Thursday, March 31, 2016

First Colony Extraction of the Year

Today I drove to Wellsville to remove a honey bee colony from a house. It was built in the 1820s and with 200 years of additions the inside was like a maze. Even worse was the inside of the walls. I crawled around the attic for awhile then found a likely stain inside an upstairs closet. Drilling two holes into the stain yielded nothing. It was a water leak. The drill bit came out of the 3rd hole with wax and honey on it. That was the wall. I opened the wall and almost not bees came out, until I removed the first comb.
 There is the drill hole in the center of the picture next to the stud. When I cut that comb out, about fifty bees boiled out, orbited the closet light bulb for awhile and then found their way to the window. I had to reach into a 4 inch gap and cut out chunks of comb, all the while wondering where the brood nest was. The farther I cut, the less bees until the cavity was cleared of comb.

No bees at all, not even a dead cluster—just lots of honey. Well, "lots" is a relative term. The total yield of hive contents came to approximately 40 lbs, lots more than I would expect in spring. The bees came from nearby colonies and were harvesting the combs. 

The homeowner took about ten lbs of honeycomb so I know they hadn't sprayed a pesticide into the nest. I've already taken one order for wild comb honey. The crystallized combs will go into a giant double boiler and I'll sell it as "wild honey"after liquefying and straining it.
   Where did the bees go? Possibly uploaded into a flying saucer, possibly a honey bee rapture. Most likely they started dwindling in the fall until there weren't enough bees to cluster, although there should have been some dead bees somewhere. There always are in my dead  colonies.

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