Sunday, July 24, 2011

One Beekeeper, Two Tiny Assistants, Three Hives and Only Four Stings!

A few weeks ago we received two requests from Los Osos (a small town in California) to remove hives.  Hive removal is much different than swarm removal.  A hive of bees is one that has settled down and made a home somewhere.  A swarm of bees is a big old ball of bees looking for a new home.  Swarms of bees are gentle and mellow and easy to relocate, but removing a hive of bees can be dangerous.  We asked for $50 for the price of a new bee box for each hive we would be taking home.  The two parties agreed saying, "We really didn't want to hire pest control to kill the bees."  How cool is that?  Glenn made arrangements to collect the bees on a Thursday evening.  We started at the dump in Los Osos where hives of bees like to make homes in gas wells.  Gas Well 11 contained a small, weak hive.
It was being attacked by ants and only had one comb of bees.
Oliver doubled as beekeeper and babysitter while I took pictures.  Glenn removed the entire hive with ease.
We moved on to Gas Well 13 where Glenn discovered a larger hive.  The hive was attached to the top of the gas well and broke off as soon as Glenn removed the cover.  The kids and I ran while Glenn stayed behind to do the dirty sticky work.

We all had our specific jobs during the removal.  Pearl's job was to eat handfuls of gravel and not cry while I took pictures of the bees.
Oliver's job was to assist daddy with angry, stray bees and test the honey for complexity and character.  I doubt Glenn could find a better hive removal team.

Hive number three was located in a residential neighborhood.  The bees made their home in a round valve box next to the street.
Glenn could tell it would be a difficult removal due to the number of bees hanging around the outside of the box.  Here is a picture of Glenn wishing he had a full bee suit.
Glenn finally manned up and got to work on the hive.  He kept saying, "I can't believe this," as he moved comb after comb out of the valve box.
He was stung dozens of times, but only three stings made it through his clothes to his skin.  Glenn waited until the sun went down, collected all of the bees in the back of his truck and headed home.
Hive number one did not make it, as we expected.  It was just too small.  Hive two and three are doing well and have adjusted to life in a square box.  Glenn's birthday present arrived in the mail last week.  Now when we go on our bee rescuing missions, Glenn will be covered by a full bee suit!


  1. Great blog! I randomly found this blog looking for other beekeepers and I'm glad I did. Keep up the good work!

  2. Do u sell bee boxes? I have a swarm in my plum tree right now. Would love to get a box for them

  3. Great article!
    About to attempt my first valve-box rescue later today. I hope that I don't encounter as many bees as you did!
    I really like your idea of asking to pay the cost of a new hive to house teh bees. More than fair. Thanks again and good luck with your beekeeping!