_ Cleo's method is a longer process than the using the "cone method", but it's a long-term fix designed to get ALL of the bees, brood, and honey out of the cavity. Nolan has an engineer's mind and builds things for a living. Here, we go over the plans and discuss our plan of attack.
_I gotta say I've been bitten by the power tools bug. DIY is much more inexpensive than buying all of the specialized boxes and boards for beekeeping. Guess I'm becoming a carpenter after all. Thank you once more, Universe. Amazing how this stuff works out, you know? Since Nolan was the construction expert, I brought the bee-related tools and blueprints, and kept the process organized as we ripped the sheets down to the different parts and pieces. Getting those mixed up would be a headache later that we'd want to avoid.
_ Along the way frames of bees are taken out to weaken the colony. As the colony weakens, the queen, any remaining nurse bees, and any emerging brood will have less food available as the colony's numbers are reduced. With less food, fewer bees to keep her warm and the smell of open, fresh brood and eggs I'll put in the trap-out box, the queen will (hopefully) move to the new hive body. A trap door is lowered once the queen has entered the box. With the trap door lowered, any remaining bees can only enter the hive body and not return to their original location. The process likely will take 6-8 weeks.
Below, Nolan attaches the back cleat. Part of this brilliant box design is the cleats for the handhold. The front and back are shorter than the sides. The outside cleats even up against the sides, making for a recessed lip at the front and back for the frames to rest inside the box. No dados required. Nolan then affixed a bit of screen onto the entrance tube we'll place at the colony's entrance. He folded the screen back to allow for ease of passage so the rough edges don't get in the way of the bees coming and going. This reduced the opening to better fit the bees' vertical entrance on their patio overhang. We mounted the bridge tube to the stucco of the patio using L-brackets, a hammer drill and masonry screws. We added a bottom panel that jutted out to make up for the notch at the bottom of the stucco trim and patio wall.
Ta-daa, box complete. There was a bit too much overhang on top. Nolan will trim it back to 3/4" so I can easily pick the box up, but still leave enough overhang to keep rain out. There are small cleats on the underside of the top which keeps the lid on. I later found out that as the cleats rest on top of the top bars, the cover is automatically ventilated. The Coates plan is truly simple and efficient. This is a migratory style outer cover. No inner cover is required. OK, building is complete! Now we need to suit up and do some installation. I fired up the smoker and then showed Nolan how to put on and secure a veil.
Oh, crap. Did I forget to mention I'm afraid of heights? Yep, my second bee removal experience and again, more than one story up. Guess I'll be getting over my fear of heights along the way, too. Thanks, Universe. We put his ladder in place. It took me a while to get used to going up and then getting comfortable on the ladder. Nolan did an amazing job of coaching me through it and teaching me a technique for working on the ladder. After several attempts and lots of encouragement from Nolan and Cory, I finally made it up there. We slid the trap into place to see how it would fit, and then I marked positions for the L-bracket screws, top and bottom.
We'd bought air conditioner foam insulation at the hardware store prepping for the trap-out. That was a GREAT call. I used my hive tool to stuff the foam into the crack that went 2 feet up from the hive's entrance. You must seal off all other entries for this to work. Once that was done, I inspected for a while. Sure enough some bees had found tiny holes to still go in and out of. I used as much foam as I could. It was perfect. But to be sure, I duct taped all along the upper crack and around the tube bridge to ensure a bee-proof seal. As I closed off all but the tube's entrance, guard bees coming out to defend and foragers trying to return home starting quickly building up. I was ecstatic when I saw two bees find the new entrance and start fanning their Nasinov glands to send a pheromone that said, "Hey, girls, over here! This is our entrance and exit." Nolan and I made some videos with Cory's iPhone while we were there. Hopefully we'll get those uploaded on the next trap-out post.
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Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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