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Author Topic: My Bee Bucket Vac  (Read 7033 times)
Moots
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« on: March 16, 2013, 09:17:22 PM »

Decided to build me a Bee Vac...I know there's a lot of different options and each has it's advantages and disadvantages.  decided to start with the basic 5 gallon bucket vac concept, I like the ease of portability of the bucket style.  In an effort to minimize the number of pieces of equipment that need to be toted around, I came up with some slight modifications to others I've seen...

I purchased the shop vac from Lowe's that attaches to the top of a 5 gallon bucket.  I removed the bottom 5" of the bucket that holds the vacuum and mounted it on an inverted 5 gallon bucket with numerous holes in the bottom.  I also removed the filter cage housing from the vacuum.  This in essence gave me one air tight bucket with two tops.  The open end holds my 5 gallon bucket which has been screened to house the bees.  I drilled a few extra holes in the original intake fitting to reduce the flow rate and threw on a shoulder strap to make toting it easy.

Still hoping I find a swarm or a cutout to give it a try.

Pretty much just bought all the supplies, with the exception of the hardware cloth that I already had...

Probably have around $75 in it....

3 buckets and Lid: $10.00
Vacuum: $24.00
15' Super-flex Vacuum hose: $26.00
Pop rivets and fittings: $14.00






« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 09:29:05 PM by Moots » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2013, 11:59:34 PM »

Awesome job Moots....Haven't thought of getting in to the whole removal thing yet so i haven't looked at a lot of designs, but that looks really good... Have you sucked a few bees out the yard to ensure that is got enough to suck them up, but not to much suction that its killing them?  Now i'm gonna want to play around with one of these...SMH
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2013, 01:54:55 AM »

I like it. A video of it in use is in the future I assume. Any issue seperating the two halves after suction is applied? Plastic buckets "stick" easily. 

I almost forgot this
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2013, 03:25:23 AM »

moot vacum is a great tool but plan on shaking your swarms if at all posible. i have had a vacum for several yrs and love it but have never vacumed a swarm
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2013, 05:00:02 AM »

B, Thanks...Haven't done any test runs on live bees.  However, I did a retrieval the other day with a member of our local bee club and used his bee vac, so I think I got a pretty good idea of where the suction level has to be set...still itching for a good opportunity to find out.

hjon71, I'll be sure and get some video of it in action, if and when I get a chance to put it to use...Can't imagine bucket separation being an issue,  once you stop the vacuum, the vacuum bucket allows air in, no chance of it forming a suction. 

Bud, I hear you.  Smiley
Just a tool I wanted to have as an option in my tool chest.  I'm wanting a swarm so bad, I just didn't want to come across a situation suited for a vacuum and be caught without.  You know, some things don't lend themselves well to shaking....eves of houses, large vehicles, etc. In cases such as those, I just don't think I'm quite ready to do the JP and Scott style move of scooping hand full's of bees.  grin
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2013, 10:42:06 AM »

Moots, I put a 10 frame box on top of a step ladder, took a soft bristle shop broom with an extendable handle and brushed from edges to middle of swarm and they fell into box.  I also take a rope sometimes can throw a rope over limb and shake.  Just some options.  Now may have to make vac one of these days too.  Looks good.  Good luck and you'll get a swarm or cutout soon.




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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2013, 03:08:33 PM »

on the hand scooping; gona try and get them to show me how they do that at the meeting. but you dont have to use your hands . a large cup or can works great on scooping them off a surface. if allan gets to come just wait till you see him handling them at night.
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2013, 07:23:11 PM »

I'll spend some quality one-on-one with ya Bud...ya big liar grin
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2013, 08:08:55 PM »

Good looking vac.   Lets see a video of it in use.   
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« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2013, 07:01:01 PM »

I use the Owens Bee Vac I purchased from Brushy mountain bee farm.
I have vacuumed several clusters of bees on tree limbs or on walls of buildings.
The main thing is make sure your vacuum is just where it will lift a bee into the hose.
Use a hose with a smooth inner wall.
Do not use any syrup spray, it will cause the bees to be a thick glob in the cage which will smoother them.
I wouldn't take a Purdy for mine.
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2013, 10:36:28 AM »

Moots, you did an awesome job with the vac and with the screen sides it does give them more room to move upwards and something to hold onto than with a typical bucket style vac. If you are experiencing high mortality rates turn the vac horizontally if possible. This will allow the bees more room to spread out.

