2010-02-21 The Dairy Hive

Adrian got a call from an old friend, he lived in the old dairy residence in Yarra Glen, an old registered double brick building. Bees had taken up residence in one of the wall vents. We planned to get the bees out, and made a vacuum-powered bee-sucker, the "Swarm-Master 2010", to help us extract them. Unlike when bees are in a branch of a tree, you cant just shake them into a box. In fact, this was not a swarm, but a well-established hive that had been there for a while, filled the space with comb, and was in fact overflowing.....

The old dairy. The bees are under the eaves, in the corner.

The old vent. There was a reasonable hole in the flywire, behind that was a rusty punched metal grille.

Adrian, and the guy who lived there with his wife and kids.

Grille off, start sucking.....

Not the most comfortable way to work.
That's me, with electrical tape holding my gloves tight.
we were there for hours, those gloves were disgustingly sweaty by the end. Hot day.

So here's the swarm-master:
The vacuum sucks into the bottom of the white bucket.
The bucket has a flywire screen an inch from the bottom.
The lid of the bucket has another hose (washing machine hose).
The vac has a throttle, and we ended up punching some extra holes into the bucket to regulate the pressure.
WE kept the power at a minimum, so as to reduce the damage to the bees, as they were sucked down the black tunnel of death.

Immediately under the grille was a block of wood, with comb all around it.
We hacked out the comb until we could shimmy the block of wood out.

Behind the bit of wood, was a brick.
The comb wrapped around beautifully.
Honey dripping everywhere, the bees were a little pissed off.
we got stung quite a few times here, mostly through the gloves where they were accidentally pinched between fingers.

That's adrian, with the gloves off......

The intact comb that we got out we wired to frames, pushed them onto the wire.
The box in the background, we emptied the swarm-master bucket into this every so often, as it filled up.
this got trickier as the box filled up.
We blocked the holes, as they were escaping at the same rate that we were catching them.
This just made them even more pissed off, as it got hotter in there.
The frame at the top has the comb with a brick-sized hole, which we filled up with some other comb.
At right is the old vent that we removed to get at the bees.

Plenty of brood, and lots of Capped honey.
Tied to frames, pushed onto wire, and put into the box with all the bees,
and I think four empty frames (with just foundation).

Out of the comb that was smashed up, we got two good jars of honey, quite sharp,
and with lots of brick-dust and debris in it.

This hive died out the following winter.
(refer other blog entry "the dairy hive is dead" for the post-mortem)
We're sure that the queen survived this ordeal, but the hive was never quite right.
Because of how we put the comb in, much of it was off-centre on the frame,
lots of random burr-comb and freestyle wax-building.
Every time we opened it up we'd bust the cells open, honey would go everywhere.

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