Beehive Removal and How To Build A Bee-Vacuum

As I mentioned in my last blog, I received two unrelated calls for beehive removal last week… then I got two more calls. 4 hive removal jobs – 7 hives in total.

The first call was to remove a hive in an apartment building. However, it turned out that the bees were in the cavity of a solid brick wall. The only way to remove them would have been to remove the bricks. I spent about 2 hours in a bucket truck 20′ in the air and only manage to vacuum out enough to make a starter hive but the comb and the rest of the bees could not be removed.

The second one was in an old building in Vicksburg, MS. This one (actually two on opposite ends of the building) turned out to be the same problem. The bees were not only in the bricks but the hives were more than 30 feet in the air (with no bucket truck). The guy seemed really nice, so I didn’t want to tell him to kiss my @$$. Instead, I loaned him a bee suit, gave him some advice on how to deal with them, and wished him luck.

If these removal jobs were heaven sent, I totally missed the point. Three Hives – No Joy!

Beehive Removal Success

However, yesterday after spending an hour in my garden (90°F) planting lady cream peas as part of my late season, Three Sister’s Garden, I headed over for the third hive removal job.

This one came as a referral from my son-on-law’s little brother, Ethan York – who insisted he be mention in my blog for his contribution. “SO ARE YOU HAPPY NOW, ETHAN? YOU’RE IN THE BLOG!” 😛

This hive removal was actually very straight forward and went like clockwork but that clockwork took 4 hours (I think I may have to start charging more). The hive was located at the eve of a one story house. I only had to remove a couple of boards and then I was able to get to the whole hive.

On my first hive removal a couple of years ago, I used a bee vacuum but whether it was the corrugated hose that made a washboard to bang the bees on, or if I just had the vacuum set too high, or if it was just the heat… whatever the reason, those bees ended up in the big beehive in the sky… may they rest in peace.

Bee-Vac Design

This time, I decided to use a clear, smooth bore 7/8″ hose on the intake side of my vacuum. This allowed me to see how fast the bees were moving and if the pressure was correct. My basic design came from Sidney Clyde “Sid” Ervin Jr. I was fortunate to meet him just a few months before he passed away and he was gratuitous enough to show me his bee-vacuum and explain how it worked.

While my current Vacuum is far from perfect (and nothing like Sid’s), it shows the basic concept.

Of course , while I was taking pictures yesterday, I forgot to take a picture of my actual bee-vac but I have drawn a pretty good picture to show how it works.

  • A – The shop-vac is connected through a tight hole in the lid of the 5 gallon plastic bucket. Screen is fixed over the vacuum’s nozzle to prevent the bees from getting sucked out of the bucket into the shop-vac.
  • B – A hole is cut in the lid of the bee bucket and covered in screen. Using a piece of wood (or in my case, a small plastic bag) the hole can be covered/uncovered to regulate the suction pressure.
  • C – A clear smooth bore hose is secured through a tight hole in the lid. The clear hose allows you to see how fast the bees are being sucked in. (I wrapped duct tape on the hoses both inside and outside of the bucket to secure them in place).

Periodically I would empty the bucket into an empty hive box I had secured on the back of my truck. When I got down to the last bucket full, I placed a #8 hardware cloth lid over the bucket and left them in there for transport.

I think this design could be improved in many ways, such as getting rid of the bucket and using a sealed hive super. I’ll work on that and may use it for the next removal in a few weeks.

As I said, it took four hours – most of that time was spent suctioning the bees. It is a long slow process.

Since the bees seemed to get honey on them as I vacuumed them up, I won’t know until later today if they survived the ordeal once they’ve had time to clean themselves up.

I never did find the queen so I can only hope I got her into the bucket without hurting her. All and all, this removal (though exhausting) went well. The owner of the house has two more hives to be removed at his workshop (both are in easy locations). However, I told him it would be a few weeks before I could get to those.

That leaves the final hive removal. I have scheduled it two weeks from now. That one is located in the wood wall of a hunting camp on an island. I can only hope it is as straight forward as the last one.

Cleveland MS Farmer’s Market

By the way, I also went to the Cleveland, MS Farmer’s Market. It was so much better than the Greenville one. There were about 15 to 20 vendors and the customers were a more affluent group that didn’t try to haggle. I actually had a good time and met a lot of nice people.

I sold about 150% more honey there than I did last week in Greenville. Still not a ton but worth the 3.5 hours I spent there. This Market is also only 15 miles from my hives, so I can stop by and do some inspections on my way home.

Lastly, I’ve come to terms with my limitations. After 4 hours of climbing up and down that ladder yesterday there is a quarter size spot on my stomach that doesn’t hurt… the rest of me feels like I’ve been beaten by Mistress Jen and I’d forgotten my safe word – it’s “farfegnugen” by the way. I do hope it’s just that I’m fat and not because I’ve gotten old – fat I can fix… there’s only one cure for getting old.

Lastly, someone posted a picture of my truck on “You From The Delta Ain’tchu?” I’m not sure whether to be pissed that I was put on a white trash website or if I should just shake my head at the person that doesn’t know what a beehive and smoker looks like.

Maybe she thought I was spraying for misquotes on a really small scale. Since I’m from the “Delta”, I’ll just say, “Bless her heart.”

7 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m glad you gave that “shout-out” to Ethan! Without his referral, this bee removal post would have been short and sad. YAY Ethan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bryan Layton says:

      He’s a good kid.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess that’s often going to be the challenge – they manage to make their hives in the most obscure and inaccessible spots (they’re not dumb!)
    I like the design of the vacuum that sucks them straight into an empty super! But I guess that can get awkward if you have to lug it up a ladder. Let us know how you go with that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bryan Layton says:

      I think the trick is to have a long hose


  3. Life On The Patio says:

    This was a great read! Thanks, I learned a lot. I have a question as I had
    never heard the phrase ‘being from
    the delta…’ what does it mean?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bryan Layton says:

      I live in the Mississippi Delta Region of the country. The land was formed by the Mississippi River and is very flat and very fertile. Despite that fact, it’s the poorest area of the poorest state in the USA.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Life On The Patio says:

        Ah, thank you! I had thought the Delta was associated with the Mississippi River but hadn’t heard the term Mississippi Delta Region and I grew up in New Orleans😊. Thanks for the lesson!

        Liked by 1 person

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