The problem with a bucket style design is the bees tend to pile up on each other and are unable to spread out because the catch box is vertical and the sides are slick. This is most critical as it gets warmer out. Bees get stressed, over heat and regurgitate, which leads to high mortality rates.

Hands down best bucket style vac I've seen.


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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2013, 11:08:47 AM »

forgot moot shore looks good i want one; bring yo stuff you need to the meeting and do a demo as figure a lot o people would like to see how you did it and promise to have you something to try it on. got a great cut out for kathy p here and she not gona bee gready as larry has never done a cut out or you either so she gona let you boys do it while she and one of my kids (jp, shawee, dallas, scott, baily, nate or martin) supervise.  wil get ken to post the pictures fo me
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Moots
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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2013, 11:22:41 AM »

forgot moot shore looks good i want one; bring yo stuff you need to the meeting and do a demo as figure a lot o people would like to see how you did it and promise to have you something to try it on. got a great cut out for kathy p here and she not gona bee gready as larry has never done a cut out or you either so she gona let you boys do it while she and one of my kids (jp, shawee, dallas, scott, baily, nate or martin) supervise.  wil get ken to post the pictures fo me

Bud,
Sounds great, thanks....

Can't tell you how forward I'm looking to Bud5...It won't be too much longer!  grin
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2013, 12:35:00 PM »

Very nice motts

Mine is very similar to that except i have a valve on the outer bucket to adjust suction pressure. They work great. But like JP said it works better to lay it side ways to help the bees spread out. And maybe think about building a second bucket to swap out for those big cutouts.
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« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2013, 05:47:35 PM »

guv  always have an extra. mine is a big square and screned on all sides except bottom. and done had to put them in front seat with ac blowing on them to get them home
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2013, 10:27:23 AM »

JP,
Thanks for the compliments and advice regarding my bee vac, both are appreciated.  Smiley 

I tried to incorporate as much screened area as possible while still allowing the bucket to maintain it's structural integrity/  While it doesn't show in the pictures, that includes the majority of the bottom of the bucket being screened.  My wanting to use that top mounted vac is really what drove my concept to being made to operate in a horizontal position, but the thought did occur to me that it also may be advantages, regarding space for the bees....both glad and encouraged to see you're in agreement.

Gov,
A second bucket is definitely on my to do list.  My first was really a learning experience...Installing the wire mesh into the bucket was a bit of a challenge because of the tapper of the bucket.  I got it to work, but I'm still not convinced there's not a better way. LOL!

I also haven't added anything to easily adjust the suction...still giving that some thought.  Currently, I think I have it tuned pretty good by just leaving the original intake fitting on the vacuum end installed and open.  I've actually drilled a few more small holes in it to further reduce it a little.  One option is to open or seal those holes via duct tape for fine tuning.  I've also toyed with the idea of a ball valve, but it almost seems like that's over thinking it and making it more involved than it needs to be.

I'm anxious to field test it!  grin
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2013, 05:37:35 PM »

I just built one today, I liked the idea so much. I cut a 1 1/2" circle out of some of the scrap plastic, then used it like a sliding flap over some small holes drilled in the vac lid close to the hose. I attached it with a 10-32 screw and nut,(off center)  that way I can slide it over exposing some of the holes and reduce the suction. Seems it will work really well.  Cant wait for a chance to try it
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« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2013, 11:34:53 AM »

I use the Owens Bee Vac from Brushy Mountain on a cutout two weeks ago and was not happy with the death rate.  At least a 1/3 of the bees died.  Emil from Central Texas Bee loves this vacume so I know it has to be the way I adjusted the vac power.  In hindsight I think I should have gone with the bee vac type JP is currently using, however, I have a Owens and I'm going to learn to use it safetly.   Hard lesson thouth. 
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« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2013, 12:11:26 PM »

