Remember this removal we did in April in Los Altos, while we were there we noticed another larger hive but couldn’t find a way into the attic for an inspection. Well, it got to a point where the colony population was getting excessively large and about 30 bees were getting inside the house each day. So Valerie contacted me and the home builder to meet there this past Saturday to advice where is the best place to cut into the ceiling to access the location of at least where the bees are entering. Bees hovering and entering at the center top of the roof in this photo below.
The bees are entering from the flat roof above the hallway bathroom. Jim, the home builder adviced us to cut the ceiling between the door and exhaust fan. Upon opening the ceiling we found a good mess up there with ducts, pipes, and more. And no bees to be found… yet.
I stuck my head up through the hole, looked all directions but couldn’t see the hive. I can smell the sweetness of honey in the attic. I listen, I can hear them buzzing from a certain direction. Then I noticed some bees coming over a hole where the heating/AC duct runs through, pictured below.
So it appears that the way the roof and ceiling was constructed, there is a piece of plywood between the ceiling and the flat roof top. The bees had to be in that open space up above the plywood. No wonder why I could not pick up the heat definition with my trusty thermal imager. So now, how the heck am I supposed to get up there? The duct and pipes are in the way, I need to get my sawzall up there to cut the plywood, and after cutting the plywood I still need enough access to stick my body and arms into to remove the bees and cutout the combs.
The bees should be right above where the black duct is. Jim said we can cut the duct as it can be repaired. So we did. Pushed the duct out of the way and now we had a little more room to work with.
Duct pushed out of the way I now have access to the plywood. More bees come through to see what’s going on.
Oh crap! Only a small portion of the combs were above this section of the plywood. The core of the bees are in the next section above the ceiling exhaust fan and above the bath tub area! This is not going to be an easy or fun removal. Already the hole through the ceiling was small enough but now the bees are further up, that means I will need to somehow get my entire body up there to cut the combs out. And it’s going to hit a high of 95F today. In the attic and in our full body bee suit it’ll be well over 110F! Not going to be fun but thank goodness for air conditioning. The duct we cut provided direct cooled air to the bathroom and attic where we were working.
I took this first photo of the colony by just sticking my arm and camera into the hole. No idea how it would turn out. This gave me a good idea of what we were up against. This hive has a ton of bees (Swarmed a few times already since we found a few opened queen cells). And this was only a small portion of the hive.
The honey bees were entering through the vent holes for the flat roof area. These one inch vent holes does not have any mesh installed.
Another angle of the combs. It goes way back and to the left and right of this photo.
My dad and I took turned sticking our heads up the attic. Even though the AC was on it was still hot up there. Because of the huge population we had to remove a lot of the bees before I climbed up there. We both got stung over five times each so there’s no way I’m going up there with some pissed off and hot bees before most of the ones closest to my face are removed with the beevac.
Some bees removed exposing the combs that are visible from the bathroom.
Sticking my camera up there again I grab this photo. The combs on the left, it was too far for me to reach while standing on the ladder.
After lunch, and now much hotter outside and in the attic. We cleared more bees and now I’m ready to climb up there!
Picture below of me sitting on a beam above the ceiling. This gave me a couple of more feet from the ladder to reach more combs.
A lot of the bees now in the beevac with two mediums on there. It was pretty full, up to a point where the suction was getting low. So took an hour dinner break and got our second beevac. Notice the comb sections that have dropped. It’s hot in the attic, new comb gets soft and falls when filled with honey and bees.
Behind all the combs you see above are large sections of comb with brood. Very little honey in this matured colony.
I had to reach to my limits to remove some of the comb sections. Barely holding onto the comb and needed an extension to cut them loose. I had to sort of lay down up there to reach the combs on the far left. But I couldn’t really lay down as there was the aluminum duct right on my back. So I rested my head on a 2×4 but that hurt. So I had a good ab workout trying to stay in place while cutting and removing combs that I was barely able to reach. Then there were combs and bees to the right. There was no good way for me to shift my body to easily get to it. I had to do weird yoga maneuvers for this cutout. All this done in a tight space with not much room to move around and making things worse it was a hot day.
All cleaned up. Bees removed though I did notice a small number in the vent holes just hiding there teasing me because I couldn’t get them.
We ended the 12 hour bee removal with a sweet sunset. Thanks Valerie for allowing us to save the bees and providing the air conditioning or else we would have fainted. 🙂