Lessons In Beekeeping: Remember To Wear Boots

 Bees in a wall

This weekend I assisted beekeepers Maurice and Roger in relocating a very large beehive from a wall in an abandoned shed in the Hollywood hills. First we had to do quite a bit of demolition work, removing shelves and an old workbench. Then we carefully peeled back the wall paneling, to expose the bee’s comb. We smoked the bees to calm them down and proceeded to cut the comb out, putting the honeycomb into a five gallon bucket and the “brood” or baby bee comb into frames that went into the bee’s new hive box. We filled up ten frames of a “deep” hive box with brood comb. Once the comb was in the box, we sprayed the remaining bees, still clinging to the wall cavity, with sugar water. The sugar water keeps them busy cleaning themselves, temporarily immobilizing them and allowing us to scoop them up and pour them into the deep box. We took a couple of breaks to allow worker bees in the field to return to the hive. As they returned we sprayed them with sugar water and poured them into their new home. It was a long day. Demolition work started at 9 am and it was 5 pm by the time we put the box in the car to be taken to their new home at Maurice’s apiary.

What you can’t see in this picture is all the rat poo

Bees are very gentle creatures, except when you disturb their home. I got stung a bunch of times around the ankles and am now hobbling around the house. Like an idiot, I wore tennis shoes instead of work boots. I won’t make that mistake again!

Didn’t get any more pictures after this point as things got kinda intense

If you’re interested in learning more about how to rescue and keep bees, watch some of the videos featuring our bee mentor Kirk Anderson on the website of the Backwards Beekeepers at beehuman.blogspot.com.

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  1. That seems like a lot of bees, or was that just a regular hive size?

    How cool to get free bees! (if you don’t count all the time you guys spent doing it!)

  2. It was a lot of bees. The hive had been there for many years, but the homeowner is about to demolish this shed, so they had to find a new home. There’s lots of free bees out there adapted to our climate and resistant to mites. All you need to do is go get them before the exterminator does.

  3. CRFG Operative here. Another lesson in beekeeping. Don’t walk back to the hive if you forgot some thing without your veil on. I have done this a few times and have gotten stung every single time.

  4. Here’s another one: Always check your zippers! I’m always careful when first suiting up, but can get sloppy if I’m taking the suit on and off for some reason. The other day I left a 1.5 inch gap open in the zipper around my neck and 2 bees got under my veil. Somehow I got out of the gear without being stung, but I did not like having bees trapped within inches from my eyeballs.

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