Hive Cutout in Southwest Albuquerque
August 15-16, 2020
Each honey bee removal cutout is unique because honey bee colonies will find their way into the most unlikely of places to establish a beehive, raise their brood, and store honey. The cutout that I performed at a home on the West side of Albuquerque in the summer of 2020 was no exception.
I received a tip from a fellow beekeeper that a woman had contacted her regarding some bees in her shed. Every time I hear the phrase “bees in my shed,” my mind jumps to paper wasps as that is the most common thing we find in wood sheds here in Albuquerque.
After insisting they were bees, I scheduled an appointment to go check out the shed. Upon arriving I noticed the unmistakable sign of honey bees with their distinctive red and black abdomens.
My initial impression was that the bees were entering the shed in the lower left corner and making their hive underneath the floor. This was going to be a challenge!
A couple weeks later, I arrived on a Saturday morning to get started on the removal. I confirmed my suspicions on the hive location by digging a test hole on the outside corner.
It was at that point that I decided that the best course of action would be to cut through the floor of the shed and remove them from the inside. All other options were determined to be too dangerous and not as effective.
So, I got work clearing out the contents. The homeowner informed me that she had approximately 18 yrs. of belongings stored in there.
It took approximately 4 hours to remove everything including some breakable items that had not been packaged! Fortunately, nothing was broken in the process.
At that point, I began staging all of my equipment including my bee vac, saw, hive tool, drill, and other necessary items.
Before I began cutting, I developed a plan on how I wanted to remove the bees and imagined the progression in my head.
It’s important to think through the process, imagine what could go wrong, and mitigate safety risks. Safety First!!!
To start, I cut a test hole in the floor to confirm the location of the bees.
There's always some guesswork as to where exactly the bees are located.
I figured that the bees were located on the side closest to the entrance, but I wasn't sure how far back they had built their comb.
My first cut was a success. I found honeycomb immediately and began to strategize on where to go next.
I figured I would cut towards the opening and continuously evaluate as I go.
I opened up a 3’ x 1’ section of the floor and turned it upside down to expose the bees and honeycomb.
My first thought was this was a well established hive with lots of bees. The homeowner had a garden right next to the shed and it looked like the bees were really happy there.
I began to use my bee vacuum to gently suck up the bees and got to work salvaging brood and honey.
After the first section was completed, I cut another section and repeated the process. The honeycomb ended up in a bucket for honey extraction and the brood was fitted into Langstroth frames.
I was only able to get through two cuts of the floor before it was time to call it a day. This was going to be a two-day job.
I arrived at the jobsite the next morning and quickly got to work.
I made additional cuts, sucked up more bees, and salvaged more comb. It was a long and tedious process that required patience and perseverance.
It took me an additional eight hours on the second day of removal to get all the rest of the bees.
It was able to get 100% of the comb and approximately 99% of the bees.
You just can’t quite get all of the bees, but you can get close.
The remainder of the bees lived out their remaining days in an empty hive devoid of a queen and her worker bees.
Since bees have a life span of about 6 weeks in the summer, I expected the shed to be completely empty a few weeks later.
While I didn’t spot the queen bee during the removal, I wasn’t too worried about it.
If by some chance she remained in the shed, she wouldn’t be able to continue the colony due to a lack of food and worker bees.
I took the bees and gave them a new home in my apiary.
A couple weeks later I determined that the queen had not survived the removal, but her fellow workers were busy raising a new one.
A few weeks later a new queen had emerged, mated, and was busy laying eggs.
The colony was queen right and busy making honey & raising brood.
This removal was a success!