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Thread: Bee hive in a tree - best time to drop the tree?

  1. #1
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    Bee hive in a tree - best time to drop the tree?

    My neighbor (widow) has a standing dead tree she wants dropped. However, it has a huge honey bee hive in a holllow limb about 20' high.

    I've talked with two beekeepers and one said to drop it on a very cold morning and the other said to drop it in the spring when the bees are mostly out of the hive.

    Any experts here?

  2. #2
    Boy, around here (NE Ohio) beekeepers will come and move the hive, as long as it is healthy and really honeybees, although I suppose the 20 feet in the air could be a problem.

  3. #3
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    I'd consider dropping it about the time the guy you hire to drop it shows up.

  4. #4
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    John Jordan has a farm and raises bees. Local bee keepers will remove them for you if you get in touch with the bee keepers association in your area. If you drop the tree when the bees are out, typically the queen bee is not "out." If they lose the queen, the loose the hive. My best advice is to ask John.

    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/sendmess...member&u=32367

  5. #5
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    Can't be a unique issue - do you have an Animal Control Unit in the City you could talk with? Would have thought they could advise. Seems strange the beekeepers didn't want the bees as others have said

  6. #6
    Removing bees from a tree is major work. I did it once when I was younger. The danger is when the tree is dropped, the queen may be killed either by crushing from the combs and wood or smothered by the bees trying to protect her. There is no good time to do this IMO.
    Lee Schierer
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Burch View Post
    My neighbor (widow) has a standing dead tree she wants dropped. However, it has a huge honey bee hive in a holllow limb about 20' high.
    I've talked with two beekeepers and one said to drop it on a very cold morning and the other said to drop it in the spring when the bees are mostly out of the hive.
    Any experts here?

    Todd, I'm certainly no "expert" but I do have some experience.

    How you handle the tree depends on a few things. First of all, could the bees be "africanized"? I see from the maps that a large part of Texas has africanized bees. I have no experience with these but from my reading I understand africanized bees can get VERY aggressive and come out of the hive by the thousands and attack anything that moves. Pets have been killed. People have been hospitalized. Just dropping the bee tree could be dangerous to anyone in the area. If your area has such bees get professional help!

    Second, do you (they) care about saving the bees? Honeybees are in danger in this country and saving them is good for all of us.
    If you want to save the bees there are likely beekeepers close by that know the local conditions and can provide the best advice. One may even agree to help remove and relocate the colony. To find the right person look up local beekeeping clubs or organizations, call your county ag agent, ask at a farm store. The local beekeepers you talked to might know someone who would extract the bees.

    Rescuing a hive from a tree can be a major effort. There are methods that use devices such as bee vacuums. I successfully removed one from a large sassafras tree that was cut down. I don't have extraction equipment so I did it the hard way. This has just a hint about the effort:
    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthre...99#post2588399
    That colony, BTW, is alive and well at my farm today.

    There are companies that will remove bees from anything. This can be expensive. The sassafras owners got a quote of $1400.
    There are exterminators that will remove the bees by killing them all. This would be a shame and still be expensive.
    You can simply cut the tree down and kill the colony yourself. This would also be a shame but would be a lot cheaper. You will need some protective clothing to get close. You will need some good protective gear if they are africanized. Even otherwise docile bees get very aggressive when you mess with their home. Some people fill the entrance with expandable foam spray and suffocate the bees.

    I don't know about the climate and temperature where you live. In TN, there is no food source this time of year and the bee colonies are huddled together to stay warm. If a bee tree is cut down now in this area the colony will probably die because their carefully constructed living chamber and stored food will likely be smashed into a pulp when the tree hits the ground. That's what happened to the one in the sassafras tree.

    Note that just cutting the tree down may not get rid of the bees. If they survive the initial trauma, they might rebuild and continue to live in the downed chamber.