I just built one today, I liked the idea so much. I cut a 1 1/2" circle out of some of the scrap plastic, then used it like a sliding flap over some small holes drilled in the vac lid close to the hose. I attached it with a 10-32 screw and nut,(off center)  that way I can slide it over exposing some of the holes and reduce the suction. Seems it will work really well.  Cant wait for a chance to try it

Fish,
Sounds like you have some small holes. Depending on the vacuum you use, you want to open it up enough so that when you put your hand over the suction end,you just barely  feel the suction. I have a 1 3/4" hole plus the a 16" x 1/8" slot where the divider screen goes, on my bee vac. The first time I used this one, I didn't have it finished because I needed the right size drill bit for my alternate vacuum. I killed half of a very large swarm.
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« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2013, 03:15:30 AM »

Sawdust.

     Yes the holes are small enough that no chance a bee will escape through the "valve" area. I can simply slide the little cover I made over as needed to reduce vacuum as needed exposing a couple or many of the holes. It is in the same lid as the hose is attached.  Once I had it assembled, I turned it on, and it has very low suction already, but I wanted the way to adjust if needed.
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« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2013, 11:53:28 AM »

OK. Just concerned. The biggest killer of bees being killed by this method is the amount of suction.The second biggest killer is heat.
Jim
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« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2013, 06:17:22 PM »

I appreciate it Sawdust,   I had to borrow one last year, and from what I saw from that commercial one, I think this one is a good design shown on here.  I sure do not want to kill any if I get a chance at some more!!!
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« Reply #22 on: May 28, 2013, 12:40:50 PM »

Would like to Thank Moots for posting this and answering questions.
Just finished building one just like it and I can get the suction down super low and with the other bucket in between i cant imagine having any trouble with heat....     Smiley  Great design.   Now cant wait to use it.
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« Reply #23 on: May 28, 2013, 04:52:19 PM »

B,
You're quite welcome...glad it worked out.

I hadn't looked at this thread in quite a while, just realizing I hadn't ever posted back since putting the vac to use.  Anyway, thought I give a follow up report...

I've used the bee-vac to vacuum up 5 swarms this season, to the best of my memory.  I can honestly say, I don't think I've had 5 dead bees total.  I've been super pleased with the way the vacuum has worked and attribute the low mortality rate to following a few basic bee vac rules.  

First, I keep the suction very low.  Second, I never leave the catch container in the vac without running the vac to keep the air flow moving.  Third, as Bud suggested, I put my catch container on the front seat with the A/C cranked for the ride home to keep them as cool as possible.

And forth....I get them hived ASAP!
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 07:47:24 AM by Moots » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: June 03, 2013, 08:25:31 AM »

Thanks Moots,

I made one this weekend and it worked well.  Easy rainy day project.

Only thing I think I may need to do is go up to a 2" hose instead of the 1 1/4" that the vac came with.  With a low vacuum the bees could cling to the sides of the 1 1/4" hose and actually plug it up.  I increased the suction and it worked better, with no deaths that I could tell, but a 2" hose may make that whole issue go away.

Also, I chose to keep the filter on the unit since it is sucking unfiltered air from the original port.  5" cut on the bucket doesn't leave enough room for the filter, so I'll be trying a shorter cut to allow the filter to fit.  For now it's duct tape FTW since mine don't slide together tight.
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« Reply #25 on: July 25, 2013, 02:55:59 AM »

Can the vacuum hose be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot?  I've looked for it and not seen it, never asked a sales person about it though.
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Moots
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« Reply #26 on: July 25, 2013, 08:35:07 AM »

I purchased my hose from a vacuum cleaner shop...However, I know Lowe's has some options that will work in their plumbing section. The smoother the hose is on the inside, the better.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2013, 11:10:33 AM by Moots » Logged

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« Reply #27 on: July 25, 2013, 10:48:25 AM »

Try pool hose. Completely smooth inside. Works great for me & you can get it at Lowe's or home depot.
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« Reply #28 on: July 31, 2013, 10:50:26 PM »

