Honeybee Removal from a Barn Wall

February 27, 2015 · 9 comments

wild honeybee hive in a barn wall // Wayward Spark

I have about a million photos to share from our recent trip to check on bees in the almond orchards of Northern California, but before I do that, I wanted to pop in quickly with a few shots from a recent honeybee colony removal that Henry did here locally. I’ve written about bee removals a bunch of times on the blog, and this one was pretty straightforward. Actually, it was even in the exact same barn as the one featured in this post.

The colony was settled in a section of barn wall right under the roof about 8 feet off the ground, so most of the removal activities were performed a few steps up a ladder. I was taking photos over Henry’s shoulder from the ground. Henry had already removed the siding in the area of the colony before I arrived on the scene, and you can see (above) the hive was pretty well established between studs. Henry thinks they probably swarmed in last summer.

honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

He started by smoking them a little and then pulling/cutting out chunks of empty comb and honeycomb.

wild honeycomb // Wayward Sparkhoneycomb // Wayward Spark honeybee removal // Wayward Spark honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

He quickly and carefully removed wax sheets that contained brood.

a frame of wild brood comb // Wayward Spark

He cut out sections of brood comb and used rubber bands to secure them in wooden fames. He placed the frames in an empty hive box.

honeybee removal // Wayward Spark honeybees on comb // Wayward Spark honey hand // Wayward Spark honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

He set honeycomb aside in a bucket, took empty comb home to melt down, and secured all the brood-filled comb in a hive box.

honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

He installed a stand as close as possible to the former colony location and placed the hive box filled with a feeder, frames of honey, and frames of brood on top of the stand.

honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

At this point, he started literally using his hand to scoop up clusters of bees and deposit them in the new box.

honeybee removal // Wayward Spark

He spotted the queen, and nabbed her in a queen catcher. The queen is often shuttled to the back of the hive during a disturbance, so in this instance, she was more or less where he expected her to be. He moved the queen into the new hive box.

smoking honeybees during a removal // Wayward Spark

Then he smoked the heck out of the whole area in order to drive bees from the old colony location into the air where they would reorient to the new hive box with its enticing brood and queen pheromone. Henry Storch of Old Blue Raw Honey // Wayward Spark

Henry got stung a few times, pooped on a few times (the orange bits by his temple and behind his ear), and generally had lots of bees crawling all over him.

Henry Storch of Old Blue Raw Honey // Wayward Spark

There’s the H. Storch Pollination ad photo right here.

wild honeycomb // Wayward Spark

He divvied up the bucket of honeycomb collected from he colony between the owners of the barn and some friends.

A couple days later, Henry picked up the box where the bees were happily established and relocated it to a better location.

If you would like to purchase Old Blue Raw Honey (from our hives not a funky barn wall), we have 10 different varietals available on our website.

 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily February 27, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Fascinating! But how many is a, “few” stings?

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mae February 27, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Ha… I was also wondering this exact same thing!

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Camille March 3, 2015 at 8:51 am

He says it was probably somewhere between 10 and 20 stings.

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Josefine February 28, 2015 at 2:14 am

That is both amazing and absolutely terrifying. I’d love to have bees in the future but gosh darn that’s so scary!!!

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Natalie | Circus & Bloom February 28, 2015 at 9:47 am

This is AMAZING! And so fascinating to me since I’m currently reading The Secret Life of Bees. Such incredible photos, thank you for sharing!

Circus & Bloom
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Jack February 28, 2015 at 10:21 am

Really beautiful photo narrative! Thanks for sharing and helping to dispel the fear of working with bees. And, to demonstrate how much better it is to call a beekeeper to collect a swarm or unwanted hive rather than to exterminate them. As a new beekeeper I was really nervous about getting stung by swarms of angry bees and was then pleasantly surprised by how meditative and fun beekeeping actually is. Keep up the great work!

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C. March 3, 2015 at 8:18 am

Well that is pretty much the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. Your first shot of all the comb in between the wall studs is gorgeous! As is the one of the comb in the bucket with the honey oozing out. I’ve been wondering about the bee relocation process. At the end, did Henry move the hive box to another location on the property? That’s such a neat story to tell about your home and farm (and I bet the owners were pleased not to have that disconcerting buzzing in their walls anymore).

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Camille March 3, 2015 at 8:54 am

Henry actually gave the hive to a high school kid that he’s been working with to care for on his own and use for his “senior project”.

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Kiara Woodsland January 22, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Wow, you’re a lot braver than me! I don’t think someone could have paid me enough to go that close to a bee hive. Even if they were just honey bees. Which brings me to question how you knew how to remove the bee hive? I have a honey bee hive in the attic of my barn that needs to be removed, before spring when the bees decide to come out again.

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