Bees were living in this stack of theater equipment and i was called to remove them.
The homeowner was a local drama teacher, & the bees moved into these pieces of stage
being stored in the backyard. You can see how the bees were using this rotted out hole as the entrance to their hive.
After the stage pieces were disassembled, I got my first good look at the hive & it was just beautiful!
I could tell from all the fresh comb that it didn't look like the bees had been here
for too long, but they were very active and while there were a lot of bees flying around they were
not aggressive or trying to sting me at all. So I set the new hive as close to the stage as possible
i thought this would help the bees get into it a bit more easily when they were ready for it.
But first I would have to get most of the comb and the colony and hopefully the queen into the new hive,
So i got to work. I knew that i would have to take extra care when working with this hive
...the beeswax comb was so soft and delicate and I wanted to keep it all as intact as possible
So i did my best to hold the comb together as I removed the first piece of the hive.
This piece had some food on it so I took a moment to look for the queen but I didn't see her.
So I put this piece into a frame of the new hive using rubber bands
then i used my smoker to clear the bees from the next piece of comb that I needed to remove.
This piece was just as soft and flimsy as the first and it broke in half as i grabbed it but
the bees could still use everything inside of it and they would even put it back together.
So I carefully put it into the new hive and I did the same thing with the rest of this piece.
Then I paused for a moment to just observe the bees and to see if i could find the queen.
And that's when I saw one of my all-time favorite bee behaviors to see inside the hive!
The bee in the center of all the other bees who is shaking her abdomen and walking around in circles is actually
doing that to communicate with the other bees. She is telling them the distance and direction to fly
to find the best flowers for food. And if you think it looks like she is dancing... you're thinking like a beekeeper
because beekeepers lovingly call this the Waggle Dance and it looked like these dancing
bees were doing their job quite well because this hive had a wonderful supply of pollen.
And while I could have sat there and just watched the bees all day it was time to get back to work.
This next piece of comb was full of worker brood pollen and nectar and it was an essential part of
the hive so i secured it into a frame and I put it into the new hive as carefully as possible.
Then I used my smoker to gently clear the bees from the next piece of comb
and you can see how the bees scurried away from the smoke just as you or I would.
This next piece of comb was full of even more brood and food than the last and it had
everything a healthy colony needed this time of year. All of the cells with cappings on them were full of
worker brood and that was almost a sure sign of a queen. You can see the capped brood on the bottom
and some bright beautiful pollen being stored above it which is what the nurse bees use to
feed the baby bees. So I slowly slid this piece of comb into a frame alongside the others and I put
everything into the new hive. And since I had not yet seen the queen, I gave the bee some more smoke
to clear them off the comb so i could look for her and that's when all of a sudden I saw the queen!
At first she was mostly covered up by the other bees, but then she crawled her way through and I could
see her entire body and that's when I saw it! This queen bee was laying an egg! That's not a stinger
you see that's an actual bee egg and she was in the middle of laying it. So i grabbed my
queen clip and I wanted to get her in the new hive right away. A queen clip is a beekeeping tool designed
to hold a queen inside but let the other bees who are smaller easily enter and exit to care for her.
But as soon as i put this queen in the clip... she crawled right out. So after she crawled into my
hand I put her in the clip again but this time I would make sure it would hold her safely inside.
So I grabbed a rubber band and i started to wrap it around the opening of the clip where
she was escaping from. I usually do this in most of my removals just for added insurance,
which is something i learned from having one too many queens escape from the clip and swarm on me.
And I took some extra time and care to make sure this queen wasn't going anywhere.
So after i felt like she was safe, I put her in the new hive and I got back to work. I still had
a few more pieces of comb and a lot of bees to get into the new hive and while I was working I was
thinking of the queen and hoping she wouldn't find her way out of the clip. The bees can chew through
the rubber bands, but only if they really want to and it could take them days. And even if the queen did
escape from the clip again, the bees would let me know because all of the bees already in the
hive would start to follow the queen out. A honeybee colony is a super organism which means that
it's a collective of individual bees acting in synergy for the benefit of the community.
And that's what they were doing as we all work together to get them into the new hive
as I speed this up you can see the bees on the stage behind me all move together in a group
into the new hive. That's because their queen was in there & they were starting to recognize this
as their new home so they were working together to make sure that
every bee in the colony knew where to go and how to get there. But some of the bees still needed a bit of encouragement.
So I used my smoker to create a cloud of smoke around the bees to herd them into the new hive
then I just waited and watched as the bees followed their colony into their new home
there were plenty of bees at the entrance of the hive who were fanning pheromones from a special gland
in their abdomen to let the other bees know where to go and there were a lot of bees
following them into the new hive over time as more and more bees started to pick up on those scents
more and more bees would go into the new hive to be with their queen. But there was a group
of bees that didn't seem to want to go in, so i scooped them up with my hands. To me, scooping
bees seems like the most gentle way to get bees from one place to another. So after I scooped as
many bees as I could, I scraped the last bit of comb off the stage and put it into the new hive
I also used this time to check on the queen I could see that she was still inside of the clip
in that a bunch of other bees had joined her to take care of her which was a great sign.
Since it looked like she wasn't going anywhere, I put her into the new hive. Then i just waited and
watched for more bees to move into the new hive. And after I waited long enough, most of the colony
was in the new hive with their queen. So I began to put the cover on the hive but the entrance
would still remain completely open so that any straggler bees could get in and so the bees would
have plenty of ventilation for the drive home. And since the hive is just pieces stacked on top of
one another and they're not attached in any way, I used a bungee cord to hold everything together.
Once I felt like everything was secure, it was time for me and the bees to go home.
So I picked up the hive, I loaded it into my truck, and it was another great day of saving the bees!