Catching Swarms while Supers are Filling

The title of this post pretty much describes what all has been going on since my last post. So far I’ve caught 5 swarms and the hives are getting heavier as the bees are collecting nectar. Only one of the swarms I’ve caught was actually hanging from a limb, so the bee vac I built last year is seeing lots of use.

The craziest swarm capture we did so far was a small cluster that landed on top of a service truck of Pineland Telephone in Metter.

As always, if you live near Metter, GA and have a swarm that needs to be removed. Let us know and either myself or another beekeeper I know will be happy to help.

2013 Season Begins!

Yesterday evening I was grilling some chicken wings when something caught my eye in the oak tree above me. It was a large swarm that issued from a colony in my backyard.

I sprang into action, backing my truck under the tree so I could reach the limb with the clippers. During the process of trimming some limbs around the swarm, a small wad of clustered bees fell onto my unprotected left wrist and hand. Naturally, several of the excited bees plunged their stingers into my wrist.

It hurt, but because I was so focused on getting the swarm, I just allowed those stingers to continue to inject venom as I got ready to cut the final supporting limb. After I cut the limb, the main mass of the swarm landed in the hive awaiting them below. It was a successful capture.

What I didn’t expect was my body’s reaction to the comparatively large amount of venom I received from these stings! Instead of the localized pain and swelling, I started having a systemic reaction. I began to itch all over, I developed hives all over, and I began to have a sense of panic. I took Benadryl at the instruction of my wife and my brother-in-law (a paramedic) told me to increase the dose to 100mg. A short time later I was much improved, though very drowsy.

The only thing I can think of is that whereas I normally scrape off a bee stinger almost as quickly as I am stung, in this case I received a full dose of venom from several bees and my immune system reacted (or overreacted) accordingly. I just hope this was a unique incident and not signs of worse reactions to come.

I guess the 2013 season is now underway. I’ve been looking forward to this year as we have 11 hives now in their 2nd or 3rd seasons. We’re really looking forward to the harvest this year.

Bee Removal @ Fivebraids Custom Woodworking Inc.

Here are some photos of a removal we did last week at Fivebraids Custom Woodworking in Metter, GA.. This colony was established several weeks ago when a swarm took up under the back of the workshop.

Photo credit: Denise Walsh

Swarm Capture at Lowe’s in Vidalia

Today we got a call about a large swarm hanging from a tree in the parking lot of Lowe’s in Vidalia, GA. My son Cordell and I hurried down to Vidalia to catch the swarm.

When we arrived, it was the perfect situation: Large swarm and hanging low to the ground. While Cordell snapped some photos, I sprayed the swarm with sugar water and shook them off into a couple of medium hive bodies below. I am guessing there were 6 to 8 lbs of bees in this swarm.

After we captured the swarm, talked about bees with Lowe’s associates and management, and came on back to the farm. We really appreciate Orkin of Vidalia for the referral and the folks at Lowe’s for allowing us to capture the bees.

The bees are now safe and sound here at the Kelley Honeybee Farm and we look forward to seeing the hive get established and start producing honey.

We are happy to capture swarms within reasonable driving distance of our apiary. If you have a bee problem or find a swarm, give us a call at 912-682-3806. We would be happy to try and relocate the bees.

Bee Drum

One of the best things about our second year of beekeeping is all the free bees I’ve been able to obtain. Last year I had to purchase package bees to get started, this year I’ve not spent a dime on package bees. Last week I learned of another feral colony that was causing some trouble for a lady near Soperton, GA.

The bees had taken up residence in an old 55 gallon drum.  The landowner estimated that the bees lived there for 3 or 4 years. When I opened it, I found the drum was almost 3/4 full of comb and bees. It took a few hours to finish, but I managed to get the drum cleaned out and the bees hived successfully.

Feral Colony Removed and Hived

I have been late in posting updates on the bee removal we did in Portal last week. The colony was very healthy and the removal was largely a success. The bee-vac we built worked very well.

We hived the colony and placed it in the woods on the family farm. When I inspected the hive, I discovered that the bees had made several queen cells on the comb we salvaged. That told me that the queen didn’t survive the removal. I would buy a new queen, but in this case I am going to allow these bees to raise their own in order to retain as much of their feral genetics as possible.

Below is a couple of pictures we took before we began removing the bees. The exposed mass of bees and comb was really just the tip of the iceberg because much more of the colony was located up under the floor boards of the house above the black area you see in the picture. The 3rd picture is of the hives in which the bees now reside.

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Bee Vac Built for Bee Removal this Weekend.

A couple of days ago, we received a call about a bee removal in Portal, GA. There’s an old mobile home that’s being torn down and it just so happens there’s a colony of bees living under it. We didn’t have a bee-vac and we weren’t prepared to have a removal to do this time of year. If we ordered a commercial made bee vac, there’s no way it would have arrived on time. Today we took matters into our own hands.

Having a bee vac is considered essential equipment in the modern age of bee removal. Suctioning the bees off of their comb helps reduce the number of stings to the beekeeper and, if done correctly, will enable to the beekeeper to capture the majority of the colony without injuring or killing them. After the bees and comb are safely removed from where they are not wanted, they can later be reunited in a conventional hive and relocated to somewhere better for both bees and people.

Below you can see a few pictures of a vac system we came up with after we researched the different designs people use. The 2HP shop-vac provides the suctioning power while the 5 gallon bucket will serve as the collection chamber to hold our bees. We improvised a crude regulator on the bucket lid to help reduce and control the suction in order to reduce the chance of injuring the bees. (We want to catch live bees, not make bee soup!) It might not be the ideal set-up for use on a ladder, but for the removal we have to do this weekend, I think it will work fine.

At this point, we are hoping the removal will go well and we can save as many of the bees, brood, and honey as possible. After we do the job, I’ll try to post some pictures and information about how things turn out.

If you are near Statesboro, Swainsboro, Vidalia, or Metter, GA. and need a swarm or colony of bees removed, please give us a call at 912-685-6759 or email me at rhettkelley77 @ yahoo .com.

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