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Smoking a colony out

 
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 5:35 pm    Post subject: Smoking a colony out Reply with quote

Ok I've had a call out today to a swarm in a cavity wall. It's a 2 story flat roof extension on a mid terraced house. They are mostly entering through a gap in the facia where the extension joins the house at roof level and the house next door has a conservatory underneath, so I can't get a ladder directly to it. To make matters worse it's the down hill side of the terrace, so it's a high 2 stories. I can hopefully borrow an extending ladder from a neighbour to get onto the flat roof although I'm really not comfortable going that high.

The bees are currently coming out through air bricks in the ground floor kitchen (behind the units) and an air vent to the outside of the kitchen but there are odd gaps in the brickwork and facia that are also getting interest and it's not going to be possible to access them to block them.

I'm planning on trying to smoke them out but there must be a huge volume of cavity, albeit narrow, between the ground floor air brick and the top of roof where the most activity is.

I plan to put a bait hive on the roof next to where they have entered.
Before I risk life and limb climbing that high, does anyone know how effective smoking them over that distance is going to be and will my beekeeping smoker generate enough smoke to do the job? They have been there 3 days from what I can gather.

Any info, suggestions or experience on such situations welcome

Cheers

Barbara
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A cavity wall may have insulation in it which will reduce the volume of smoke needed - foam sheets are often used. I'm not a builder, but think they became popular in the eighties (I wait to be corrected). If the occupants don't know if it has insulation in, the date of the extension may help.

Look forward to hearing how it goes as I'm involved with a colony that has recently (Friday) moved into the stone wall of a shop in the High Street. It's causing some (positive) interest in bees!! Cool
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bitter Almond Oil soaked in a cloth. Fasten the cloth on a long wire and try to get it under the colony. They dislike that smell and will move away/out. That is how my first bee mentor gets them crawl out of chimneys. Once out brush them into a box. Good luck
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steved6530
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Mar 2011
Posts: 307
Location: Exeter, Devon

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
They are mostly entering through a gap in the facia where the extension joins the house at roof level and the house next door has a conservatory underneath, so I can't get a ladder directly to it.


If the bees are entering at roof level, is it possible they are in the soffit or even the loft space and not the cavity at all.

If they are in the cavity, you will need plenty of smoke and a bait hive set up with some sort of swarm lure. A word of caution....there may be holes on the inside of the house(s) through which smoke can escape.

Good luck with whatever you do

Steve
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J Smith
Foraging Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, you do pick them!
If you tried to write a "most difficult swarm capture" this scenario would have to rate pretty highly. Very Happy

My first thought was is it a just arrived swarm or a just noticed well established colony?
Personally I would think a new swarm would be using just the one entry point, at least for a good while whilst they became established.

Could it be a swarm came from a colony already in place in the same wall cavity and found another opening in which to stake their claim?

I am trying to picture the construction of the house in my mind- sounds kind of Coronation Streetish (most houses are stand alone sing storey here) and if you have bees exiting on several levels on a two storey wall- the cavity could be HUGE.
Depending on the construction used, there could be an air cavity within that wall that is several inches deep and the entire wall face height from ground to fascia, plus the width of the building.
If there are vent bricks in place, they are there so air can circulate in an air gap formed during construction- between the interior and exterior wall claddings. If the interior is timber stud/wallboard, the insulation will be between the timbers and there will be a constant air gap between the outside of the timbers and the brick. If double brick, there may be the same air gap- without insulation. Basically you have "two" walls built with a 2-4" gap between each face so air can move freely.

If you cannot block all entry/exits I really do not like your chances of smoking all bees out. In my mind the cavity will be just too big. It will require a huge amount of smoke (better notify the local fire brigade before you start) or the bees may depart the area smoked and just duck back into an opening that is not blocked and hide there.

I could be completely wrong, that is the folly of assuming and trying to offer advice from the other side of the World- through written information. If I could stand beside you and watch the activity, gauge the building. I might offer a complete set of different suggestions!
If it were me, I might try stethoscopeing the walls to try to establish where any cluster might be and if the entire wall is occupied. Block the majority of entrances and funnel trap out the open ones, rather than trying to smoke the entire wall.
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 260
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe I am a lightweight, but you know what, I would say sorry but I can't help. It smells of trouble from the outset but it's good to know you care enough to take it on. You just know that while you 're sorting it, your own hives are going to swarm Barbara. Good Luck.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK. The cavity is a cavity with no insulation, built in the 70s. The owner could tell me that much and he saw the swarm in the garden a short time before it moved in, so I know it's recent. It's a flat roof, so I'm pretty certain they are in the cavity especially as they are coming out in the kitchen through the air bricks behind the units and an external air brick under the kitchen window and the odd hole in the mortar between bricks.
I'm aware that some of the smoke will leak out of the air bricks into the kitchen. Not sure if there are any others apart from the external one under the kitchen window which is where I plan to put the smoke in. The main activity though is up at roof level on the side of the extension where it joins the house, so from my air brick under the window, the smoke has to travel 90degrees round the corner of the building and then another 20 ish feet up and back. Bitter almond oil on a wire is a great idea for a chimney, but there is no way I could manipulate it through a 2 inch cavity 20 feet and round a corner even if I could hack the air brick out to get access unfortunately. Will remember that for another time though.

