Honeybees in a tree (bee gum)
Well I got a call about a bee log. A bee gum. By definition a bee gum is " Bees in a hollow tree or log". A homeowner had a tree (hard maple) fall in a recent storm. The tree was back in his woods away from everything but it seems his kids often ride atv's in the area. This was a big concern for the homeowner.
This was to be an easy bee removal job. We planned to cut the section out of the log with the bees and load it on a trailer to bring home. Much to my surprise it pretty much worked out just like that. When doing these type of removals "bee gum" it can be tricky and you never know what to expect.
When the tree was standing the comb ran vertical naturally. Then the tree fell on it's side so the bees made adjustment to the comb to make it vertical again as much as possible. When removing a section of log with bees the comb can be very fragile. In one case in the past (not this job) where the trip home destroyed the comb and forced me to do a cutout on them. Trying to save any remaining brood and bees. Not much fun but I was committed at this point! So now I had my chance again for another bee gum.
We smoked the bees in the log to calm them down. Not sure we really needed to these bees were very docile. So I marked about where to cut the log and fired up the chainsaw. As I made the cut the log (bee section) slowly dropped about 4 inches and rested on the ground. Now I needed to trim off a few areas so we could cover the ends of the log with plywood. This would protect them from the elements on the way home and once they reached there new home. It also helped hold the fragile log section together.
Lucky for us the homeowner had a tractor with forks. We figured we would have to carry this section by hand to the trailer to take it home. We got it loaded and secured with winch straps. The bees traveled about 40 miles with no problems. I know from past bees jobs once I arrive at the bee yard not to hesitate because the bees start to make orientation flights within minutes of being stopped. So I had prepared a area before hand to place this colony. Right in my yard.
After a few hours of watching the bees adjust. I started to see pollen come in. This told me the bees were back in the swing of things. Now I started to think about disease and pest. How can I treat this colony if it's infested. I am not really wanting to do a cut out. I would destroy more than I saved. A thought came to mind.....
If I place a couple medium boxes on the top of the stump containing a mixture of comb and foundation. Maybe they will move up by themselves. Once the queen moves up, add the excluder between stump and mediums. Then after a couple brood cycles they can be inspected for pest and disease.It's been my experience that the bees don't always have the same plan as me. So time will tell if this will work or fail.
So now I just set back and let the bees do their thing. Sooner or later they will be out of room in their cavity and forced to move up.
UPDATE: 3 weeks has passed and the bees are slowly working into the medium boxes. But still no queen in sight. Guess you have to wait longer for royalty!