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Moving bees from bad location ?

 
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charentejohn
Foraging Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 100
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 2:06 pm    Post subject: Moving bees from bad location ? Reply with quote

Hi related to my beekeeping suit question this is the full story of why I may need one.

Four years ago a swarm moved into a bird roosting box, terrible location, on a garage wall facing west. This gets rain and wind all winter and the ply is starting to suffer. I can do a repair, fit a new piece over the entrance hole, now black and dry/crumbling, and maybe paint with PVA glue to seal the front it a bit.

Ideally i would like to move them as a neighbour complained he had six down his chimney and threatened action. The hive is on my land but near the road, no problem to anyone up to now. Two days later all were dead, no explanation why but a local beekeeper said even fly spray would kill them. Don't know if anything happened, just a coincidence.
This is a side issue and not really the point, annoying that nothing can be proved but no comments please as I know what we all think.

Good news is the beekeeper who called lives locally and is really helpful and has given lots of good info. I don't want to be his stalker and call him for everything. Good news is he collects swarms from people and I have two top bar hives 'des-res' waiting. He said attracting bees is a real long shot but he could deliver spare swarms if he has them. So that is an upside.

After the unexplained deaths the hive/box was empty apart from a few stragglers for a day or so. Then a few other bees arrived, then more and more. They killed the remaining bees, sad to see the futile struggles (put a sheet below hive and saw bodies) by mobbing and stinging them then spent a day raiding the hive. Local keeper says there would not have been much at this time.

So all quiet for a day, just a few of the new bees about. My old ones were grey with black stripes, new are standard black and yellow.
Three days ago thousands turned up and have now occupied the hive, much buzzing for 2 days but now settled with the usual 20+coming and going at any one time.

The local keeper says too late to try to move them to the top bar hives now as been 3 days and they will be settled.
I had a plan to drill a hole in the top bar hive to match the exit hole on the box and fix them together so the bees would have to come and go via the TB hive entrance but seems a bit late.

So from bad news some positive news. I hope that by next year I will have had a spare swarm installed in one top bar hive at least.
I was told that bees remember where they came from and the hive must be moved miles until a new crop of workers who did not know the old one are cycled into the system, then it can be moved back.

Hopefully a spare swarm will be available. Alongside this I was wondering if it would be possible to do the 'joining one hive to another' over winter ? So I wait until jan/feb and move this to the other TBH ?
There should be no workers alive then ? so new ones would just get used to the new one. I would guess they would colonise the TBH by expanding out into it, using the old box supplies. By this time next year I could remove the box and seal up the TBH joining point.
If this sounds possible I will just do a basic repair on the box they are in pending it's moving.

So ends episodes 1 to 20 Smile Sorry for the long winded explanation but I would like to manage these hives as best I can, without taking anything, as they are sealed and for bees only. But sealed hives present their own problems like now when deteriorating.
The TB Hives should last a long time as made from heavy duty ply.

Any advice appreviated, John
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1576
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi John

In ordinary circumstances, 3 days makes things more difficult but not impossible and I think the potential risk of them also possibly being subjected to fly spray makes it worth while moving them. My guess would also be that the neighbour who is getting bees down his chimney may already have a swarm that has taken up residence in there, which is going to make him even more hostile when he figures it out. Also, if that bird box has been sprayed it is not a healthy environment for it's current inhabitants, even without the risk of a second dose, so that's another reason to move them.

If you plug the entrance hole or cover it with mesh and take the bird box down on an evening when all/most of the bees are in and move it to sit on top of the TBH you are going to transfer them to with the entrances facing in the same direction, or even sit it inside the TBH and leave them fastened in for a day.... but make sure they have ventilation. Then after a night and day imprisoned, put some foliage across the entrance and then let them out. The incarceration and foliage will cause them to re orientate to the new location. Once they get used to flying to this new location for a few days you can either do a "cut out" on them, where the comb is cut from the bird box and attached to your top bars, or in this case, in view of the concern that the comb may be contaminated, try to find the queen and place her in a queen clip and hang/place it in your hive and then shake/brush the other bees in with her and once you have all the bees out of the bird box, remove it. The bees should re orientate to the new hive quite quickly as they will have got used to the new location for a couple of days before you cut them out.

