I left you hanging out there in the wind.
Public Service Announcement: Can I just add, I did this once before in August. The bees were inside a greenhouse. It was over 100 degrees outside. I much prefer doing this in December. I did not break a sweat once!
We had some nice temperatures on this particular day, but I knew these girls would be in major survival mode. I was pretty certain they would get very angry with me. I mean, they were already going to great lengths to survive, what would stop them from really getting aggressive about their home?
Once I got all of my gear in place and set up, they were still relatively calm. I had not even received a warning fly-by-with-a-stern-talking-to at this point. The only thing to do was just get right to it, so I did. I tried first vacuuming the bees between the rows of comb. That did not really work. I was only getting the very few bees on the edge, but was unable to get into the center and back areas. This left me the only option of taking one section down at a time. I started on the right side and was very surprised to find that the outside pieces of comb were crunchy. I mean, Lays Potato Chip Crunchy! Comb is normally very soft and very sticky. After all, it is wax. Basically the outside sections were garbage and the bees knew that. They weren't using them for anything other than a wind block.
Once I got more into the middle sections, it became a little more interesting. The bees really shocked me at this point because they were not aggressive at all. As you can see in the video on the previous post, I am using a vacuum to remove them. Please know that this is not a standard shop vacuum. If you were ever to try to do this with a regular shop vacuum, you would end up with a lot of dead bees. The suction is too strong, and the force of being sucked into the vacuum would kill them. I am using a shop vacuum, but it is running through a bee vacuum box. This allows the bees to enter into a hive body instead of the vacuum tank. It is also built in a way that will allow me to control the suction. As I said earlier, I have only used this once, and my intentions were to have it painted before this season started. Who knew it would be starting in December. So, sorry, I have no pictures of the unit at this time. I will get right on that.
Once the process got started, it went pretty smoothly. The bees really hang on to the comb, and the goal is to just have enough suction to pull them off. The real issue is the honey. Once you get into the comb, there is always honey. It is messy. It is sticky. It gets on your gloves. On your tools. On your ladder. You just do everything that you can not to suck it up in the vacuum. This will just lead to a lot of sticky bees clogging the hose.
That is not good for anyone.
I would say from start-to-finish, it took about two hours. Most of that is unloading and setting up, then the reverse at the end. I have to hope that I got the queen in all of this. I did not actually lay eyes on her, but there were several clumps of bees that were vacuumed and you just have to hope that she was in one. I do know that there were larvae in the comb, so if they need to, they have the ability to raise a queen. They are now relocated in a hive box with frames of empty comb and frames of honey. I am feeding them, and we will see what happens from here. I was very shocked at how polite they were considering how destructive I was. I am hoping that we continue a great relationship this year.
I'll keep you posted.