The time, 5 am and Derek from Abello Bees is here to help us relocate the bees from the tree to their new hive. The reason for doing the relocation so early in the morning is to catch as many as bees as possible before they begin the day’s foraging.
After inspecting the hive from the ground, Derek brought his truck around to begin the job. Hopping into our bee suits the job began. First, he sent me up the ladder with a pair of loppers to trim back the branches in and around the hive. Once this was accomplished he set up his Owen’s bee-vac, and showed me how to operate it. Then up the ladder I went to begin vacuuming the bees. The bee-vac is specially designed to suck the bees into a cage, without hurting them. As the bees began to fly around me, I started to suck them up, working from the top of the hive, towards the bottom. This is done to prevent the bees from running up the tree branch and out of reach.
Once most of the bees had been captured using the bee vac. Derek carefully explained what we going to do next. Taking his hive-tool in hand, he began to separate the different sections of the honeycomb. After he cut the first piece, he handed it to me, I took the comb, laid it on a frame, then cut the comb to size, and attached it to the frame with rubber bands. Twice, Derek showed me pieces of honeycomb, where small parts of the comb have larger cells than the rest of the comb. He explained that is a queen cell, where the bees raised new queens before they swarm and create a new hive. Since we saw nothing in either of the cells, we wondered if the bee had swarmed recently or if they were getting ready to swarm in the near future. We continued to transfer the hive to my Langstroth deep supers, piece by piece, frame by frame, we kept going until we could not get any more off the branch. When we had finished transferring the hive, we had filled 12 frames or 2 deep body supers. The estimate was 50 to 70 thousand honey bees.
As a precaution, to prevent the bees from returning to the tree, we cut the branch off the tree completely. Since there was still honey on the branch we put it into a 5 gallon bucket so the bees could move the honey into their new home. Then we headed off to the empty stock-pens at the back of the micro-farm where we were setting up their new home.
We took the 2 supers into one of the stock-pens, and placed them on their stand. Once the supers were in place, I took the cage full of bees and poured them into the stacked supers, and quickly put the roof on. Next to the hive we placed the 5 gallon bucket so they could take the honey from the branch into their new hive hopefully making it an easier transition.