There is a recent post by a relatively novice beekeeper who has just done a cut out from a wheelie bin and he posted lots of photos which may help you, but You Tube will also have lots of footage of cut outs and shook swarms if you search.
Below is a link to the wheelie bin cut out

http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18560&highlight=bin+removal

If you have any other questions about it, just shout up.

Good luck

Barbara
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charentejohn
Foraging Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 100
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Afraid my skills wouldn't run to cutting out comb, no protective gear as yet so will be some days before I could even think about it.
My position at the moment would be to order a suit and see how I feel about repairing the hive.

I will do more reading online but am thinking my relocation in January or thereabouts by linking the hives may be worth a try. I assume all workers would have been replaced by then ? Local keeper said they die after 2 months work, hence the moving away for a while to relocate a hive, that is due to them wearing themselves out but I assume wintering does the same.
I did read about the branch in front of the hive to make the bees think about where they are. Sounds right and I would use that when moving them.

They should be ok for this year where they are, as they seem to be a swarm from elsewhere that has split, so can build up for a year.
Main tricky bit I can see is if the plan worked and by May they had colonised the TBH there may still be some left in the old hive. Best guess with that would be to attach it to a tree nearby (on the edge of a small copse on my land) so they can decamp / move resources over a period of time.
This relocation is long overdue as current position is far from ideal, that said they have survived there nearly 4 years.


The neighbour is, despite now living in the coutryside, totaly clueless. When asked about the missing bees he suggested they might be sleeping during the day, the local beekeeper did point out it was normally bats that did that. What can I say. He lit a fire (flue in chimney so not open chimney) because he thought smoke would kill them.
No proof of what happened but he had no idea how many bees are in a hive and insisted he had 'not been on my property'. Sounded like a diplomatic answer. Perhaps, if he did anything, he sprayed the bees he could see flying with raid and, being a still day, this ended up in the hive. He does not have the understanding of wildlife so could have thought killing those flying about was the end of it.
I don't think he sprayed directly into the hive entrance, high up and not easy, as 24 hrs later no smell of spray. But loads in the general vicinity would have done damage.
After the discussion afterwards, now all calm again, I doubt a repeat performance.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take Barbara's advice ASAP and get them into a hive. You could put a follower board over the existing entrance with holes aligned then put this into the TBH. As Barbara said, they will orientate to this new location and should start building comb on the topbars. As soon as you have comb on the topbars, and a veil, you could open the bird box and shake the bees into the TBH and put a standard follower board in. You would then effectively have a package. If there is any comb in the box that is easily removed it could be mounted to the topbars, especially if it has brood. As the hive gets going remove this old comb to remove any residues.

Just some thoughts.
Rob.
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charentejohn
Foraging Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 100
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really would like to move them but my expertise does not run to cutting and moving comb. The TBH is sealed, usual V construction with slats made from pine pallet timber. This then has a bit added above with a piece of ploystyrene in, then a piece of ply screwed to this with terracotta tiles on top (waterproofing).
I could remove all the top bits and just have the ply lid not fixed, making it a normal hive, just for a while.

I may try the idea of attaching this hive to the side of the TBH so they have to exit through it. Hopefully that should disorient them enough.
I could also put mesh over the TBH entrance for a day just to make sure they stay in it for a while.

The current box/hive needs repair and I could make a square 'snorkel' to go over the entrance. Basically a small ply box say 8x8x8cm that I could attach to the box and put mesh over one end. Then remove it from the garage wall, just 2 screws, and attach it to the TBH quickly removing the mesh before doing so. I could do this during the night whic may help.

