Each year we receive hundreds of calls from homeowners with “bees” that they’d like removed. Often they are, indeed, honey bees. At least 1/3 of the time, however, they are bumble bees, hornets, wasps or yellow jackets (a type of wasp). I’m not aware of any wasp/hornet removal services other than extermination. There are some who remove bumble bees, but usually I recommend to customers that they just leave them until winter, as they will die out.
Few people realize that there are upwards of 20,000 types of bees in the world, and more than 6,000 in North America alone. This doesn’t even include hornets or wasps! Do note that all hornets are technically wasps…
Yesterday we received an e-mail from someone with what they thought was a bee’s nest hanging from their eave. This should be the first indication that it is NOT honey bees, as they tend to live inside cavities as opposed to in exposed nests.
Here’s a picture of the wasp/hornet’s nest:
Yellow jackets are a type of wasp that often lives in the ground. This is the most common call we receive, and the first question I ask is, “Where is the nest?” If it’s in the ground I assure them it’s not honey bees, but likely yellow jackets! Yellow jackets, like bumble bees, die out over the winter in northern states. So if they are out of the way and not bothering you or your family, you can leave them alone until winter and then plug up the hole.
Bumble bees come in a tremendous array of shapes, sizes and colors. They usually live in the ground or in some other small cavity such as a bird house or mailbox. Most of the time they are very docile, with little interest in humans, though like any stinging insect they can be aggressive if provoked.
Here’s an example of a sparrow house being used as a bumble bee nest:
Honey bees prefer to live in elevated (as opposed to in the ground) cavities such as walls, chimneys or trees. They tend to be very docile even if you are standing directly in front of their hive.
If you’ve got some “bees” you’d like removed, please make sure that they aren’t wasps/hornets or bumble bees. If they are honey bees we will do our best to help you out!
4 months later we’ve finally taken some updated photos of our new store in Portland! Here you go! Feel free to stop by at 1229 SE Nehalem Street, Wednesday-Friday 12PM-6PM, or Saturdays from 11AM-4PM.
As you may have noticed, our website looks a little different! Over the past couple months we’ve been upgrading it to new software, and about a week ago we went live. So far it’s been working great! Please let us know if you run into any issues.
It’s been a very busy year! In May we moved into our new storefront in the Sellwood neighborhood of southeast Portland, Oregon. Initially we just needed a location at which we could store and ship hives, but we decided to turn it into a small storefront for our products. The response has been fantastic! Portland was clearly in need of a local beekeeping supply shop focused on the ever-growing population of backyard beekeepers! In addition to selling our products, we hold classes there as well! Our next class can be found here: Beekeeping Classes
Here’s a shot of the front of our shop:
We’ve just realized that this is the only picture we’ve taken of our new shop in the almost 4 months we’ve been there! We’ll make another post this week with some more updated photos.
Last, but not least, all of our top bar hive and Warre hive products are 10% off through September, 15th! If you are looking to start beekeeping in 2012, or if you want to expand your apiary, now is your chance to get a good deal!
What a year so far! Our bees are doing great and so is business!
Here’s a video of some of our happy Warre, Langstroth and Top Bar Hives in our back yard on February 21st, 2011:
In addition, we’ve been working tirelessly to keep up with the influx of orders we’ve been receiving since December. By the end of the week we expect to have a lot of top bar hives in stock, and by next week we should be caught up entirely with Warre hives! I could not be more excited about the number of beekeepers looking into alternative methods such as Top Bar Hives and Warre hives. Here are some photos of the production process:
FSC Western Red cedar waiting to be turned into bee hives:
Assembled Warre hives ready to go!
Unassembled Warre hives parts, ready to be boxed:
Top bar hives being constructed:
Top Bar Hives awaiting packing:
Top Bar Hives Awaiting shipment:
What a holiday season! Aspiring beekeepers throughout the country (and the world!) received our beautiful top bar hives, Warre hives and other goodies under their Christmas trees. We’re very excited about all of the new beekeepers joining the ranks, and while it’s good for our business, it’s also wonderful for the world and the honey bees we adore.
Our dear friend, Zoe of Zoe PDX, has created an amazing new logo for us! Check it out, and please let me know what you think:
Stay tuned for other exciting news this week as we add additional items to our product line, add beekeeping events and classes to our busy spring schedule, and give you an additional peek into what goes on behind the scenes here as we work to bring you the highest quality top bar beekeeping equipment in the world!