I got the two inch hose for mine at lowes... The exterior of the hose looks ribbed but the inside is a lot smoother.... Just used it last weekend and sucked up a ton of bees. 95 degrees outside and no problem with killing bees... Although Moots pointed out that if you turn the vac off you should pull the screened bucket apart so ventilation can move across the girls...  Works like a charm and weighs hardly nothing... Love it...
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« Reply #29 on: September 12, 2013, 04:34:42 PM »

Excellent! Going to build a 7 gal one on your model. Will report back. Smiley
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« Reply #30 on: September 17, 2013, 12:30:29 AM »

Got a 7 gal bucket, and a 5 gal bucket, some bee screen, and started with a Home Depo 4.5 amp bucket vac, and later after testing, switched to a Lowes 6.5 amp bucket vac with much better controllable suction. Got some strap from JoAnn fabrics, made wire end clips, made a valve flow control with a thumb nut to tighten, made a bounce platform, for the girls to bump into gently, from the cutoff part of the bucket vac and some foam, made a separator from 1/4" ply and bee screen. Glued the screen into the 7 gal cut out side walls with urethane glue. Ready for the next cut out.
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« Reply #31 on: September 17, 2013, 03:36:45 PM »

I use the Owens Bee Vac from Brushy Mountain on a cutout two weeks ago and was not happy with the death rate.  At least a 1/3 of the bees died.  Emil from Central Texas Bee loves this vacume so I know it has to be the way I adjusted the vac power.  In hindsight I think I should have gone with the bee vac type JP is currently using, however, I have a Owens and I'm going to learn to use it safetly.   Hard lesson thouth. 
I have a Owens Bee Vac  also with an extra cage.
I lost afew bees until I learned how to set the vacuum.
I do like the design of the bucket style bee vac.
I might try to build one this winter.
But I adjust the vacuum of the Owens Bee Vac so I just lift the bees not just suck them in and slam dunk them.
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« Reply #32 on: September 21, 2013, 10:41:00 AM »

Moots thanks for the ingenious thinking here!!
Capt44, Moots and everyone.... I used my 7 gal bee vac described above on a cutout yesterday; It worked very well BUT I lost a ton of bees and probably the queen.
It was inside a single woman's home and she wanted the bees OUT!
However, I have some questions for the Bee Masters out there:
1) will vacuum control alone reduce or eliminate this problem?
2) should I empty the holding bucket every X minutes (10 min, 1/2 hour, 1 hour ??)
3) the bees were all wet... it was humid .. was this the cause...they were all bunched up into a wet clump 5 inches high.... perhaps honey sogged and liquidified?
4) I hesitate to do cutouts in late September because I don't know how well they will do when added to my existing hives so late in the season??
Addendum: Sorry I had not noticed Moots reply #23 above but I am still concerned..
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« Reply #33 on: September 21, 2013, 09:32:52 PM »

Moots thanks for the ingenious thinking here!!
Capt44, Moots and everyone.... I used my 7 gal bee vac described above on a cutout yesterday; It worked very well BUT I lost a ton of bees and probably the queen.
It was inside a single woman's home and she wanted the bees OUT!
However, I have some questions for the Bee Masters out there:
1) will vacuum control alone reduce or eliminate this problem?
2) should I empty the holding bucket every X minutes (10 min, 1/2 hour, 1 hour ??)
3) the bees were all wet... it was humid .. was this the cause...they were all bunched up into a wet clump 5 inches high.... perhaps honey sogged and liquidified?
4) I hesitate to do cutouts in late September because I don't know how well they will do when added to my existing hives so late in the season??
Addendum: Sorry I had not noticed Moots reply #23 above but I am still concerned..

Wet bees are overheated bees.  As bees get warm,  they need to spread out to cool down.   In order to spread out, they need space to do so.  Bucket vacs do not have a large enough volume to allow any halfway decent sized swarm or cutout enough space to spread out.
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« Reply #34 on: September 21, 2013, 10:50:36 PM »

thubten,
I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with Robo, I've used this vac on a large cutout as well as a number of very big swarms...most of those being on 90°+ Louisiana days and have never had an issue.
Follow my points in reply #23 and you should be fine.

