Wine Barrel Hive – Cutout Complete

A very successful cutout today of the Wine Barrel Hive though my dad and I almost fainted today as it was 85F out but inside this cotton beesuit it must have been 100+ because the sweat from my forehead kept running into my eyes and down, but at the end we survive. This cutout was done at home as we brought the wine barrel back to our beeyard in Los Altos, so it made the entire process easier.

We started by setting up all the equipment in place such as hive bodies, frames with rubber band around them ready to cut out and put in brood combs, bee vac stacked and sealed, hammer and other tools to get the barrel rings off, and other misc tools.

After setting up all the equipment it was time to suit up. We got there as I started to remove the rings one by one until we were able to get each plank off, my dad started vacuuming the bees that were coming out of the entrance.

As I was able to get the barrel apart, we started working each section at a time. Opening it, looking inside and then carefully removing any bees and combs before pulling off the piece of wood.

Before we vacuumed the bees or removed a comb we would carefully look for the queen. When working with bees you have to move really slow and have a lot of patience. The picture below we are peeking into the next section.

After removing a few more pieces of the barrel we were able to get an entire view of the inside and what happened. As we look inside we noticed a MOUND of honey combs on the bottom, stacked ontop of each other when they detached from the top and dropped to the floor. BUT good thing there are still a good amount of bees inside the Wine Barrel hive. And the combs that were attached to the sides of the barrel were still intact. Well, most of those were honey combs except one that you see in the picture below. We were only able to rubberband one frame of brood combs.

We kept at it  in the heat and it didn’t get any cooler as the day went on. We drank water through the bee suit and that cooled us off slightly but didn’t last too long. Below is a picture of the cover with what’s still attached. Everything else collapsed already and that’s what you see on the bottom of the barrel. Some combs in this photo is new, they have started to build some new combs on the lid already.

Here’s a view from the top down.

A close up of the collapsed combs at the bottom of the wine barrel.

After we removed that inner support, I looked everywhere for the queen before we go on and there she is. I found her near the back wall of the barrel with a cluster of bees around her. So I take my homemade queen catcher or actually, queen cage as I had to kind of push her into the box with my other hand. (Next time I get a chance I’ll be buying a real queen catcher from Mann Lake, the “hair clip” type which is really easy to use.

You can’t really see her through that plastic but she is really in there, I THINK. She wasn’t huge huge so maybe the old queen was smashed when the combs collapsed and they crafted a new queen, maybe. But the holes I drilled into this box it’s 1/4 inch. The workers were able to go through it but the queen couldn’t. So it worked.

I put the queen cage into a medium hive body but not many bees moved in. What I forgot was I just bought some lemongrass oil on Friday at Wholesale Foods and I even had it in my beesuit pocket with a piece of tissue. The heat must have gotten to me as I didn’t even think about using it. Instead I kept vacuuming the bees and remove comb after comb until we were done. Then I reintroduce the queen and all bees into two mediums with foundationless combs. A few frames I have the brood combs on rubberbands and some new drawn combs that I had from another hive.

I didn’t snap any pics of the new hive yet because I wanted to clean up and get out of the burning hot bee suit. We started about 10AM and finished hiving around 1:30PM. This cutout was fairly quick that’s because all the equipment was already there, the barrel was easy to open up, and it was waist to ground level without any obstacles. Cutouts done at home when we can move the hive back to the yard, we don’t have to wait until evening to collect the hive to transport. The cleaning part took almost 1.5 hours! It’s a sticky mess!

I’ll be checking on the hive tomorrow, just from the outside to see what’s going on. Hopefully they will like their new home and stay.

This entry was posted in Bee Removal, Cutout, Honey, Honey Bees, Los Altos and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Wine Barrel Hive – Cutout Complete

  1. Lisa says:

    Really impressive!

    I’m glad that you could help these bees. Clearly, their living situation wasn’t ideal.

  2. It was very interesting opening this wine barrel up. Hope they like their new home. =)

  3. Erin LePiane says:

    I live in Paso Robles and have a volunteer bee hive in an old wine barrell on the side of my house. I addressed my landlord about the situation and he wanted me to plug the hole and let the colony die! Can you believe it. I am happy to report that both my neighbor I have a beautiful gardens and flowers that I must directly give thanks to my colony. My question: My husband and I are VERY interested in harvesting the honey. My mother in law bought us Beekeeping for Dummies. It is very helpful with bee boxes, but very lacking in info about extracting honey from a wine barrell. I ran across your site and saw the above narrative with the bees in the wine barrell. We are ametures at this whole bee keeping thing. Is there any way you couldoffer advice to us about how to extract honey?

  4. Hey Erin,

    What’s your plan for the bees after you extract the honey? Then I can provide better advice.

    Also, how long have the bees been there?


  5. Erin LePiane says:

    Ha see I had no idea I needed to have a plan for the bees…I know pretty much nothing about bees, there is a local man I found online who is willing to come and take the bees to his property for free at some point. Do I need to coordinate with him to come at the same time, if and when we extract the honey? We first noticed the bees this summer…mid June. I have been watching them closely. At night there used to be a large rectangle of bees around the entrance of the wine barrell(guarding the colony?)every night. More recently I noticed there is no more army of bees, just a few buzzing around the entrance.

  6. Hey Erin,

    The local beekeeper might just take the entire wine barrel with him unless you specify that you would like to extract some of the honey first before he takes it. But in that case he will have to open up the wine barrel and do a cutout of the colony. Once the wine barrel is cut open it’s hard to put back due to it’s construction. So he/she can be spending a few hours there removing everything.

    The wine barrel will be HEAVY if the bees moved in around June. Probably packed full of honey by now.

    Another option is for you to negotiate with him on taking the entire thing and then give you some of his own honey that he harvested from his other hives. You just want the honey, he wants the bees.

    So best to talk to the local beekeeper for details before proceeding.

    Too bad I’m not closer. Love the area. I went to Cal Poly.

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