Today was supposed to be a nice day reaching to a high of 70F here in Cupertino, California. So we scheduled a bee removal in Cupertino, where the colony made home in a sprinkler control valve cover. I was told there was a previous colony that lived there but absconded. Then just last Spring a new swarm moved in, and today we rescued them from that little space and hived them.
After we unloaded and set up our equipment, my dad did a little gardening, trimming back a pomegranate tree so we can gain access to the sprinkler control valve box where the honey bees are living.
Then my dad carefully loosen the box cover so we can lift it straight up. Our hope was that we can lift the cover straight up, pulling some of the combs with it, this way it would be easier to catch the queen.
Here it goes. The cover is being lifted.
All we came up with is the top portions of the combs. The bees attached the combs to the side of the box and to the controls and wires inside the box.
Here’s the first look into the sprinkle valve box. It’s TIGHT inside. If the bees weren’t removed today they would have swarmed or absconded in February or March when the colony got too large. Actually with the current amount of bees and combs, they have already ran out of space!
Entrance was on the right from this photo. Going from right to left. Two combs with pollen and empty cells. Four combs of brood though two of them have an big missing piece in the center because the bees built these two combs around the sprinkler controls. Then finally we have like five combs of honey, mostly capped but the very last one which is quite small was uncapped. These bees were bringing in honey. They were definitely not short on honey supply!
From here on, we started cutting. This time I removed the honey combs first because it was so tight inside the box I couldn’t get my hands in there without running the brood combs. So it was the honey combs that came out first which gave me better hand access to gently remove the brood combs. Each comb at a time and inbetween looking for the queen bee. We were able to remove and safely relocate all the bees but it’s sad that we could not capture the queen today. Hopefully we vacuumed her into the bee vac. We will be inspecting the bees during the next warm up. (Weekend weather, Saturday in the high 50s , Sunday RAIN!!!! Hopefully not another wave of cold and wet conditions). The brood combs that we saved did have capped brood, larvae of different stages, and possibly eggs too but I didn’t look too closely. If no queen in the bee vac, hopefully they can make an emergency queen.