Is it worth trying this now or waiting till winter ?
What will stragglers do, I would guess they will return to the wall where the box was then remember where the new location is. I assume they would not wait there forever.

The new bees are a feisty lot, lots of activity so I assume they are ok.
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Tavascarow
Silver Bee


Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 962
Location: UK Cornwall Snozzle

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is the nest box small enough to put it in the TBH?
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1576
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If that bird box is already full of comb from the previous occupants, the swarm that has moved in will almost certainly swarm again in 5-6 weeks maybe even sooner, if you don't transfer them to a larger capacity hive.... it will probably throw more than one swarm and still be left occupied. This bird box is going to be a source of swarms which will cause a nuisance to your neighbours and maybe even yourself if they colonise somewhere inconvenient, like a chimney or attic.

The skills required are not difficult and the link I posted was from a relative novice who had not done it before. Doing research, watching videos and planning is what is required for the job to go successfully and having a positive attitude. If you are going to keep bees, it is no good being afraid to handle them and putting up hives for bees to populate without consideration for where the swarms they produce will go is not responsible beekeeping in my opinion.

Your suggestion of attaching the bird box to the hive will almost certainly not lead to the bees moving out of the bird box and they may not even expand into the hive at all but just swarm again as soon as they have filled the bird box with brood, as they will not see the hive cavity as part of their nest area.
I know it seems like an easy option and you want to hope that it will work, but you are not understanding the way that bees work... Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go for it..... the sense of achievement can be a tremendous reward when you step outside your comfort zone and we will be here to support you with advice and planning tips to make it as straightforward as possible.

Regards

Barbara
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Listen to Barbara. You don't need lots of gear, a smoker, hive tool and veil are the essentials. Check my avatar, we have no problems working them like this as its too hot in the full kit.

Cheers
Rob.
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charentejohn
Foraging Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 100
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, sorry for the late reply but I have a grass cutting crisis, all mowers broken so I have been a bit distracted.

It may take a couple of weeks, to get gear and organise things, but I am willing to try it. My local beekeeper may be able to help but I know he is busy for the next few weeks and I don't want to bother him as we have only just met. Ok for phone advice but asking him to spend a day is a bit much, once he has more time should be ok.

The box they are in won't fit in the TBH so would need to be opened up. It was designed as a bird roosting box and is a little larger than two shoe boxes stuck together. The entrance (apart from a rotted bit) is a 25mm hole in the bottom left corner, I can see grey honeycomb when looking in with a flashlight.
Inside are two shelves about 2/3 the width of the box. So any comb should be in 3 sections ? Top, middle and lower shelf. Could be possible to break up the box and retain the side with the two shelves then put the whole thing in the TBH. I will measure up as this would be simpler than cutting the comb too much.

I know people are confident doing this but I just imagine myself decimating brood or killing the queen. I tend to worry too much on such things.
Same idea as the vet for the cat I think, I try to cut claws and am worried about making a mistake and blood everywhere. The vet just goes snip, snip. Years of practice and confidence.

I do think bees will swarm from wherever they are so if in my bird box or TBH should be no problem. If they weren't here they would be somewhere else. The fact I want to provide a sealed hive, as opposed to a colonised shed corner or rotten tree should make no real difference.
At the end of the day I don't want to be a beekeeper in the sense of managing them, I was so pleased to have the original lot turn up I just want to keep them (or their replacements) in somewhere out of the way and more durable.

Only this one neighbour has a problem and after 3 years at that, swarms welcome normally by all neighbours, so long as not anywhere really inconvenient. A neighbour had roof repairs done and a nest was in the roof between tiles, insulation and a stone wall. Sadly timbers were rotten and had to be replaced, local keepers could not remove them so they had to be killed. Neighbour, keeper and workmen all upset by this.

I did read the full details of the wheelie bin removal and seemed ok, but they absolutely had to be removed due to where they were. This lot are ok for the moment so if they swarm again before I (and local keeper) have a chance to do anything should be ok locally.
We are currently surrounded by acres of oil seed rape, yellow as far as the eye can see so loads of forage so an increase is inevitable ?

