Duff Green Removal, Part 2 (Or How I learned to avoid the sting and love the bomb.)

So most of the time, when I get a call to remove bees, it is because the bees have begun to migrate inside the house.

Not this time.

This was the second hive removal from Duff Green, and the one that I was most worried about.  With the first removal, I was able to stand, kneel, sit, stoop, and walk around the hive until I was able to pry the eave bracket from the wall.  The closest to danger I got was dropping the four feet from the roof to the balcony.  Significant risk to my pride, but no real consequence, since nobody was watching me do it.

The height of the second hive, combined with the fact that there was no easy access, meant that I needed help.

Help came.

Boom.

With the assistance of the truck, I was able to spend my attention on the bees, rather than whether I was able to keep my balance on an extension ladder. 
The hive was visible on the outside of the building, certainly a result of the hive running out of space inside one of the two eave brackets on either side of it.  The comb was attached to both, so it could have been either one…. and I was hoping for the one closer to the truck.  Otherwise, I would be reaching out around the corner to proceed.
But first things first, I started cutting down the comb.
The comb on the outside of the building was very friable.  The bees had sucked out all of the goodie from the comb, leaving a dry waxy husk.  The second and third layers were the same.  Brightly colored comb, with minimal evidence of use.
Two sections removed.  Photo: Kathe Lawton
Then the bees started appearing.  It was a cold day, so there was minimal activity.  Mostly just a couple of flybys telling me to buzz off.   At this point, Mr. Wright, who had accompanied me in the lift up until this point, decided that the roof was a better place from which to direct and observe.  

Each of the successive sheets of comb had more brood and bees on it, and the girls got a little more defensive with each step.  But at the end of the ten pieces of comb, I cleared off the remaining bees to figure out where the entrance to the larger part of the hive was, and I found…
Nothing.
The bees were not accessing the inside of the structure at all.  Like wasps or hornets, they had built the entire thing on the outside of the building, exposed to the elements.
As a result, they were not as strong as the group that had hunkered down in the eave bracket.  Their numbers were reduced, and there was maybe some evidence of a predator trying to gain access.  Very little honey remained, and they were not doing a great job of foraging.  The weather has been pretty rotten – wet and cold alternating in a bad foraging arrangement – so it is possible that they just couldn’t keep up. 
The entire group went pretty docilely into the box, and I followed up with a clean-up of the corner, including a dosage of pyrethrins (hornet spray), to discourage future swarms from taking up residence.  Half hour later, and I had the box carefully stowed, the extra way set aside for melting down, the clean up complete, and the truck driver on his way.
Now to hope that they can weather a couple of cold nights in their new complex.  Fingers crossed.
Come out! (Photo: Kathe Lawton)
Heart-shaped hole in the comb.  
I need a fish-eye lens to get the full picture. (Photos: Kathe Lawton)
Postscript:  two of my most common questions:
How do you avoid getting stung? (Um, I haven’t figured out how to avoid it, yet.)
How many times do you get stung during something like this? (I really don’t know.).
I am not sure how to explain it.  This weekend, I was working with Stephen Coy down in Wiggins, MS, with his operations down there.  While I was working, I started getting stung.  A few bees made it up my pants leg, and started to let me know they were there, in a final gesture sort of way.
The first one, I noted, and kept working.  The second one, I noted, and kept working.  The third one, I figured I had a problem, and moved to the side to deal with it.
But getting stung is just part of the process – not something you go after, just something that happens.  And at some point, you notice, but are too focused on the task to pay attention to the mounting count of stings.  
So I don’t know.  I can usually get a count by the welts. But especially if the bees sting through the shirt, only a little venom gets in, and I might not react. 
The bees react, though.  More stings means more fight pheromones in the air.  Means more stings. 
So not getting stung seems one of the best ways to avoid getting stung.  Now if I can just manage that….

Published by Company Bee

Novice beekeeper trying to help out.

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