Bee hi-rise

So last week, Robie and I vacuumed up the bees in our porch column. We locked them inside a hive with a bunch of their honeycomb for a couple days in and effort to reset their sense of home. This morning, I put their hive on top of our existing hive with a double screen board. Since I’m pretty sure the queen from the column didn’t make it, they will want to integrate with the old hive. The purpose of the double screen board is to expose the two hives to each other without letting them massacre each other. After a couple days or a week, we’ll remove the double board and let them merge.

Either way, our hive is kinda tall now.

Porch bees

not quite the same as a porch monkey.

Recently, our beehive swarmed and a good portion of them moved into the column of my porch. That was three weeks ago. Last night we opened the column to move them out. WOW! they really moved in.

I got to use my bee vacuum and it worked ok. I was careful to not use to have the airflow too high, but they’re pretty good at hanging on. Next time, I’ll probably go full blast. Hopefully, this will be the last time I need to use it.

The amazing this is how large the honeycombs are. I removed about 5 pieces that were larger the normal hive frames. the frames are about 9"x17". I couldn’t salvage much of it and in the end, it looks like we do have a honey harvest. Will probably get about a gallon plus the beeswax.

Here are some of the bees that ended up in the vacuum. There were many left in the column.

To get the rest of them to move in, I placed the be hive next to where they’re used to living.

The hive has much of their comb in it to attract them. So far, that’s not working. The part that really sucks (as if all this didn’t already suck) is that they don’t want to complete the move. It appears that most of them phoned home and went home.

I’m hoping this means that I managed to not kill the queen (I ended up killing many bees last nigh. it was very sad) and they were protecting her. Hopefully, they will realize that they’re too exposed now and the suggested home really is their best option.

Swarming bees

Bees swarm. Not only do the bees themselves need to reproduce, the hives also reproduce. If there were only one hive throughout time, that wouldn’t bee very prudent. The queen bee mates with several drones from other hives at the beginning of her life. To multiply hives, the hive divides in two and half of it goes somewhere else. If handled correcly by the beekeeper, this is not a problem; you just get more hives. If handled correctly, as in my case, you end up with bees in the column of your porch


Now I need to get them out, which will involve opening the column and scooping the bees into a new hive.

One thing that Glen, the guy that taught the beekeeping class we took a couple months ago talked about was a contraption to enable vacuuming them into a hive box.

Here’s the idea, take the hose of a shop vac, cut it in half and somehow attach the hive box to the two halves. Since I rarely pass up an opportunity to build stuff, I made one of these utilizing an old dust collector that I’d indended to sell but never got around to.

Here is the part that the bees get sucked into. They go through the hole and then ricochet up into the hive. The ramp is dadoed into the box, as you can see from the cut in the second picture where I forgot to reverse the angle.

In addition to the dados, I also added support rails on the back side. The walls only 3/8 plywood, so the dadoes couldn’t be very deep.

Here’s the end that connects to the dust collector. The frame will have hardware cloth stapled to it to keep the bees from coming out the other end.

Here’s the finished product. Air gets sucked through the hose, up through the bottom of the hive box, and out the top through the mesh. It’s better to suck them from the bottom because the honeycomb frames have more space between them down there.

I added some masonite over the hardware cloth to keep the ends from frizzing.

One thing Glen wants to change in his one verion of this is to use a hose with smoother walls. Many of the bees don’t finish the trip alive. I’m thinking I’ll handle this differently by using larger hose. I only have a two foot section of shop vac pipe, which is fairly smooth. The air doesn’t travel as fast in the 4" hose due to he large cross sectional area.

  • 2.25" diameter vs 4" diameter
  • 3.97" squared vs 12.56" squared
  • a 3x difference in velocity once they’re in there.

One thing I’m thinking of doing is rigging up a way to reduce the suction further. Put a wye section on the collector hose with a blast gate. Haven’t done that yet. I think I have the parts for that laying around.



Birds and the Bees

Robie and I took a beekeeping class htis past Saturday and we’ve decided to take the plunge. The guy teaching the class had an extra "Nuc" of bees that we bought from him on Sunday. On Monday morning, I got the stuff needed to setup a hike and last night we moved the bees into their new home. "Nuc" stands for nucleus. You take some of the bees from an existing hive along with a couple frames of honey and larvae and for a new colony. Frames are the honeycomb boards in the hive.