If you're worried about overcrowding, you can always build extra catch buckets. But trust me, you'd be shocked how many bees you can safely fit in one 5 gallon bucket. That was another reason for the "on its side" design, more room for the bees to spread out.

Good Luck! 😊
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« Reply #35 on: September 21, 2013, 10:58:30 PM »

Quote
Second, I never leave the catch container in the vac without running the vac to keep the air flow moving.
   This can be quite impractical at times, especially when doing large cut outs.   I'm not saying you can't,  but I can say I have sold more bee vacs to people that had overheating issue with bucket vacs than any other design.   
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« Reply #36 on: September 22, 2013, 01:15:02 AM »

Unless the bucket style vac can be operated on its side thus enabling bees to spread out a bucket style vac is a death trap. Proper ventilation & the ability to spread out are key for low casualty rates with any type of vac.


...JP
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« Reply #37 on: September 22, 2013, 01:38:58 AM »

Quote
Second, I never leave the catch container in the vac without running the vac to keep the air flow moving.
   

This can be quite impractical at times, especially when doing large cut outs.   I'm not saying you can't,  but I can say I have sold more bee vacs to people that had overheating issue with bucket vacs than any other design.   

Robo,

Not really sure what you find impractical about it?  When the catch bucket is in place, I leave the vac running to avoid overheating the bees.  If I want to stop the vac for any length of time, I simply remove the catch bucket from the bucket vac to allow the bees more air.  When I'm ready to vac again, I simply brush any stragglers of the outside of the catch bucket and insert it back in the bucket vac and resume vacuuming.  It literally takes about 10 seconds.

 
However, as I've said before when discussing the different types of bee vacs...They all have their advantages and disadvantages.  Smiley

While I think your vac is a great design and have heard nothing but great things about it.  Personally, for me, a bucket vac in many cases,  simply makes more sense.  For example, when a local Chemical Plant calls for me to remove a swarm, in many cases, they won't allow you to bring a vehicle into their facility.  I've had to walk a couple 100 yards and climb up a couple levels of scaffolding  to reach swarms at these facilities...Something pretty easily accomplished with a bucket vac slung over my shoulder, but something that would be quite impractical with your style of vac.

As for all the people that you know that have had overheating issues with bucket vacs...I really can't speak for them, I can just tell you it hasn't been an issue for me.    

Honestly, as much as I've read about dead loss with bee vacs in general, I was absolutely shocked after the first several times I used my vac and observed absolutely none.  My best guess is that most people have their suction set way too strong.
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« Reply #38 on: September 22, 2013, 05:25:40 AM »

Robo,

Not really sure what you find impractical about it?  When the catch bucket is in place, I leave the vac running to avoid overheating the bees.  If I want to stop the vac for any length of time, I simply remove the catch bucket from the bucket vac to allow the bees more air.  When I'm ready to vac again, I simply brush any stragglers of the outside of the catch bucket and insert it back in the bucket vac and resume vacuuming.  It literally takes about 10 seconds.

 
However, as I've said before when discussing the different types of bee vacs...They all have their advantages and disadvantages.  Smiley

While I think your vac is a great design and have heard nothing but great things about it.  Personally, for me, a bucket vac in many cases,  simply makes more sense.  For example, when a local Chemical Plant calls for me to remove a swarm, in many cases, they won't allow you to bring a vehicle into their facility.  I've had to walk a couple 100 yards and climb up a couple levels of scaffolding  to reach swarms at these facilities...Something pretty easily accomplished with a bucket vac slung over my shoulder, but something that would be quite impractical with your style of vac.

As for all the people that you know that have had overheating issues with bucket vacs...I really can't speak for them, I can just tell you it hasn't been an issue for me.    

Honestly, as much as I've read about dead loss with bee vacs in general, I was absolutely shocked after the first several times I used my vac and observed absolutely none.  My best guess is that most people have their suction set way too strong.

