Sunday, April 30, 2017

DIY Bee Vacuum, Direct to Hive!

Continuing from the last post, of the bee swarm that we watched happen from our one remaining hive...

The bees had landed on the old post inside a bush along the driveway. But then they shifted from the top of the post to the bottom of the bush!  The mound of bees was partly in the grass, situated inside 3 thick trunks of the bush.  An impossible situation for any normal recovery.

So, we built a special bee vacuum! Not really a vacuum, more of a method of moving the bees into a hive right on the spot.

Here is the starting point... a clump of bees in the grass and shrub trunk. 
First thing to do was to move a fresh top bar hive within a few feet of the swarm without disturbing them. this worked perfectly!

The top bar hive is placed to the right of the swarm, within a couple feet. We placed the divider in the middle to give an appropriate sized home for this little swarm. 
The next step was to seal the hive. Yes, seal it. This was accomplished with two kitchen garbage bags across the top, and duct tape all around. The tape sealed the edges of the bags to the outside of the hive. plus the entrance and vent holes. We even sealed around the glass viewing window. the only opening was one bar, removed to make room for the vacuum hose that would bring the bees. The hose fit perfectly through the slot left by one bar, and that was securely taped into position.

Here is the completely sealed hive, with vacuum hose for bee extraction in the middle and shop vac on the right. 

The hose for the shop vac was taped over a vent hole, that had screen inside to prevent the bees from getting into the vacuum. To hold the hose in position, we taped it to the fence right behind (past the right of the pic)

Here is a closeup of the vacuum hose connection. You can see the extra top bar holding the lid just open enough to provide easy access. 
Now, just turn on the shop vac and here we go ! The vacuum was perfect. Just enough to barely pull the bees into the hose, but not hurt them. In fact, we had to stop multiple times to "clear" the bee clog inside the hose. The little bees kept grabbing the ribs of the hose and each other.. instant clog! Otherwise it worked perfectly!

Hunter takes a turn sucking up bees into the hive

Here you ca see the hose taped to the fence to hold the weight. 
The silly looking contraption worked amazingly well! We managed to get 90% of the bees into the hive, including the queen, with virtually no causalities! The hive remained so calm for most of the operation that we didnt even need a bee suit or gloves.  Thy got a little flustered when the queen disappeared up the hose, but otherwise they just stayed happily crawling around or buzzing around.

The bee vacuum at work, almost done!

When we were all done, we had to remove hte hose to prevent the bees from escaping or gluing it shut! So we did pulled off the tape around the hose and quickly, very quickly removed the hose and dropped the bar back into place. The bees almost started spilling out to attack us, but things went just well enough. Everyone was tired and testy, so we just walked away to give them a chance to calm down.

Here is the after shot, all bees inside but not totally cleaned up yet. They got a little testy when we started pulling the tape off. We decided they had been through enough and waited till nightfall to finish

Now isnt this peaceful! by evening, all was quiet, we cleaned everything up and the bees are busily building their new home inside. 

The gently buzz of happy bees hard at work... a few scouts coming and going... all is well!
The bee vacuum was such a success, we are talking about ways to take this on the road and collect wild swarms this year to populate all the hives again.

Little Sprouts is back int he honey business!

No comments:

Post a Comment