Work work has been keeping me quite busy lately with all the projects and changes happening, so finally here’s my detailed report on the Los Altos Hills Bee Removal. About a month ago Sebastian, the homeowner, emailed me about some bees living in their home that will be demolished for rebuild. It would be nice to save them instead of killing the honey bees.
I went for a site check and the honey bees were living in the soffit of an overhang. Because the house will be demolished anyways I had the option of going from below or above. I choose the above route as that’s much easier.
The removal was scheduled for a month later and guess what moved in about 4 feet away. That’s right, the main hive swarmed and moved in. So there seems to be two active colonies now. But see the photo below. There might be three colonies living in the soffit just a few feet apart from each other.
Sebastian set up a bird/wildlife camera where it can take pictures at certain intervals to capture our bee removal process. Will post some of them when I receive the pictures.
Saturday we started a tad before 2PM thinking it was only one colony. We stripped away the wood shakes and tar paper. Was kind of surprised on what they used to build the roofing structure. First there are some wood strips going across, then drywall, who uses drywall for a roof structure I thought to myself. Underneath the drywall are more supporting pieces. This part took the longest, cutting each piece as gentle as possible. These bees weren’t the nicest. Once we started working my dad gets stung through the suit and a bunch of bees attacked me by bumping into my veil and gloves. This happened throughout the entire removal for both active colonies.
Below is where the large first colony reside. I didn’t take any pictures when my gloves were covered with the sweet sticky stuff. 🙂 But Sebastian captured some and I’m hoping to get those pictures.
Here’s a photo of the entire roof section where the bees lived. Center, where you see the hole is where the main colony lived. Upper left corner is the edge of the roof, that’s where the swam moved into. Now, bottom right you see tons of honey. That’s the potential third colony but here’s the thing. We found honey and pollen stored there but didn’t find any brood. Not exactly sure why this part was about 2 feet away from the center colony, no combs inbetween that would join them. My guess would be a queenless colony or it was part of the main colony.
Day 1 we worked from 2 PM until near sunset, 6.5 hours. We bee vac’ed a ton of bees. I would say two mediums full of bees and day 2 we got the rest from the main colony. We didn’t catch the queen on this one even though we worked from inside out, hoping we would find her on the brood combs but to no avail. There were just too many cracks and hiding places.
Day 2, our bodies were beat and sore from the first day. We arrived a little before 10 AM and got started right away. Here’s the roof before we tore into it. Because it was a smaller colony I had high confidence in catching this queen. Again, these bees were defensive but who wouldn’t be when you are destroying their home.
Here’s my dad using the multi-function tool to gently cut open the area for us to start removing the combs. The fairly new multi-functional tool started to act up on us where it would turn off by itself or the motor would spin at a slower speed but we were able to get the job done with a sorta functioning power tool. A new one is on order.
Here are the bees. They have been there for about 3 weeks the most. All the combs were still fresh with the first somewhat yellowish. There were a lot of capped brood in this colony. Almost no honey.
We vacuumed the bees and removed comb section by section, paying close attention to the queen before the next step. FINALLY at the very end, removed the last comb, she was not on there but tucked in the corner of the soffit. She kind of just stood there motionless hoping I won’t see her. But as I moved my queen catcher closer she started to run. She’s a large queen and laying perfect brood patterns.
We caged the queen and put her into the hive. We left it there and retrieved at night. Sunday because the colony was smaller it took us from 10 AM until 1:30 PM.
Thanks Sebastian and Petra for having us rescue your honey bees!