Green Bee Company
 
 

 

Contact US

Cathy or Buz

39980 Foxtrot Circle

Elizabeth, CO 80107

(303) 842-1291

info@greenbeecompany.com

 

Bee Removal

Contact us about removing and re-hiving your bees instead of exterminating them.

(303) 842-1291

The Bee Odyssey
(The start of The Green Bee Company)
click any picture to enlarge

This is the story of how we, mostly Buz, got interested in bee keeping in the spring of 2009.

During the summer of 2007 we noticed that bees were coming and going from the roof of our dining room bay window.  A bee colony had moved in and built a hive.  We weren't really concerned about it enough to have them removed or exterminated and pretty much left them alone.

The following summer we starting thinking we might need to do something about the bees, as they seemed to have increased in number.  Having heard and read different stories about the decline in honey bees through different parts of the U.S., we decided that we would seek out a service that would remove and relocate the bees instead of getting an exterminator.

thumbnail picture of  Buz and Matt removing bees from the roof

After a few phone calls, Buz located Matt from Longmont, who would come remove the bees and relocate them to his hives.

On 3/8/09 Matt came out to remove the bees. Below are Buz and Matt, after cutting open the roof, looking in to see the colony and then Matt used the smoker to calm the bees before they went any further.

The next group of photos is the honey comb and the bees.  It was fascinating to see the comb built in a more natural environment than a hive box.  Each little comb is exact in size and proportion.  What was even more amazing what that Matt and Buz were both working up their without any protection from the bees other than their street clothes.  The bees were not threatened and were really very docile while they guys were working.

thumbnail picture of Buz and Matt removing bees from the roof

thumbnail picture of Buz and Matt removing bees from the roof

thumbnail picture of Buz and Matt removing bees from the roof

Matt cut the combs, bees and all, out of the roof and put them in the "bee box" for transportation to their new home.  We think he got approximately 10 pounds of bees, honey and comb.  He left us with another 5 pounds of comb and honey.  We broke up the combs, put them in nylon stockings (OK, new ones of course!) and hung them in the furnace room to drip the fresh honey into a bowl.  Yummmm!!

thumbnail picture of honey and comb removed by Buz and Matt from the roof

thumbnail picture of honey comb removed by Buz and Matt from the roof

thumbnail picture of honey removed by Buz and Matt from the roof

We were extremely interested in the whole experience and loved having our own fresh, natural honey.  Buz, however, was more than just extremely interested.  To coin the phrase, he got bitten by the bug!  He started reading articles on the internet and researching bee keeping.  The dynamics of the bees and their society structure is fascinating.  And apparently, after reading many articles, blogs, etc., from other bee keepers, they all say the same thing.  They got hooked on bees.

The next thing you know, he's downloaded some "how to" documents and wants to build his own hives; but not just any kind of hive.

The typical bee keeper hive is called a Langstroth hive.  Its main purpose is honey production.  Buz's interest was more in the natural production of honey, but not at the expense of the bee.  He found an article by a French monk, who lived in the late 19th century and died sometime in the 1960's.  His philosophy was to build a hive that was not for mass production of honey, but more for the propagation and the production of comb that more resembled that which they would do in the wild or natural setting.  So, he found the blueprints for the production of the Warre hive and set out to build one.  Somehow it turned into 6!  Not only did he build six bee hives, but they have feeder boxes that can be filled with simple syrup to give them a food source while they establish their colony and two of them have "viewing" windows so that we could peek in and see what was going on inside.

Here are some "in-progress" and completion photos in the shop during hive production.

thumbnail picture of slats allowing bees to attach honeycomb

thumbnail picture Ware hive in process of being built

thumbnail picture of observation panel in hive

thumbnail picture of observation panel in hive

picture of completed Ware hive

picture of Ware hive

So, we now had 6 hives and no bees.  Not a problem.  There are a number of Apiary's, or bee farms, throughout the U.S. where you can just order up bees and that's what we did.

Buz found an Apiary in Texas and he ordered two colonies of bees.  That's approximately 13,000 bees, (workers and drones), per colony with one queen bee for each colony.  They were shipped via truck with a few different stops along the way.  We went to our designated pick up location and got our boxes of bees.  The queen bee is in a small, separate box inside the main box.  She's kept separate from the rest of the colony because they don't know her as their queen and it takes a few days for everyone to acclimate.  If they were integrated too soon, they could actually kill the queen before they accept her.

Here's an interesting tidbit about the bee society.  The queen bee should be referred to as the mother.  There really isn't a hierarchy or ruler in the colony.  Each bee has its own job to do and the mother is responsible for the reproduction of more bees to keep the colony alive and thriving.

