It was not a problem that a native honey bee hive had taken up residence in the outside bell tower of this chapel. The problem happened when bees started migrating into the sanctuary and honey was noticed dripping from above. A wedding was planned to take place there in one week, so there was a bit of urgency for this rescue. Also, after the bees were removed, carpenters needed time to replace the wall. The caretakers sought help, and eventually, came in contact with us. It just so happens that we have rescued bees before from high locations and our method worked. After inspecting the building, we figured out approximately where the bees were inside the structure and came up with a plan.
In the photos you can see a box with straps around it. This box is a gentle bee vacuum. It actually vacuums up the bees and deposits them into a hive with very low pressure as not to harm the bees. Getting it up to the top of the bell tower was a challenge as the bee vacuum is not light. Then after it was up there, we would need to be able to maneuver it around, safely. The solution was to hoist it up on its own rope with straps situated to keep it level and then tie it off at whatever level was needed.
First though, the wall needed opened to find the bees and assess the health of the hive. Honey doesn’t normally drip from a strong hive, so we were concerned. The buzzing was a guide and the bees were located, however the comb was not in good shape and the hive was failing. This can happen when they loose their queen. If they can’t make another queen, then bees from other hives will come to rob the honey. This was such a hive. It was failing, so getting the bees now and cutting the comb out of the wall was necessary, since the dripping would only get worse and wax moths would move in. You don’t want wax moths, it is indescribably awful.
Working with bees requires calmness and slow movements if you don’t want to get stung. That can be difficult on the ground. Here, on a thirty foot ladder, working and trying not to drop anything, while in a cloud of buzzing bees was a real test. It took two days to get all the bees, but it was successful. We even got the stragglers that had crawled into the sanctuary. The bees were relocated. The comb all had to be scraped out and was not savable, but that was okay as we had drawn-out comb in frames available. It was very hard work but all turned out fine and the chapel was beautiful and in tip-top shape for the wedding.