Dad and I rescued two honey bee colonies today in Palo Alto, CA. We arrived at Stuart’s place around 9:30AM and immediately started to set up for the day’s work on removing the two colonies living in the walls right next to the chimney.
Here’s a picture showing the upper and lower colonies, both require a ladder to reach.
We tackled the lower colony first, said to be the first to move into the wall. Exposing the bee colony and combs took more time than I expected. The stucco up there are about 2 inches thick, and of course when stuck on the wire mesh it was a B*TCH to remove. After we removed enough we had to remove some wood, first a piece of plywood as I was hoping they were right there inside the wall. But I was wrong. We had to remove the header joist as they were living in between the floor joists.
The lower colony had about 10 comb sections that ran pretty deep inside, and my knife that I use for most cutouts was not long enough. I’ll have to go buy a longer knife! Anyways, we saved almost all the brood, larvae, and eggs. Rubber banded them onto medium frames.
We did not catch the queen from the lower colony, at least didn’t get a visual, but she could have been sucked up the bee vac with the other bees.
The upper colony we had to removed tar paper and a piece of plywood but didn’t find the colony! Bad news! The bees were going through a gap between the framing and the chimney. Good news, I was able to see and reach the two comb sections with my finger and tool. And good news again, actually got very lucky as there is no way the bees could have expanded behind the chimney. About 5 inches in from the gap there’s framing, which prevents the bees from moving behind the chimney. If they did it would be very difficult to remove from the outside, and from what Stuart said, inside would not be ideal either.
So after I removed the two combs from the upper colony my dad scaled the tall ladder and smoked the heck out of them as we don’t have any Bee Quik, will buy some next time. After I short period we noticed a huge cluster of bees congregating at one of the top corners of the chimney. Immediately I said let’s get a taller ladder to get me up to the roof, the queen is up there. I was right on as I found the queen just standing in the middle of the big cluster, not even running around. I caught her and a few workers in my homemade queen cage and brought her down for a picture and show-and-tell.
The Queen is right in the center of this photo.
Below are some photos take by Stuart. (Thanks!)
Here is today’s final tally:
Two colonies rescued but only caught the queen from the upper hive
Bee stings: Dad zero, Stuart 1, and me 2 (they got me through my bee suit)
Bee Removal duration: 8 hours
Honey: None kept as they were sprayed
One dead shop vac