Easy Cutout

Bees forming colony behind a picture.

Bees forming colony behind a picture.

Not long ago I was presented with an opportunity to gather some bees. As usual, until you go look at it, you have to form a picture in your head with the questions you ask and the answers you get. My wife’s friends mother called about bees in her roof – way up at the apex. Based on what she described – and what I saw subsequently of where they were – I was not looking forward to cutting those out. Very high up, very difficult location. But, inexplicably, something happened to change all that.

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Flowers on my property…

Honeybee enjoying a Texas Bluebonnet

Honeybee enjoying a Texas Bluebonnet

Up until I got bees, flowers were just pretty colorful things growing on the weeds in my back yard. And until I got bees, I had no idea just how many flowers I had growing back there – and how many there are. There are just a ton of them back there. Always could be more, of course. There are a few that I’ve yet to identify, but I’ll amend this when I do.

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Disastrous Bee Cutout

Bees top to bottom in wall of shed.

Bees top to bottom in wall of shed.

I had a bee cutout this Saturday to do. Last week I built a bee vacuum, sure it was going to cut my cutouts from four hours to two hours. Yep. Just suck all them bees up then cut and mount the comb at my leisure then pour the bees in when done. That was the idea.

But ideas and reality rarely mesh… Continue reading

Weak Swarm

Swarm with half of the bees out foraging.

Swarm with half of the bees out foraging.

My first swarm of the year hasn’t done a whole lot just yet. But then, the nectar hasn’t really kicked in yet. My other hives are also pretty dry too – they’re certainly ready for the flowers to kick in. Currently we have bluebonnets in bloom and have had a few trees in bloom this season so far so the bees are not starving, but the main flow from the mesquite and wildflowers just hasn’t happened yet.

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Extended Swarm

Five-Day Old Swarm

Five-Day Old Swarm

I have always pictured a swarm as a bunch of bees and the old queen leaving the old hive, hanging out on a tree and then deciding on a new home – in just a few hours, if that. I’ve never heard of a swarm that would hang out overnight. But today’s swarm changed all that.

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First Swarm of the Year

Swarm on Crepe Myrtle

Swarm on Crepe Myrtle

Saturday began like any other day – getting up and realizing that I’m running late.  I rushed to my job to set up some equipment at a convention and while there conducting the work I was to do, I bumped into a fellow beekeeper. In these parts that’s a pretty good thing – there are precious few of us around here. It was really refreshing to actually sit down and talk bees to someone who was as interested in bees as myself. Talking bees to my wife elicits little more than a glazed over, blank stare. Little did I know, that meeting would be an odd coincidence, or a herald to yet another hive to enter my apiary.

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Swarm!!!

Cutout JHH-style Hive with swarm bearding on it.

Cutout JHH-style Hive with swarm bearding on it.

There’s always an occasion where you take a hive and split it. You take half of the hive and put it in another box, and the one without the queen will make a new queen from the open-brood left over. This mimics the natural way of hive multiplication, that colonies do in nature – swarming. Well, one of my hives swarmed. I think it was today, tho it could have happened yesterday. It was fairly anticlimactic tho – as I had an empty cutout hive out there – a short version of my long-hive design.

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Fire-Ant Catastrophy

Wood JHH Style Cutout Hive

Wood JHH Style Cutout Hive

A while back a co-worker notified me of a lightning damaged tree that had bees in it. The city had tried to remove the tree by pulling it over, and the top split off down the side, exposing the hive. Needless to say, they scooted out of there pronto. I’m sure they were planning on coming back with some poison later, so this became a rescue operation, as are most cutouts.

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Frame Jig

Frame Jig from scrap wood

Frame jig from scrap wood.

Putting together frames is actually a pretty simple thing, but if you’re doing a lot of them, it helps to have a jig of sorts. There’s a great design for a frame jig over at BeeSource.com but I had a cutout very soon, not a lot of fancy wood-working tools and just some scrap wood to work with and not the time to mull over it so I simplified it a bit for my current project.

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Second Cutout

100% Cotton Strips for Comb Hammock Method

100% Cotton Strips for Comb Hammock Method

As you have no doubt gathered, from reading my previous posts, a cutout is the act of cutting a hive out of a cavity where it is not wanted. Such as, out of a wall or a tree. I’ve yet to do a tree and may not do trees tho I will be putting out swarm-traps by several local bee-trees. But I’ve done a wall cutout, and today, I have done a well-cover. Both times were enjoyable, from a hard-working perspective. Wasn’t easy by a long-shot, but it was very rewarding. This time around, I had the help of the son of the owner of the property from which I was removing the bees, and that help was a true blessing. The final fruit of this removal is a top-bar hive with several brood-combs, several honey-combs and thousands of bees happily at home. Another colony rescued.

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