Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back with Bees

Randy had made contact with a gas company with a bee problem in the employee recreation area.  It was a massive hive in a tree.  Randy sent out several calls for assistance and a fine crew showed up..
We arrived at 8:30 ready to work but in this day and age nothing is simple in the industrial world  We signed forms and attended a short film about visiting the plant and all the rules.  About an hour later we go to the tree to find this. It was a beautiful open air hive
Big hive and lots of bees.
Laura and her son Ethan.  He is a rock climber and got to do some high work assisting Randy who started out by climbing up into the tree.
The Ground Crew, Laura, Dennis and Josip.
Randy, Team Leader
Once up in the tree, Randy scoped out the job, sprayed the bees with sugar water and started cutting out comb.
Ed, our intrepid photog pointing to the real action in the tree.
The ground crew in action, taking the comb and putting it into frames. Because the bees had built the hive into a dense mass there were relatively few frames of comb for the hives.  About 8 frames for the standard super and 4-5 for the medium was all Josip could salvage.
Ethan on his ladder perch waiting for more comb to come down.
We removed the lid from the trunk and it became a platform for all the later work.  It worked very well but I soon found out what the bees thought of it when I say it spattered with golden bee poop.
The company had the area well marked and cordoned off.  Nice big signs too.
At this point, the lower portions of the hive have been removed and Randy and Josip are cutting down the hive limb and all.  It was cut loose and lowered to make the comb removal easier
Josip and Randy with their prize
Ethan takes over the hive
Still lots of bees on the hive.
Bees bees bees and some sticks and pine litter.  This part of the hive was all mashed together with little definition between panes of comb.  We cut it out slowing trying to maintain intact pieces but it was a losing battle most of the time.  Earlier the bees had been quite agitated but calmed down at this point.  Later when Randy went back up to collect those still gathering around the old hive site, they got hinky again.
This is the bulk of the bees.  We did not see the queen but she may have gone in when we did a number of shakes of the hive branch.  The bees were acting like she was there..  Josep added the medium super to the hive also. 
Randy, Laura, Ethan and Josep when we were done.  This hive will remain on site over night.  Josip and Randy will pick it up as soon as the guard shack opens tomorrow morning.
This was another good job by Backwards Beekeepers taking care of a bee problem at an industrial site..    On another front, Randy and I will be looking for replacement bees in the Spring.  In spite of our good intentions, the Mission Bees decided they could find a better home and left.  We had also installed bees at an Ashram, those bees left too. All prayers to St Sebastion, patron saint of bees, could not convince them to stay.  We will find some bees that know a good home come next Spring.  You can count on it.

 Golden bee poop...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Over The Hill

The Backwards Beekeepers Hotline had a couple calls from Palos Verdes that Randy checked out and discovered they were related.  Bob, an ex-sailor Pearl Harbor survivor, had a hive of bees under his eaves and the neighbors were nervous.  Ken who lives down the street decided he could safely house the bees if Randy assisted in obtaining a hive and every thing else. Done deal and once a date was selected we arrived.
This was a nice hive, fully exposed just under the eaves about 10 ft up.

It was a good looking hive, just getting active when we started.
Once the Mighty Bee Vac was hooked up Randy was up the ladder and collecting bees.

As always, Randy is the point man on the ladder.  I am the ground guy.

Bees started to show up in the collection super immediately.

As the Bee Vac does its job the comb comes into view.

And there are a lot more bees in the super.

Ted from across the street came over to take the picture (thanks, Ted, he gave me 300 of them on a disc,)  We like to involve every one so Ted got his shot at collecting bees.

Most of the bees on the outside are gone and Randy started to cut out the comb.

There was a lot of drone comb which I left if the piece fit the frame nicely.

This was one of several queen cells we found.  The brood we found looked okay to us  but the hive may have planned to replace the queen for some reason.  We don't know, only the bugs know.

A nice frame of brood.  Once the small outer comb was removed Randy used an empty frame to measure and cut out proper sized pieces of comb.  That made putting it into the frames very easy.
Bob, the home owner had a very nice front row seat all morning long.
Another queen cell

More good looking brood

The standard hive body is full of comb

And Randy is still bring down more comb.

We were lucky to have a nuc with some medium frames for the remainder of the comb.

The comb is all clear but when Randy checked the vent holes one did not have screen, there were more bees inside. Later he fashioned a bee escape and put it in place.  The returning bees should hang around on the outside overnight and Randy will return early tomorrow with his bee vac to collect them.  He will also set up a trap out near by.

I thought we had most of the bees in the Bee Vac.  Where are these coming from?

Bob was interested in everything, as long as it stayed outside and moved on later.