As my Dad use to say, "If everybody liked vanilla, they wouldn't make chocolate"  grin

I'm glad the bucket vac works great for you,  and thanks for sharing your experience and proper way to use so others can avoid killing bees.
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« Reply #39 on: November 23, 2013, 07:46:28 AM »

I used a home made bee-vac  (Robo type) to get a swarm off a chain-link fence. I built an sliding gate to  adjust the suction.  It worked great.   It is a little too heavy and cumbersome  to carry very far. I like your bucket design. I'll probably build one.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2013, 09:21:12 AM by bbbthingmaker » Logged
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« Reply #40 on: November 23, 2013, 09:29:02 AM »

Another idea.     Instead of lining the bucket with screen or hardware cloth, use a 5 gallon paint strainer.  Would this provide enough ventilation ?  Maybe it would be easy to close the top of the filter and pull it out with the bees contained ?
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« Reply #41 on: November 23, 2013, 10:13:40 AM »


  I'll get some pics of mine today...   This spring we'll do a competition with them    grin   I THINK, mine is more like the one Robo built..  I built mine before I read anything about robo's and there are differences, but will have to wait to hear from him when he sees the pics.. Off to build hives, be back later!
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« Reply #42 on: November 23, 2013, 11:04:56 AM »

Great Vacuum! Looks like it will be very durable  th_thumbsupup
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« Reply #43 on: November 23, 2013, 08:38:24 PM »

got some pics of mine today;

  

      The top is the vac.. the hive body and bottom board ""ARE"" a hive body and bottom board..


  

   I made a cleat to fit in the lower entrance of the hive and secured it with two screws...   Upon returning from a cutout, all I have to do is remove this cleat, drop an inner and telescoping cover on it and I am done...



  It took me a bit of time to figure out how to keep the bees from "clumping" under the intake area.. adding the piece of pegboard and screen evened out the suction across the entire top of the hive so they dont stick to it anymore.. there is about a four inch gap between this board and the top of the hive box....



   The intake connector from the old vac had an angle on it that I had to cut off so the bees come straight in without hitting anything.. in this image and the first one you can see the two holes I can use to increase or decrease intake suction.. I just used a couple brackets I stole from something else, ran a screw in them to hold them. They allow me to open or close these front holes to slow the amount of suction in the hose.



   I found that those two holes in the front were not enough, so I made a hole in the top.. that finally allowed me to reduce the amount of suction enough to keep from killing them..
   They come into the hive where the suction is diffused, and drop to the frames under them. Adding a frame of brood one of honey /pollen and at least two drawn combs usually has them covering those frames when I open the top. If the cut out is a large one I just add another medium super before I start to give them space inside. The more volume inside the chamber the less it seems to affect the bees once they are in there..
     I tried a couple different types, and didnt like either of them much.. I dont like sucking the bees up at the site, then dumping them into a hive when I finally get home..  this allows me to vac them, take them home, drop the tops on, replace the cleat with a reducer and I am done..

   I use a simple ratchet strap to keep it together. I can carry it with one hand full of bees. I have a pvc cap I slide into the hose port when done so I dont have to worry about bees coming out the hose.   I have used it only twice.. the first time I killed a lot of bees, the second time I added the top hole.. it took a lot longer, but was worth the effort and time in saving a LOT more bees, including the queen.
   Its just an old shop vac I picked up at a yard sale. I cut the filter adapter off the bottom and screwed what remained to the top of the box I had made. I used foam around the sealing surface where the box meets the hive body, but this vac has enough suction that I dont think it was necessary. I have two ten foot long pieces of PVC I can put on over the hose to reach 20 feet up if necessary.
   I hope to get a video or three this coming spring.. I cant compete with JP but can at least show it in action.

  SO!!   Moots.. whoever vacs the most hives that SURVIVE wins!!!  Whats the prize?? An all expense paid vacation consisting of 20 minutes at McDonalds???


   


« Last Edit: November 23, 2013, 08:50:33 PM by OldMech » Logged

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« Reply #44 on: November 26, 2013, 05:06:43 PM »

I picked up some free buckets at a friends restaurant today.  I think I'll build me one.
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