After weeks of trying to schedule the "perfect" day (it seemed like the Universe kept working against us), Calvin and I finally decided Thursday, June 28th was going to be the *perfect* day - no clouds & no rain - to move them from the wood duck box to their new deep brood box.
Mr. Freeze and I had dutifully done our homework. I had purchased the "Beekeeping for Dummies" book and started reading. I had bought a nice beekeeper's suit, with gloves and veil - always with an eye on the most important requirements - that is, prevention of bee stings. I was peppering Calvin and others with questions, such as, "can I move them about 200' away from their current location"? The response to which turned out to be a big, fat, "no", by the way. Apparently, due to lots of reasons, you can only move them "3 feet or 3 miles". So, 3 feet it was.
We purchased the minimum needed equipment (well, plus a few things), in order to get my little back-water hive moved. One deep brood box for my itty-bitty hive of a few bees. I even way over-paid for a smoker. I was very nervous the night of June 27th and called Calvin at 8:20 P.M to let him know he could come much earlier than the originally planned time of 10 A.M. to start the move. I NEVER call people that late in the evening, but when Mr. Freeze informed it was going to be 94+ degrees on Thursday, I thought, "I'm going to die in that beekeeping suit", so I decided we needed to get an earlier start.
Calvin, being an 'early bird', arrived around 8:00 A.M. the next day and after loading up all our gear, and discussing our plan to make sure we all knew what we needed to do and when, we were ready to go by 8:30 A.M. The temps were already climbing into the high 80's, so we waited until we got to the site before we suited up. Mr. Freeze had mentioned setting up a video camera, but as the temps rose, not one of us remembered to set one up, so I didn't get any pictures of the actual move, but there are some of the aftermath below.
Even at 8:30 A.M. though, the box still looked like this - bees hanging on the outside and flying in & out of the box. The original plan was to first get another look inside to see what progress the bees had made since May 17, 2018. Then, we would remove the flip side door (on the right hand side), the front and lastly the top with the hive attached and "just lay it all" right in the new deep brood box I had purchased.
Calvin got his smoker going and started smoking the bees. As the buzzing got very loud, the hairs on my neck stood straight up and the goosebumps on my arms grew. I was sure Calvin knew what he was doing, but why do they sound so much angrier with smoke? After unlocking the hinged door, Calvin got another look inside.....and he quietly said, "ummm, your bees have been very busy".
Not being able to see inside, I wondered, ok, what does THAT mean? Calvin quickly instructed me to go ahead and remove the screws so we could take the side door off as planned, but I could tell...something made him change his mind about our original plan. As we removed the side door, I realized - I no longer had a little backwater honeybee hive. My little hive was ready to run with the big dogs - most of the combs you see in the above picture had grown to almost the full length of the box and they were swarming & seething with honeybees. Somehow, my little hive had exploded in growth and there were now more than 60,000 honeybees in that wood duck box.
You know that part in Ray Stevens' song "The Streak", where he says, "Don't look, Ethel - but it was too late - she'd already been mooned!"? Well, that's where we were at that point. It was too late to turn back now and we were just going to have to make it up as we went along.
The combs were too big and it was too risky to cut them up and put them in the empty frames that I had prepared the night before....all proud of myself -- even watching all the YouTube videos on how to do it! Too risky as we might accidentally kill the queen. And by the way, my Queen rocks! The combs were huge....8" wide and some were the full length of a brood box - 20" long.
There was capped brood everywhere and honey. As I waited for Calvin to tell me the new plan, the bees - *MY* girls - were raging at the intrusion. Two of them landed right on my veil at eye level and were wiggling, squirming and buzzing, trying to murder me. Your mind can play tricks on you when you're stressed - WAIT....is that a HACKSAW in her little hand?? Such a character-building event, as the old me would have run away screaming and swatting at them. I somehow managed to refocus on Calvin and ignore the guard bees as they worked their way around my veil, intent on killing me, I'm sure.
Finally, Calvin pulled out his putty knife, and we began a full-tilt boogie. He began to cut out the combs and I found a position next to him on the tailgate of the truck where I could help him smoke the bees and hand him the tools he needed. On his first trip down the ladder he stumbled, and I wasn't sure if it was because of the sweat dripping down into his eyes due to the heat or, in my lame effort to help, I was smoking Calvin more than I was smoking the bees. Actually, I'm pretty sure I was smoking Calvin more than the bees. When he took the smoker and added more smoke in the box, I confirmed - I had probably smoked him off the ladder, but he was too sweet to say so. Every time HE smoked the bees, they buzzed louder - every time I smoked the bees, they laughed...and laughed. *Sigh* ....need some adjustments here.
The bees were swarming, the heat was rising, my brain was overheating and I was trying to deal with the angry bees swarming around my veil....but Calvin kept his cool and cut comb after comb from the nest box and gently & calmly delivered them into the waiting brood box. We even had to finally get a chain saw & cut down the post upon which the wood duck box was mounted, as the bees kept swarming back to it.
Things didn't go as we had planned, but in the end, it all worked out just fine, thanks to my bee keeping mentor and friend. Thanks so much, Calvin - I couldn't have done it without you!
After overcoming the shock and heat, that evening I was able to get back to the hive with my camera and get some pictures.
This is a picture of the aftermath...
The first video from the Freeze Hive:
For the back story on my honeybee hive, you can see more here: http://kathyfreeze.blogspot.com/2018/06/when-you-discover-you-have-wild-hive-of.html