As a token of our appreciation to all of our customers for the wonderful year, we are offering10% off all of our products through the end of December! Many of you are looking to buy gifts for your loved ones, or prepare for the 2011 beekeeping season yourselves — now is your opportunity to save!
Thank you all for your continued support as we’ve grown this year from a small hobby in our garage to a streamlined (and streamlining!) business building the finest top bar hive andWarre hive beekeeping equipment in the world!
I’m excited to say that Queen of the Sun, a film by Taggart Siegel, is opening at the Hollywood Theater this Friday! We’ll be there to answer questions with a top bar hive and a Warre hive on display. In addition, all who attend will have the opportunity to enter into the raffle of one of our top bar hives!
On September 25th at 7:30PM I will be introducing the film, as well as announcing the winner of the hive!
Here’s the official information:
Have you heard the buzz? Bee Thinking is proudly sponsoring “Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us?” opening September 17th at the Hollywood Theater! Queen of the Sun is a profound, alternative look at the global honeybee crisis from Taggart Siegel, award-winning director of The Real Dirt on Farmer John.
When: Opening September 17th @ 7:30 PM & 9:30 PM. Running nightly through October 3rd or longer.
Where: The Hollywood Theatre – 4122 NE Sandy Boulevard Portland, OR 97212
Northwest Earth Institute is proudly introducing the film on Saturday night, September 18th at the 7:70 and 9:30 screenings.
Advance Tickets: WWW.QUEENOFTHESUN.COM
Queen of the Sun is screening in celebration of “Portland Honeybee Week”, beginning September 17th. Mayor Sam Adams will be introducing the 7:30pm screening. After screenings, there will be Q&As with the director Taggart Siegel, producer Jon Betz & local beekeepers on most nights from September 17th to September 25th! Your movie stub will be a raffle ticket for prizes donated by great local businesses!
Come dressed up Saturday the 18th at the 9:30pm showing for a SPECIAL BEE COSTUME CONTEST! Win great prizes!
ALSO FIRST PORTLAND TOUR DE HIVE
Honey Harvest and Processing: One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from our customers is how to harvest and process honey from a top bar hive or a Warre hive. I find this to be one of the simplest and most rewarding aspects of these two beekeeping methods, and I love the fact that I don’t need an extractor, an uncapping tool, foundation or other items to get the job done.
Harvesting honey from a Top Bar Hive
Let me start with honey harvesting from a top bar hive. I generally don’t harvest honey from first year top bar hives unless they are overly full (from one end to the other), or if some of their combs get out of control and need to be removed to avoid future disasters.
I usually harvest in mid to late afternoon on days that aren’t terribly warm. This way there will be fewer bees in the hive to notice their honey being plundered. The honey combs will be at the end of the hive farthest away from the brood nest where the colony was started. Often the last couple combs aren’t fully capped, which means they should generally be left inside the hive. If you go a few bars in you will likely find a comb or two that are fully capped and ready to be harvested. The quickest method and the one I prefer to use is to remove the comb and simply brush the bees off of it. Once they are off I either put it in a sealed Tupperware container or bucket, or take it indoors where the bees can’t get to it. The other method that works is to do the harvest at dusk, just before it gets dark. Remove the comb and set it 5-10 feet from the hive. As long as there is no brood in the comb the bees should quickly evacuate and move back to their hive.
Harvesting honey from a Warre Hive
Honey harvesting from a Warre hive works a bit differently. As part of the Warre system, the empty boxes are added below in the spring and honey-laden boxes are harvested from the top in the fall. This makes for a relatively simple harvest that can yield a tremendous amount of honey (Each box of honey can weigh between 40-50lbs). Much like our top bar hives, we usually don’t harvest from our Warre hives during their first season. A typical Warre hive needs 2-3 boxes in which to overwinter. If the bottom two boxes have plenty of honey, the top box can be harvested as well.
Here in Oregon we generally harvest honey from our Warre hives in September. At dusk I start with a puff or two of smoke in the entrance, wait for a minute and then begin removing the top boxes. Upon removing the top I’ll take off boxes one at a time and place them on their sides 5-10 feet from the hive and use the aforementioned evacuation method to rid the boxes of bees. If the boxes have combs that are removable, you could also remove the combs individually, brush them off and place them indoors or in a sealed container.
