Honey bees are keeping us very busy at the Florida House! It’s hard to believe that just a little over six months ago we had our first colony of bees literally fall into our lap. Read about it here. While we have purchased only two nucs of bees, our colony has grown to 8 hives! Philip recently had a tree service colleague contact him regarding a stinging situation. The gentleman had been hired to complete some tree work but had discovered a beehive within the tree. He contacted Philip to assist with the removal of the honey bees so that the tree work could continue. This would be his first honey bee extraction job as a beekeeper.
A Hollow Tree Honey Bee Extraction
This honeybee hive was also high in the tree, but this time Philip opted to cut the tree down and deal with the extraction on the ground. Philip had set up a camera on a tripod to capture the extraction, but unfortunately, it was not aimed to catch the most hysterical part of the entire ordeal. Wearing a beekeeping suit in June in Florida is extremely hot, so he had not yet put it on when he made the initial cuts and dropped the tree. You can imagine that when that tree landed, the bees went mad! Philip quickly realized that a beekeeping suit might have been a good idea. He took off running! The homeowner saw him running and decided he better take off too! Ohhhh how I would have loved to have seen that!
Removing the Resources
Once suited up, Philip proceeded with removing the hive from the down tree. He used lots of smoke to calm the hive. The smoke masks the pheromones released by the guard bees warning the hive of perceived danger. This allows a beekeeper to work with bees without the entire colony feeling the need to defend their home.
Philip had to make some cuts to get into the center of the tree to get to the honeycomb. There he removed large pieces of honeycomb. Once he had dismantled the hive inside the tree, he moved the resources into a wooden hive box, providing the bees with an alternate place to relocate. Once finished, he let the homeowner know he would need to leave the hive overnight to allow the bees to gather inside.
Moving the Extracted Colony
The next morning, early before the bees had taken off, Philip wrapped the hive box in a net and brought the bees home. He secured the queen in a queen cage. This ensures the colony will remain in place, as the queen can’t travel with them. A queenless hive leads to the death of a colony, so the bees are quite motivated to stay in place. We put this hive next to the other feral colony, not really thinking much about it.
Not Your Average Bee
We have learned that feral bees are different than domestic bees. Both colonies over the course of a few days have absconded! Abscond means the entire colony leaves the hive. The newest colony (colony 8) absconded without their queen! She was in a queen cage and unable to join them. We happen to walk by when they began to abscond. We saw the swirling hurricane of bees flying into the air bearding in the tree above. After traveling 40 minutes back to the house to get the equipment we needed to retrieve them, they realized their queen had not gone with them and they went back to the hive to be with her. We returned to find them back in the box exactly where we wanted them to be.
Chasing Honey Bees
The next day the other feral colony (colony 7) absconded as well. It looks like the bees in colony 8 robbed them of their resources. The honeycomb had been cleaned of the honey and pollen the bees had stored up and we had carefully saved for them from their log hive. Our domestic hives are close together and while there is some robbing going on, bees that have dependable food sources seem to get along with the neighbors a bit better.
Philip found these bees high in the tree and was able to retrieve them. He had not previously locked up the queen, so she had absconded with them. Once retrieve he found the queen and secured her, providing motivation for the bees to remain in the hive we provided for them. He also provided them with resources to sustain them. Thankfully, he went to work early that morning, later in the day, it’s likely the colony would have left to find a permanent home.
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Philip recommends this headband magnifier to easily spot eggs and queen bees while doing hive inspections.
Honey Bee Extraction from the Fallen Tree
Join Philip as he falls the tree and extracts the bees from the tree. If you enjoy these posts, please comment and like our posts on the blog and on YouTube, this helps our brand grow!
About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.