Mannanin, you are quite right, my head says don't be stupid, but my heart says I have to give it a go. You are even more right when you say that whilst I'm working on that, one of my swarms will be getting away. So far I'm on a roll with mine though. 3 prime swarms and all caught first time! Two have been hived good as gold, the third is to be hived in the morning.

Anyway, many thanks to all for your responses. Will let you know how I get on but I'm waiting on a set of ladders being borrowed from a neighbour of the householder, so if that doesn't happen, I've got a get out clause. Just trying to get my plan sorted in my mind in advance because I need to be able to act as soon as the ladders are available.

Anyone got any ideas on how to pump the smoke into the airbrick? I have been trying to figure out how to fit some sort of nozzle or hose on my smoker that I can feed in through the vent, but it needs to be something heat tolerant and a smoker snout is a bad shape to fit anything over and keep it there.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hopefully most of you will be aware that as a spam prevention measure, Phil thought it would be fun for the word K/I/T/C/H/E/N to be automatically converted to frog. Unfortunately that is starting to have unforeseen repercussions! Confused
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J Smith
Foraging Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So..... what is "frog" now replaced with? Confused Laughing

All clear.... now.
Well, one good thing to come from your further postings. The wall cavity is not full of overburdened comb that might collapse/break down and cause staining to the frog interior walls if all the bees are removed.

Might be a case of asking some friends to act as smoke producers. I would have a smoker in each available entry/exit point and try to capture at the lowest point (the vent bricks). That is if you can get enough cold smoke in there to drive the bees down.
Know anyone in a rock band with a smoke generator? Cool

Joking aside, I would go and talk to the local fire brigade- they know how smoke acts in cavities and will be able to advise. They may even have a smoke generator they are willing to lend or come and set up for you. As long as it produces a non-toxic smoke, it would be a grand way to fog them out.

There is an opening out there for someone to invent a plug in ultra sound device that emits the right tone that promotes bees into packing up and leaving cavities that are too hard to extract them normally..... like the rodent deterrent ones. Wink
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
Anyone got any ideas on how to pump the smoke into the airbrick? I have been trying to figure out how to fit some sort of nozzle or hose on my smoker that I can feed in through the vent, but it needs to be something heat tolerant and a smoker snout is a bad shape to fit anything over and keep it there.


Smoke Bomb and a fan?
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WileyHunter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 125
Location: Batesville, IN USA

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about instead of trying to fit something "over" the smoker nozzle, run a piece of copper tubing into the nozzle a short distance, then tape in place with true duct tape (the metallic kind, not the 100 mph kind).
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you. That is a great suggestion.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Formic acid also works in driving out the bees out of cavaties. Just sprinkle it with a syringe. (But of course not onto the bees.)
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zaunreiter
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Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Make sure that if there is insulation in that wall or roof, that it doesn't catch fire. Some insulations do catch fire easily and burn like hell. So a smoker must be used with great care, or the house burns down which is not worth it.
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Dexter's shed
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Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi babs, do you use a handful of green grass in the top of your smoker? as that cools the smoke coming out, you could therefore simply insert hose pipe or smaller dia type pipe into the air brick,
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trekmate wrote:
Look forward to hearing how it goes as I'm involved with a colony that has recently (Friday) moved into the stone wall of a shop in the High Street. It's causing some (positive) interest in bees!! Cool


Errr..... and another in an inaccessible part of a roof being looked at by a friend! Rolling Eyes
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Amber
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Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 47
Location: Chorley, Lancashire, UK

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 5:56 pm    Post subject: Smoking a colony out Reply with quote

I wish they'd hurry up with those ladders, Barbara, the suspense is awful. I've been tuning in every day to get the next instalment. Good luck!
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 260
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So we are now at the end of day three since they moved in. I know you don't know if it was a prime swarm, but shall we guess and say it was. Barbara, you are probably one step ahead and have considered that queenie may already be laying in some nice new comb by now. Your chances of persuading them to relocate to your bait hive are diminishing rapidly. Do you have a plan B or will you invoke that get out clause and just hope the ladders don't turn up!
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mannanin, you are right. I've had no word on ladders and to be honest I'm so busy with other stuff that I'm not chasing it up unless they do. If I get the call back, I will go and perhaps use binoculars to see if pollen is going in and if not, I will give it a try. It was actually Thurs last week that the swarm moved in and almost certainly a prime swarm, as swarming season has just started here, so the odds of success are diminishing rapidly and I think they may well have gone down the destruction route by now, which is a shame for them, but if I'm honest, a relief for me.

I really appreciate all the replies and suggestions and whilst I may not have used them on this occasion, they are mentally filed for future reference.

Cheers

Barbara

Trekmate, how are the bees in the High Street doing?
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1487
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
K/I/T/C/H/E/N to be automatically converted to frog.


Maybe change the substitution to, "spam post"
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biobee
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Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good idea! Except if anyone here mentions the room where they do their cooking, they may inadvertently become a spammer...
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trekmate
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Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:

Trekmate, how are the bees in the High Street doing?


A few bees are in and out of the bait hive that's close to their entrance, but they are going into a gap in mortar in a 150 year old stone wall! They are causing no trouble (about 10 feet up) and the owner is happy to leave them so I think the bait hive will be removed soon and they'll be a swarm resource in the future if all goes to plan!
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