Others have used bee escapes with good luck, placing the bee escape between the boxes to be harvested and those below. Over a period of time most of the bees will make their way down through the escape and won’t be able to go back up into the honey stores.
Honey processing works similarly for both hive styles. Once the combs/boxes are out of the hives, crushing and straining is the next step.
It is easiest to process combs from top bar hives, as you don’t have to deal with removing them from the box. If you’ve got but one or two hives, your most cost-effective method of processing is to use a spoon, two mason jars and some cheese cloth.
Start by cutting the comb from the bar and dropping the pieces into the jar. As you drop them in, crush them up with the spoon to make room for the next piece. Once you’ve filled the jar with smashed up honey comb, attach some cheese cloth or screen over the opening with a rubber band. Now upturn the jar over an empty mason jar and watch as the honey leaks through the cloth and fills up the jar!
To use the same method with combs from a Warre box, start by flipping over the box so the bars are facing downward and the combs are facing upward. Take a knife or hive tool and cut the comb attachments from both sides so that the bars can be removed. At this point you can remove a couple bars at a time, cut the combs off and crush them up in the jar as described before. If your bars are nailed into the hive you can cut the combs out from the underside, as well as through the gaps in the bars from above. It’s best to leave a little comb (1/4 to ½ an inch) remaining on the bars to induce the colony to build in the box next season.
If you have dozens of hives like we do, mason jars aren’t the most efficient method. Instead we use a metal fruit press. Rather than placing the combs in a jar, we place them in the press and smash them up. From there we press the honey out of the comb into a bucket, leaving a small pancake of wax in the bottom of the press that can later be rendered. This allows us to press 15-25lbs of honey at a time, making quick work of the job!
The other option that works very well with foundationless hives is cut comb honey. I simply take a comb, lay it on a cutting board and cut it into squares.
Trap Outs: As the swarm season dies down, bee removal season picks up when unwitting homeowners notice bees that have taken up residence in their walls, trees, mailboxes or any other cavities they find suitable. Much like swarm removal, one must discerning about trap out selection.
For those who are unaware, a trap out is a method for removing honey bees from a cavity (usually a wall). Rather than cutting the wall open and removing all of the bees and combs, the beekeeper uses a trickery to get the bees out. By sealing up all of the bees entrances but one, and then placing a screen funnel over the last entrance (point facing outward), the bees can move out of the wall but can’t find their way back in.
Once the funnel is in place, the beekeeper hangs or rests a small honey bee colony (ideally queenless with eggs from another colony) next to the funnel. As the bees give up hope on moving back into their wall, they join forces with the colony that has suddenly appeared. After a month or two, all of the bees should be out of the cavity and in your nucleus box.
Here I am doing a trap out in Portland, OR:
Do note that the first couple weeks the bees will almost certainly find new entrances, making it vitally important that you check up on them weekly to ensure the rogue entrances get sealed and the one way exit continues to function properly. Otherwise the process is fruitless.
Once the bees are out of the wall the funnel can be removed and the colony outside now gets the opportunity to go back into the wall to rob out as much honey as possible. If this is during fall, you can bet that the bees will be ravenous for an easy honey source. After a week or two of robbing the hole can be sealed up and you can take your bees home.
This is a time consuming process that can easily go beyond the scope of work that you anticipated. Be sure to consider all of the factors involved with the trap out, such as: access to the property; height of the entrance; number of entrances; methods of sealing the entrances (duct tape, foam, screen, etc.). More than once have I quickly looked at a trap out site, figured it looked easy enough, only to find that it took me 4-5 hours to get the entrances sealed! If it’s high up or difficult to access, be doubly sure that a cut out isn’t a better option for you and the customer.
- buddy martin on Difference Between Bumble Bees, Hornets, Wasps and Honey Bees
- We Save Bees on Photos of our Store
- We Save Bees on Difference Between Bumble Bees, Hornets, Wasps and Honey Bees
- matt on Difference Between Bumble Bees, Hornets, Wasps and Honey Bees
- Steve on Difference Between Bumble Bees, Hornets, Wasps and Honey Bees