In late April a former bee rescue client contacted me to see if I could help his mom’s doctor rescue bees living in the exterior wall of her house.
The bees had made a cozy wall hive and were accessing it through an old dryer vent. The homeowner wanted to safely extract the bees from the wall and move them to her backyard garden. I was really excited about helping Dr. Yuo because she knew the importance of these little pollinators to our ecosystem and wanted to become a beekeeper herself.
Knowing that this was a trap-out situation, something I had yet to experience hands-on, I contacted Roberta for assistance and she was kind enough to agree to be my mentor for this project.
Roberta and I agreed to meet at Dr. Yuo’s house at 6am. We started early because we both had to be at work by 7:30am, and we knew the bees would be in their hive getting ready to start their work day too.
When Roberta and I met at the house, the honey bees were peacefully resting in their wall hive and only a few guard bees were visible and on patrol. Soon after Roberta put the mesh down on the wall and started moving things around to secure it, the girls woke up. In this picture you have a bunch of bees trying to get out. Thank goodness the mesh did not have a hole in it yet because they sounded rather cranky - I think they needed their AM coffee.
The duct tape wasn’t sticking the wire mesh to the stucco wall, so we had to get creative and use material lying around the yard. Roberta used muscle power to MacGyver a glass window pane, dryer vent cover, planter and sawhorse to secure the mesh over the stucco opening.
Then, once everything was firmly in place, Roberta was ready to perform “laparoscopic surgery,” as she called it, to create a small opening in the mesh that would allow the bees to get out one at a time.
Here’s a video of the procedure:
Two weeks later my husband Shane and I went to check on the girls' progress. We saw that the trap-out was working perfectly; the bees were huddled together in a football sized cluster inside the box. The bees looked a little cramped in the little box, so after consulting with Roberta by cell phone, we decided to move the bees to a bigger and fancier cardboard box.
On June 11th Shane and I returned to move the bees from their fancy temporary abode to a permanent 10-frame hive box. When we arrived we noticed that the top of the cardboard box was dented and we worried that some animal had pounced on the box in an unsuccessful attempt to feast on the bees.
However, after we prepared our workplaces and opened the box we were happy to see the cause of the dent…10 beautiful pieces of comb!
These industrious bees had created this beautiful hive in about two weeks! The comb was full of capped honey, brood, and lots of bees.
This was a great learning experience but the best part of this trap-out (that became a cut-out) is that we found the queen and gained a new Backwards Beekeeper!