The Bee Vac collection hive is very full.
After vacuuming many many bees off that kept gathering on the nuc and full super I realized these were mainly robber bees looking for free honey.  Standing back on the sidewalk you could see them coming straight down to the area.  Once we moved the nuc and other pieces away from the area the bees left.  We took the bees and supers down the street and Randy installed them in their new home.  With all that brood they should stay there.  I have no idea what was going to happen to the thousand or so robber bees that got sucked up through the Bee Vac in to the collection hive.  Sometimes bees make bad decisions.  When we finally got done Randy headed off to collect a swarm and Norwalk and I drove home for a nap.  It was a long but good day.  One man got rid of bees he did not want another got a new hive.  It was a very good day in our bee world.  Thanks to Randy for doing the hard and high parts and to Ted for all the photos. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

San Gabriel Mission Video

This is Randy up in the bee chamber on the first day.   This space houses the bellows of the Church Organ. This is unedited video shot while Randy cut comb and I was about 20 feet below on solid ground.  When he moves the camera around, about 60 sec in, you will see a the marks left by previous hives that has called this space home.  Someone needs to seal this space up better when we are done this time.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mission Accomplished (Revised)

DAY ONE  of removing the bees at San Gabriel Mission with only a two man crew.  That sounded reasonable until Randy climbed up for his inspection.

The bees definitely had  Room With A View

Randy did all of the work up high, cutting comb and lowering it to me to store or put into frames.
This is what Randy found inside.  11 combs about three feet long.  Sweeet. But it turned out to be more than our two man crew could handle in the time we had.
With only the two of us to do the job,Randy kept it simple and cut the bottom off many of the combs. We collected the honey and filled some frames in a super.

I got to do the ground level work, filling frames with comb. This turned out to be a waste of resources. We left the super on site and the ants infested the comb. We worked three and a half hours until it became clear we needed more bodies and equipment to do the job.  The garden area was opening for public tours so we called it a day and I went home to look for help.  There was too much going on at the Mission on Sunday so we made plans for another try on Monday.
DAY TWO  and we had a full crew.  Randy and I were joined by James &; Yuka Lui, Ed Garcia and Josip.  This time we had enough people to deal with the bees.
In the time since Randy cut the original comb down the bees had sealed all the comb ends.

James brought his small bee vac which was perfect in the limited space.  His blue container and hoist got a good work out and were more efficient that the bucket on a rope that Randy and I had used.
Randy is doing the vacuuming with James on the hose.
Yuka watching James on the high board.

Yuka while she waits for honey and comb to come down to us and start filling frames..
While we waited for the first comb to come down, Ed was taking atmosphere shots to prove we were really at the Mission
Josip under the 200 year old grape vine in the garden.

Josip and the 200 year old grape vine.
Josip learns the history of San Gabriel wine from our host Chuck Lyons of the Mission staff,

Josip , Dennis and James
The bulk of the bees were captured when the comb was removed but there was a large mass hanging out above the original entry point.   James went up and vacuumed them up too.

We had fifteen frames of comb with brood, pollen and some honey when we were done.  No one saw the queen but the bees seemed want to stay with their new home.  These on the outside would be vacuumed up before transport and added later.

Ed and Randy playing with the bees.  Once again the bees  were remarkably calm for having their home destroyed. This was sort of like Hurricane Katrina and we were FEMA, a good friendly FEMA.
While we were working the bees, Jose, maintenance man for the Mission, fashioned a table for the hive that will help keep ants out of the hive once the legs are set in oil.
Bees on the move as we take them to their new home site

The old pathways were rough on the cart but it beat having to carry a hive of bees around the grounds.,

Fr Serra will keep an eye on his winged charges across this part of the old water system at the Mission.
This small fenced area will be well away from Mission visitors.  The hive faces the wall so the bees should fly up and over the roof of the  gift shop.  It is under a big avocado tree, along with the normal garden plants there will be plenty sources for nectar and pollen. 
We still had that last bunch of bees from over the door to add to the hive
Randy added an empty super to help contain them and dumped the bees in.  He will remove the hive next weekend.
The hive in its new location.  Here's hoping they elect to stay and not go back to their old haunts.  When he has time Jose will go up there and power wash all the old honey and comb pieces before sealing the old entry ways to room on the church wall. 
This was another fine example of work done by the Backwards Beekeepers and LA Bee Rescue.  Big thanks to Ed, James, Yuka and Josip for making it much easier.  A special thanks to Randy who was there both days and did most of the high work.  For now it looks like I will be the de facto Official Beekeeper for San Gabriel Mission.  It is a long drive from my house to the Mission, if anyone closer to the Mission  would like to take up the Mantle of Official Beek, please let me know.  Your pay will be in honey, indulgences and novenas.