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Bee Removal – Depressing Mistake

Last November, a fellow contacted me from over in Stratford Hills (near the James River, off of Huguenot Road in Richmond, Va) to say that he had a couple of hives in his backyard that had not been tend in several years. The hives were rotting and he wanted to know if I could give them a good home. I told him that I’d come get them in March, when it would be easier for me to deal with them (at the time, I thought I might have to cut them up a bit, to move them, if they had wax all through several hive bodies.)

As it so happens, they were living in only one Hive Body (a deep). I moved them last night and opened them up to get them into a normal hive (and fix the frames.) It was sort of like a cut-out, but much easier. I was able to use rubber bands to get the comb into one of my hive bodies without much bee problems. They were probably the gentlest bees that I have ever ‘cut out’.

During the cut-out, I came across swarm cells on the second frame. Of the three, one of them was uncapped (the queen was out.) I assume that the bees had already swarmed, but I knew that I wanted to cut out the other two cells for Nucs. Two frames later and I had a pile of 4, capped swarm cells on the ground beside me. I had left a couple in the hive, just in case.

Fast forward to the last bit of wax and I decided to reposition the original hive so that I could get that last wax. SQUASH! I stepped right on the queen cells! It’s hard not to cry. The only positive thing is that I had left some in the hive and it was not a critical situation. The bees suffered no real loss. But, I sure did. Just having 4 queens off of this clearly strong genetic pool (plus, insanely gentle line) would have been a huge boon.

Oh well. Lesson learned. The next time that I cut queen cells out, they will go into a container that I cannot miss.

On a negative note, there were a bunch of small hive beetles in this hive. I do hope this does not become another lesson learned if these SHB start attacking my Nucs. I will put some traps that I have (and never really use) all through the hive tomorrow. I think the hive is dealing with them. but after cutting up all of that comb, some of which had honey, I will have to go into this hive every few days over the next many weeks, if not months.

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