The first hive at this location set themselves up underneath the home. Every stump under the home had a bit of a tilt to it which made it slightly worrying when we had to go under the home.
After completing everything we could from under the home we began work from the outside. This involved cutting one weatherboard in a way that would allow it to be easily reattached. By removing this weatherboard we were more easily able to access the hive however it opened up a bunch of cavities. Bees will begin to climb upwards as their comb is removed so having open cavities would mean we would lose bees up into the wall of the house. By blocking the cavities before we cut comb we're preventing the loss of bees.
Given the hive was under the home we now looked forward to quite a few hours on our stomach and our side as we carefully relocated the comb to the hive box.
Where possible we avoid relocating bees during winter as the colder temperatures are not good for the baby bees (Brood) because they need to stay warm to stay alive. The bees generally keep the hive at a constant temperature throughout the year to help the brood.
This relocation was completed during winter because the home was being renovated and the renovation had been put on hold until the bees were relocated
The bees had filled their comb with all the honey they would need to get through winter and more. In this instance there was too much honey to put it all in the hive box so we kept some separate to feed back to the bees as needed with a little being kept for sampling.
With Brood, Honey, Pollen and Queen in the hive box we now move the box so its entrance is as close as possible to the old hive entrance. This way any returning foragers are able to find their way into the new hive more easily.
Some of the bees on the new hive box are sticking their bottoms in the air and fanning their wings. They are releasing a pheromone which is telling the bees on the old hive and the returning foragers that we are now over here... come and join us as this is a good place to be out of the wind and cold plus we have the queen here too.
Five days later the remaining bees have all relocated to the new hive and are working inside the hive quickly rearranging the furniture to their needs.
After completing the first hive we found bees not responding to the hive as they should be. The day was not overly warm which meant there shouldn't be many bees flying too far from their own hives to explore where we were working. This meant there had to be another hive very close by. Or directly above us as this case shows.
Being an old dwelling there were many gaps between the weatherboards. This is perfect for the bees to gain access to the wall cavities and make a nice warm home.
Looking through the thermal camera we are able to see where the hive is located in the wall and get a rough idea of its size.
The owner of this property plans to replace the wall board sheeting with plaster. This meant it would be better to relocate the hive from inside the home. The thermal camera shows us where the bulk of the bees are which makes it much easier to safely cut into the wall. The thermal camera does not show the full hive as over winter the bees contract to conserve warmth, the cold comb left behind will not show up on the thermal camera.
The thermal camera more easily gave us the position of the bulk of the hive so we could mark the boundaries and begin to cut through the wall.
The hive is now exposed allowing us to see how winter has forced the bees to congregate into a much smaller cluster than they would do during spring and summer. During spring and summer this comb would be totally overflowing with bees.
In order to help the bees survive the remainder of winter in their new location we need to shrink the hive to the smallest possible size so the remaining bees are able to keep their new home at the required temperature.
We use eight frame boxes during a relocation however if we kept this hive in an eight frame box it wouldn't survive the remainder of winter. As such when this hive is moved to our quarantine apiary from their current location they will be transferred into a four frame box and fed a lot of honey and pollen to ensure they survive.
The excess wax will be rendered into wax blocks ready to be used in other forms.
When doing an internal cutout we must ensure we block all exits from the room so we don't lose any bees to the outside world. This includes making sure all doors and windows are firmly closed and that the bees own hive entrance is also blocked.
By doing this we are able to catch all the remaining bees, including the queen, once the comb is removed and boxed.
Once the comb is boxed it is now time to prepare to use the bee vacuum to suck the remaining bees in to the hive.
We used to have to suck the excess bees into a separate box then transfer them once we arrived at our quarantine apiary however using one of our winter feeders allows us to suck the remaining bees directly into the hive with their queen and comb.
The bee vacuum is much harder on the bees so it is only used under certain circumstances. Internal home relocations being one of the times where this is a requirement. It allows the relocation to be finished in one day however requires much more work after the cutout to ensure the hive survives. Also we never let the queen go through the bee vacuum hose, she is always found and placed in the box before we use the vacuum to ensure she is not overly stressed.
The old hive has now been relocated and the remaining bees have joined their sisters within the new hive. We give the home the twice over to double check we have all the bees.
Both hives have now been packed away ready for transport back to our quarantine apiary. The trades are now able to return to work and replace the one weatherboard that needed removing.
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