And so, on May 7 our bees arrived and here are pictures of the bee boxes with them in them.

picture of bees upon arrival picture of bees upon arrival

Buz set up two of the hives on the hill that is on the East side of the house.  Now it was time to put each colony in its hive.  Imagine pouring 13,000 bees in a funnel.  They can fly, but a surprisingly small amount does.  First we gave them all a spritz of sugar water, just to calm them and also to give the something else to do. They get busy immediately cleaning the sugar water off of themselves and each other.  Then, right before we opened their transportation boxes, we gave them a couple of puffs of smoke from the smoker.  This calms them as well.  Buz made a big funnel to pour them in to, to get them into the hive box.  We both are wearing protective gear because this was the first time we've actually handled bees and we didn't want to assume anything.  It's important to be calm in your demeanor when handling the bees.  It's a lot easier being calm if you aren't concerned about being stung!

picture of Buz opening the newly arrived box of bees picture of Buz putting bees in their new home picture of bees in their new Ware box picture of Cathy standing next to bees in their new home

Here are a couple of pictures of the "girls" as Buz calls them, through the observation window after we got the all settled in.  The queen, or mother, is still in her little separate box, suspended from one of the bars and left there for a few more days while the other bees settle in.  After about the fourth day the other bees have either eaten through the candy "cork" that keeps her in there, or we will help her out of it when the time comes.

picture of bees as seen through the observation window picture of bees as seen through the observation window

The bees all seemed to settle in pretty well.  The following pictures are of the bees coming and going out of the entrance to the hives.  If you look very closely at their legs, you'll see number of them have funny looking orange colored lumps on their legs.  Those are actually their pollen sacks that are full of pollen that they've been out collecting and are bringing back to the brood. Throughout the week we've been seeing different colors coming back according to what colors of wild flowers are now coming in to bloom.

The term "busy bee" wasn't just pulled out of a hat!  These girls are the real thing, they never stop.  If you look closely at these pictures, you can see their pollen sacks are full of orange and yellow pollen.

picture of bees bringing pollen into the Warre hive picture of bees bringing pollen into the Warre hive

After two weeks, the first box in the hive is almost completely filled with comb and they are working on the second box.

picture of bees nest built in a squirrel boxThroughout the summer we did one swarm removal and three cut outs.  One of the more interesting cut outs was a squirrel house that apparently had been vacated and some bees took up housekeeping.  But it was a false alarm and because someone spayed some kind of bug bomb, all that was left was a ruined hive.  But we kept the squirrel house and set it up in our aviary so that if one of our hives swarms we've got new living quarters already set up.  (Trying to keep them at home!)

We had one of our Texas packages swarm one day and we were both outside watching it happen.  It was really very fascinating; until we realized that they were going to take off to parts unknown.  Our  neighbors were probably getting a chuckle out of the phones calls made to find out if anyone had "seen our bees".

But we did three cut outs and put the bees in our boxes.  And at the time of this update, (spring 2010), they are all in one hive and seemed to, so far, have made it through the winter.

Our first honey harvest was 10/5/2009.  My sister was visiting from upstate New York and got to be in on it.  We yielded about 100 lbs. of honey and out of all the cut outs and the harvest, about 2 lbs. of beeswax.

picture of honeycomb in the Warre bee hive picture of honeycomb removed from the Warre bee hive

Buz, his friend, Al, my sister, Susan, and I, all suited up for the big day.  Susan and I were the "tool girls".

thumbnail picture of  Buz and Matt removing bees from the roof thumbnail picture of  Buz and Matt removing bees from the roof thumbnail picture of  Buz and Matt removing bees from the roof thumbnail picture of  Buz and Matt removing bees from the roof

So, as of March 2010, we're still watching the "girls" and waiting to see how they fare the rest of the winter.  (Which is almost over! Yea!). But March is our snowiest month, so it remains to be seen. 

We did lose a couple of colonies and we think they were the ones we purchased from out of state and the two colonies of local bees that we re-hived made it through the winter.

Over the summer we did a number of hive and colony removals and relocated them here at home.  We decided not to do a harvest in the fall and left all of the honey in the hives for the girls.  Come spring we'll see how well they did!

April 2011 update.  It's spring and at the end of last summer we had 15 hives.  We believe 13 have made it through the winter. Two got started late and were not very strong to start with. It's been very windy and the temps have been up and down, so we're holding off getting into the hives to see how they fared until the weather becomes a little more stable.  So look for new pictures and updates soon.

 


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