    For some reading, this web site has a lot of info: http://www.adkinsbeeremoval.com/ This excerpt is from the link that follows:
    "Bees in Tree Trunk
    Honeybees in tree trunks or hollows often cause recurring problems. Getting rid of the bees in a tree trunk yourself may present a tremendous challenge. An established beehive in a tree trunk may consist of 5,000 to 20,000 bees. Normally the cost of equipment, in addition to the time you take to learn how to accomplish a successful removal with exclusion to keep the bees from returning far exceeds the cost of paying a bee removal specialist. Bees tree trunks can be removed alive by trap-out..."

    http://www.adkinsbeeremoval.com/get-...bees/index.php

    Sorry if this is note is disorganized. I've got a headache and cold or something and not thinking well this morning.

    JKJ

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Burch View Post
    My neighbor (widow) has a standing dead tree she wants dropped. However, it has a huge honey bee hive in a holllow limb about 20' high.

    I've talked with two beekeepers and one said to drop it on a very cold morning and the other said to drop it in the spring when the bees are mostly out of the hive.

    Any experts here?
    Todd
    I used to have a dozen or so hives in the backyard and have removed swarms from a lot of different places. The only actual working hive I've ever removed was from the soffet of my own house. I've You need to be very careful doing this, especially in Texas.
    Texas does not get a true winter, like the Northeast, which means that the hive populations will always be higher in the winter there than here. More bees, more activity.
    Texas also has a high population of regions with the Africanized Honey bee. No matter what species, the bees are going to react. The Italians and the the hybrids may erupt with a couple thousand bees when the tree hits the ground, and they may only travel a few hundred yards. The African hives are hyper aggressive and you may end up with 10,000-20,000 bees in the air and they may cover an area up to a mile. It not enough to just drop the tree and run like heck. Those bees are going after anything in their path. They're going to be very mad, regardless of species.
    If you have to drop that tree and can't deal with hive before hand, then it has to be dropped at first light, on the coldest morning you can. If it's already warm enough for the bees to fly, you'll need to drop it at dusk, almost in the dark. The reason being, that if you drop it during the day, there are still thousands of bees out foraging and they'll be returning all day long. The next day, they'll be thousands of bee swarming the area where the hive used to be. They'll be confused, and angry. Cold weather is best, as any returning bees will die. Drop the tree and come back the next day.

    Is there any way to get a ladder up to the limb? If so the limb could be wrapped in bridal veil and possibly be lowered. The minute the chainsaw hits the branch, or even the tree, those bees are coming out to repel the source, so you have to be prepared for it. DAMHIKT

    All that said, it sounds like fun.If I was closer I'd love to help ya'
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  9. #9
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    We're a year in at being "beeks" and I'll echo the same thoughts as already espoused by other SMC members with beekeeping experience. Care must be taken due to your geography and you absolutely want an experienced resource to either do the job or provide guidance so nobody get's hurt...including, hopefully, the bees. Even if they are an Africanized strain, they provide a valuable and necessary resource to our food supply.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Giddings View Post
    ...Seems strange the beekeepers didn't want the bees...
    I suspect the beekeepers didn't want the bees since it is simply too much work with no guarantee of a return. Look at this note:
    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthre...99#post2588399

    Even with extraction equipment, which I don't have, there is no guarantee of success.

    I mention in that thread how it took me seven trips and about 12 hours of work over 5 days. Briefly, I had to chainsaw into the tree, clean out all the smashed comb, prepare and position a new hive box, locate and catch the queen (a minor miracle), entice both the queen and the majority of the bees to accept the new box as their home, wrap up the hive after dark, and move it to my farm. Much of this was while wearing a full protective suit in direct sun in 90 deg weather.

    The ONLY reason I agreed to try was because it was a neighbor who asked me if I could help - the tree was in his sister's yard. He had hoped some beekeeper would want to do the work in exchange for the bees but he didn't realize that the chances of capturing the colony was extremely small. Try to find one bee that looks very much like 30 thousand others in a hole in a tree while balanced on limbs in the summer heat. Without the queen, you go away with nothing. And even if you can catch the queen and the bees, there is no guarantee the bees will not abandon the new hive box the very next day.

    Fortunately, it all worked out for me. A long story, guaranteed to bore anyone to tears who is not a beekeeper!