I assume the cutting and relocation is best done in summertime to allow for winter stockpiling. Not so good to wait until January and then do the dismantling and move of the comb as they will have set up for wintering in a smaller space.
I am fine with the physical side, cutting, wiring etc being very practical, just the damage to the population my igorance would do. When people say, find the queen and move to a new area I have no idea what that means, hopefully my local keeper can help.
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jnickison1
Guard Bee


Joined: 20 Mar 2016
Posts: 69
Location: USA, Michigan, Mecosta.

PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 1:59 am    Post subject: moving bees from.... Reply with quote

Hi John, as a very newbee myself I can not offer you much but to say that what you need to do to move the bees may be painful for you but consider the the alternative. I had to do a similar operation a few days ago, my first experience with bees, and watching them now every day makes it worth the experience. Remember that even the vet you mentioned had to do what he/she did for the first time.

John
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charentejohn
Foraging Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 100
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A good point, I really want them to use the better TBH so may have to just bite the bullet.
I will ask my local beekeeper to help, but that will be in a couple of weeks as he is not free at the moment. I know he does not think this will work as such, that they will all return to the original position, but with no boxes there they will have nowhere to return to.

I will let you all know when I have a date for a move but any other advice appreciated in the meantime. Hopefully the complete sections can just be cut from the box, in the meantime I can start adding wire attachment points to the top bars.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you make a nuc sized hive and do the transfer then leave the new hive in the old position for a few days. You could then move it to the new location and use the entrance blocked with dry grass and a bush in front of the entrance to make them reorientate.

Cheers
Rob.
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charentejohn
Foraging Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 100
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, seems they will be relocating some distance away.
One stung my wife a couple of weeks ago and she reacted badly, swollen face and eyes from a sting on the forehead, so I have asked a local beekeeper to take it down for me. He has someone who will take them and they live a long way off. He charges about £30 for this as it will involve coming round at night, sealing them in and removing the two screws holding the box to the wall so not unreasonable.

I will make a 'hannibal lecter' mask of wood with a fine mesh front so they will be sealed in, we can wait till about 10pm then fit this and remove the box. He has someone coming the following morning to collect a swarm from him and he said he will also take these.
He did suggest I could get the box down myself but I worry, as much for the bees as myself, that if there is another way out for them or I drop the box and they emerge I will have to run away and leave them on the ground. Not ideal, may not happen but if it does I have no way to fix it.

Curently in 25c temperatures they are bearding heavily outside the hive, lots of rape seed recently so they should be well stocked. I wonderd if they were swarming as they normally don't bunch up so much.
He doesen't think this is the case as they would have gone to a branch or similar, probably just a lot of bees in there.

Once gone I will look for another swarm for the empty hive I have.
I was considering the cutting out but better this way I think, my wife is now worried about going out of the gate as they are directly above it. A lot of annoyed bees being cut out now is not such a good idea.

The other hive is in the corner of the garden so won't bother anybody. I had hoped the local keeper would have helped me cut them out but I think he is too busy to really do this.
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charentejohn
Foraging Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 100
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well we had to postpone the move so can take a more relaxed view. Only such a panic to do it as someone was arriving to pick up a swarm from the local keeper and would also have taken these as well. Basically remove then on Thursday night or not at all, so not then.
When he looked at the hive/box they are in he realised my worry about them escaping mid move as the box is deteriorating. So.......

I am going to buy a suit and repair the box so it can be moved, should take a week or more to get the gear and do the job. The next person who wants a swarm can have these bees and he will deliver a local swarm as a replacement. That way no losses due to cutting out and not moving far enough away. If I had a way to locate this lot elsewhere for a month or more then return them I would but not possible.

I will sort out the new TBH to make sure it is all 100% so a new swarm can be installed.
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