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moving a colony of bees out of the walls of a house

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Posts: 48416
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Location: woodland, washington
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not a fan of the bee-vac myself. there are times when it may be all but necessary to use one, but I would say the chap in this video overdid it substantially.

if 95% of those bees really did survive, my guess is that a majority of them ended up mangled to a greater or lesser degree. bees are surprisingly tenacious when they've got a hold on something, so it takes a fair amount of force to suck them up in a vacuum. enough force, in fact, to reliably injure them on the way down the hose.

that said, most beeks that use bee-vacs adjust the force of the vacuum to be as low as possible while still being able to pull off the bees. chances are good that this fellow did the same.

I'm pretty sure that most of that brood in the video died, too. it looked like he was just piling the comb in buckets, but it wasn't entirely clear. I'm not really well connected in beekeeping circles, but all the folks I've spoken with who have done cutouts attach at least a portion of the comb to frames or top bars and put them into a hive with bees on the comb. after the comb is in a hive box, bees are given access and follow the brood pheromones back to the comb. the bees are able to keep tending to the brood and keeping it warm. if all the bees are vacuumed off the comb and kept sealed up, the brood will not be fed or warmed and will perish fairly quickly.

after all the comb is removed, then the bee-vac would be appropriate to use to gather up any foragers and stragglers that didn't follow the brood. even then, I try to collect as many bees as I can with some stout feathers and a piece of cardboard, as that is far gentler than even a well-adjusted vacuum.

anyhow, dif'rent strokes, I guess. the beek in the video had some pretty specialized equipment, so I would guess that he's done a few of these before.

if anybody in the Portland or Clark/Cowlitz area wants to help out on a cut out, this is the time of year when I start getting more calls and it's nice to have an extra body or two around. the swarms that discretely moved into folks' walls a month or two ago will have a large enough population by now that the homeowners start to notice them. the most recent was on Thursday in West Linn.

every time I've ever had somebody to help me with these, it was that person's first time doing a cutout, and only once had the person ever even handled bees at all. it's intimidating to think about, but don't be shy just because you don't have experience with bees. it's sure a hoot.
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I know someone who was forced to do this. Exxept it was in an oak tree hollow. The idiotic owners demanded it be taken out even though it was far from the home in a very rural place. The bees were causing no harm. Well even though care was taken the bee vac killed most of the bees and damaged more. We wanted to leave the bees but there was no way to convince the owner. The colony was basically destroyed and we ended up adding the bees to one of our existing hives at home.

I'll say in some situations like the video it's ok but the bee vac seems a bit harsh IMO.
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