    JKJ

  11. #11
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    John


    I actually became a beekeeper from my first experience of removing them from the soffit of the house.
    I first called an exterminator to spray them. He said that he couldn't spray them unless the soffit and eave of the house was opened up.
    I called a carpenter to come in and open up the soffit and eave so they could sprayed. He said he couldn't open up the eave and soffit unless the bees were dead.
    Yep, I was in a do-loop.
    I found a beekeeper co-worker, and we built a scaffold on the side of the house and secured it in place with my truck. Buried a skill saw into the eave and began to gently pry the boards down. The all Hades broke loose. They were lines up like marines ready to hit the beach when we pried that first board down.
    Luckily we did get the queen alive,and transferred all of the bees to a holding box and set a deep super with a brood frame on top. The only way out was through the brood. All the bees moved up and 3 weeks later we removed the holding box, as all of the hive was in the two deeps on top.
    Almost 300 lbs. of honey came out of the comb we removed and pressed out. It was a ton of work, and that was 20+ years ago.
    The bee's that we removed were eventually split and put into a KerkHoff style , 2 queen, hive which we moved to a berry farm near us. That 2 queen hive could fill out 30-40 medium frames in no time flat during a flow.
    I've been out of beekeeping for a few years now. (used to have a dozen or so hives in the back yard for years.) I miss having bees in the yard and will get a few 'nuc's this spring to start again.

    Todd has a lot of work ahead of him if he wants to remove the bees, or tree section himself.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all the replies.

    The two widow ladies that live on either side of this standing dead tree are both afraid it will fall on their house. However, it's a hundred yards from either of their houses… They're just old and overly concerned. There is no threat to either of their houses, and the only venturing these ladies do outside is to the mailbox - in the other direction.

    My goal is not to spare the hive, although while I don't wish harm to it, it is inevitable harm will come to them as the tree continues to disintegrate. The hollow limb has about an 8" opening in it, so it has been dead a very long time. There are already exposed honey combs from sections of the limb that have given way in the past.

    My goal is (was) to drop the tree without getting stung up. Yes, we can have very aggressive hives in these parts. I've had to deal with both honey bees and bumble bees in my logging endeavors.

    I say "was" because now we probably won't be getting any more really cold weather, and logic tells me that cold weather is the route to take, not warm weather when bees are up and out and about.

    The hive entrance is 20'+ up in the tree. I don't know how low the hive is inside the tree, and I also don't know how decayed the tree is at the base. If I had a bee suit, I probably would have felled it by now, but I'm not going to spend $250 on a bee suit when it's really not my issue and there is no threat to anyone. Even if the tree fell tomorrow, and the bees swarmed, no one would probably know since the tree is in a gully. You can't see the base of the tree due to all the brush - you can only see the dead upper branches.

    Thanks for all the advice!

  13. #13
    You can make a "field expedient" bee suit. Go to the borg and buy a paint strainer for a 5 gallon bucket. It'll look like a veil and cost less than $5. Put on a long sleeve shirt and long pants. Put on a hat with a brim and pull the paint strainer over your head and tuck it into your shirt and button your shirt to the top. Put on gloves and use duct tape on the bottom of your pants. Tape your gloves if you want.

    That will give you good protection. If you encounter an Africanized hive, get out quickly. Come back with hornet spray and spray the entrance well to kill all the bees. You don't want to save an Africanized hive.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  14. #14
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    I took the tree down back in April. I did not get stung. LOTS of bees. A local beekeeper brought me a suit to wear, and he brought his bee collecting apparatuses.

    The tree was WAY rotten and mostly hollow. Saw went through it QUICK. I'm glad saws go through hollow logs fast, because I don't like to hang around under trees as rotten as it was. Red oak. About 30" diameter 3' up.

    It fell quick, right where it was supposed to, and lo and behold, on sort of a little raised area on the stump, about 4" higher than I was cutting, 3 little raccoon pups. Their eyes were still closed. We left them alone and the mom snuck in when we weren't looking and relocated them.

    The bee collecting was a success too. The guy was able to catch the queen and he got everything he wanted.

    Mission accomplished. Widow ladies didn't even know we did it. I told one later and she didn't even recall I was going to do it. I told the other lady and she wouldn't shut up about bees for 3 weeks.

    racoon-pup.JPG tree-down.JPG queen-bee.JPG

  15. #15
    That Raccoon pup is too cute! Glad mom came and got them.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

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