.



After a while, I switched to my second storage bucket for my bee vac and pretty well filled it up with bees, too.  



After a couple of hours I got most of the outside combs off and found a hole in the trunk where the original nest must have started.  



I could get my arm inside and took a lot of brood out of there.  I took out as much as I could reach.   My arm was inside the hole up to my elbow and I could still feel more comb but I couldn't get it out and it was getting dark and I needed to get on so I had to leave it.  I don't think I got the queen because I am sure she was behind the comb in the hole.

Because the purpose of working this nest was to get rid of it, I had to close off the hole.  I stuffed a piece of screen wire about three foot by 8 foot into the hole and applied several layers of foam over the screen.  



Here I am in the lift.



I then took the whole mess and loaded it into my car (a Dodge Caravan with all the seats out) and moved it home.  I set up the boxes and poured the bees over the top and got home about 9 p.m.  

The next afternoon I went back and cleaned up the hive and tied them down for Rita.  This is my 'harem' with my home in the background.  The blurry spot in the photo is where honey got on the lens of my camera.



All in all, it was an exciting experience.  I've learned a lot and would LOVE to do it again.

My greatest regret is not getting the queen.  I'm 99.9% sure I didn't.  I just hope they can raise one from the eggs.  I'd love to have a queen with her genes.  To have a hive that large and still be that easy-going would be wonderful.  I'm going to check in a couple of days and if I don't find queen cells, I'll go get a queen from Weavers.  They are only 20 miles from here.

I want to thank Mike and Dave for showing up to help.  It was nice to have some fellow beekeepers around to help in case something went wrong.  Also, thanks to Jay from this forum for his information on posting these photos.  His instructions were simple and easy to follow.

I'm sure I will have more thoughts later and will add them as they pop into my fool head.  

And so ends Fuzzybeekeepers Great Adventure.
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fuzzybeekeeper
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Location: Brenham, Texas


« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2005, 03:51:17 PM »

An additional thought.....

Since there has been quite a bit of 'airtime' on this forum about beekeeper good will and public relations, I am planning on taking some of the comb and honey from these bees up to the school where the nest was and do a little demonstration on honey bees and their benefits.  I hope to have a little honey for each student to taste (does anyone know where I can get a couple of hundred 'straws' of honey at a bulk rate?) and I would love to take an observation hive to them.  I have used a 10 gallon aquarium before with deep frames as an obsservation hive.  I guess it will work with medium frames, too.  I could just put a board in the bottom.

Anyway, as an educator, I felt that would bring things full circle and help the students understand the importance of bees.

If any of you have good ideas for elementary demonstrations, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Fuzzybeekeeper
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bassman1977
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Location: Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania


« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2005, 04:21:32 PM »

Check out www.draperbee.com for the honey stix.  They have a lot of flavored stuff (blueberry etc.), but I did notice that they have clover as well.
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Jay
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Location: Concord, MA


« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2005, 06:14:01 PM »

There are some very usefull posters from Maxant available at Betterbee that I have found invaluable while doing presentations.







They are pretty short money for the information they provide and are in full color! Cheesy
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By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to Aprils breeze unfurled
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world
-Emerson
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