Saturday, July 27, 2013

Abandoned House = Bee Paradise

There are few things nicer than a well built brick home.  Cira 1830's, this once yellow brick home belonged to the Kernohan family.

For about 75 years they ran an apple farm in north east London.  For years our family would buy bushels of apples from them.  I'll always remember the awesome taste of a cold crisp Mac apple.

After a few generations part of the land was sold to the city to make room for a highway stretching from north to south London.  And the apple farm was eventually sold.

Now the outbuildings on the land have been torn down.  They started on the house this week by first removing the bricks.

And guess what they found?

A pretty perfect warm dry place to have a hive, snuggled right between the studs in the walls.

That's where we come into the story.

We got called to see if we could help remove the bees.

I'd never done a house removal before but we were game to try.  I didn't want more hives so I called on some friends to offer to take the bees.  So Vincent offered to take the bees and I said I'd help.

The bees' main entrance was from a smallish hole at the bottom corner of the second storey window.  The bottom of the hive/combs when exposed were at the top of the main floor window.

This was a large hive that had been there for quite some time.  The brood combs in the centre were dark brown with age.  The four foot honey combs on the left were older and golden coloured whereas the honey combs on the right were newer fresh white combs.

Vincent started by cutting the boards on either side of the window and pulling them off.  Then he began by cutting the combs and laying the pieces in a cardboard box.

We put the pieces into a hive, bracing them as best we could between frames.

Several of the brood combs fit very well into blank frames.  We tied them into place in the frames and set them in the box.

The honey combs were 4' long and about 3" wide or more.  These bees had been busy.

It was difficult to sweep the bees into our box.  They weren't clustered together in a mass like a swarm is.  Instead they were spread out all over their combs.  This is where the custom made bee vacuum would come in handy.

But we didn't have one so we couldn't get them all.

We left the hive box out until dark and then closed the bees in for the night.  Vincent would pick them up early the following morning and take them to his place.

It was an interesting experience.  I can see how if anyone is thinking of doing home or building removals they'll need to have a vacuum.

One final note, that house was finely and well built.  It is sad to see that it'll be torn down.
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