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How to move oil drum with bee colony

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New Bee

Joined: 24 Apr 2014
Posts: 2
Location: South Africa, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Central Drakensberg Mountains

PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 12:45 pm    Post subject: How to move oil drum with bee colony Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

I'm new to beekeeping, and have hived my first swam earlier this year.

We have had swarms arriving and setteling in odd places the last few years, and this was the reason to start keeping bees. Hoping that if I supplied some homes for them they would settle there.

Recently I discoverd a colony in a big (empty) old oil drum in a corner in my garden. Since we have to fell some trees around this drum I need to (re)move/relocated the bees.

Anyone any tips how to move them?
I used this drum for a make shift scaffelding. The oil drum is closed at the top and bottom, except for some draine holes I punched into the top and bottom.(the bees fly in and out through the holes in the top)

I don't mind if they stay in the drum, but how do I prefend them from attacking while moving the drum?

Thanks for your tips

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J Smith
Foraging Bee

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

PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are we speaking 44-55 gallon metal oil drum with sealed ends?
If the bees are happy to be living in it, and the oil residues have been washed/cleaned out, I guess you could let them stay in it.
Perhaps not the ideal hive- but not knowing your local conditions- It is hard or me to comment.
My main worry would be overheating of the metal drum in Summer temperatures and any oil residues gassifying in the heat and poisoning the colony.

However, your main concern is shifting the drum.
How big are the drainage holes?

If they are around 12mm or smaller, I would be tempted to wait for evening, get some duct tape and tape over the holes when all the bees have "returned to roost" for the night.
Gently tilt the drum, slide the foot of a hand truck/bag barrow under the drum and transport the "hive" to a new position, clear of your trees that are to be felled. Somewhere level and well sheltered from direct sunlight.
Remove the tape off a couple of the top holes they were using and place a branch in front of the openings so there is not a direct come and go line from the holes. This will encourage them to re-orientate themselves to the new position of "home", that is if you are not shifting them a great distance and they are to remain on the same property.

Ideally I would like to see them removed from the drum and housed in a hive more easily worked by yourself and friendlier to the colony.
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New Bee

Joined: 24 Apr 2014
Posts: 2
Location: South Africa, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Central Drakensberg Mountains

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your reply mr Smith. And sorry for my late reaction. We live in a rural area with no access to Internet.

It's a big drum, I think a 55 gallon one. The drum is sealed on top and bottom except for a few holes we punched in it. (This to prevent it from being stolen, it's useless now to store water in it).

We decided to leave the drum in it's place for now, and move it later in winter. Hoping the bees will be less active and therefore less disturbed when moved.

Regarding our climate the following information.
We live at an altitude of +/- 1250 meter above sea level at the bottom of a mountain range. This is a summer rainfall area with hot summers (25-40 Celsius during the day). In winter we have no rainfall at all. Daytime temperatures in winter are between 10 - 20 Celsius. The coldest winter nights are about -5 Celsius. The bees stay active all winter. Thanks to some alien trees (black wattle, blue gumtrees, Australian bottle brush) there is quite a bit of nectar flow in winter as well.

We also would prefer to remove the bees from the drum. But we don't have a clue about how to do this. Cutting the drum open with an angel grinder while the bees are still inside isn't an option ofcourse.

We have been thinking to put a big fabric bag over the top of the drum and then encourage the bees to leave the drum. Then cut the drum open, moving the comb to a hive and shaking the bees into it.

The question now is how to encourage the bees, especially the queen, to leave the drum?

Any ideas?

Your thoughts are very much appreciated.

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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee

Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

if you look on you tube, you'll see plenty of people cutting bees out of logs using a chainsaw, therefore you probably could do an angle grinder on the side of the drum, the bees comb will probably be attached to the inside top, so cutting an opening flap low down in the side should not be too difficult, make it big enough so you can get a good look inside, then I would drill holes in the side 45 degrees to the flap, so two steel rods could be pushed through both sides, get some frames with foundation in them, for what ever type hive is available in your country, and place them inside, supported on the steel rods, then close the flap and gaffa tape shut
your bees should then start drawing out comb on the frames, queens prefer to lay eggs on new white comb rather than old comb, so she should come down onto the frames, you'd need to take a peek now and again to see how things were going, but within a month or two I bet they would have those frames filled, it would then be a case of removing the frames and looking for the queen, and then putting the frames into your standard hive, if you have the queen then brilliant, get as many of the bees on frames out, put the hive where the oil drum sits, with the entrance around the same height, then move the drum 30ft away, all foraging bees will return to the new hive, if you didn't get the queen, they will make a new one with the eggs in the frames, 24hrs later move the drum a lot further away, and if acceptable harvest some of that wild honey thats inside
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