Gigantic Honeycomb Found Inside Home's Brick Wall
Home maintenance can be a pain in the butt, but this should be a cautionary tale for anyone who's been slacking. If left unfixed, the tiniest little problem can become a giant mess with expensive cleanup.
Speaking of expensive cleanup, you may wonder halfway through this story why they didn't just kill the bees and call it a day. Short version: they tried and failed. Long version: honey bees are very important pollinators, and without them agriculture could collapse. There's a growing number of people working towards the preservation of colonies like this. Some will even remove honey bees from your property for free if it's not too big a job. Look into it the next time you have a bee problem! Now back to our story...
It all started with little crack in a wall. Well, possibly two. And honey bees. Lots and lots of honey bees. With dirty feet. You know what? We'll let The Bartlett Bee Whisperer tell the story his way:
"Every once in a while I get a call that makes me cringe. Sometimes the bees are way up high, and sometimes it's bricks. I prefer to be minimally invasive when removing honey bees from buildings. I don't like taking out bricks. Will the mortar chip out, or will the bricks crumble? Will the combs be usable once the bricks are out of the way? As much as I dreaded removing the bricks, the final view of the hive was AWESOME! The homeowner was more than pleased that we were able to remove and relocate the bees and their hive."
Here's the wall. The pest control company has tried to kill the hive, unsuccessfully.
The bees were entering the wall via a weep hole between the bricks (dark area bottom/center) as well as via a gap between the bricks and the corner of the window.
Well, the large red spot is the brood area of the hive. The thin red line on the left is the weep hole entrance.
The first thing I did after smoking the entrances was to spray some Honey Bandit in the small hole I'm drilling in this photo. That helped keep the bees from running up the wall when I kicked on the hammer drill.
A little more smoke.
The first brick is out in one piece.
Two rows of bricks out.
Five rows out.
This is what I mean by AWESOME. The comb wasn't overly-attached to the bricks AND this is one of the largest single pieces of comb I've ever seen! With the exception of seven narrow honey combs in the center top of the hive, this was two large flat combs.
At the bottom of the front comb were five of the thirteen capped queen cells in this hive.
Removing a slice of brood comb holding seven of the thirteen queen cells. On the left side of the hive I found a large number of dead bees. I assume this is where the pest control applicator tried to kill the colony. The wax prevented the spread of the pesticide.
Rubber banding the second brood comb.
At the vertical mid-line of the hive, the combs joined into a convoluted mess.
Slow process removing combs in the middle section where they were all interconnected and tunneled. It's like the construction crew in this part of the hive was dropping acid. No, that's not an angel on my shoulder. That was a fun cluster of honey bees singing in my ear.
These bees were extremely cooperative to be queenless.
While I was cleaning up and organizing to leave, I placed the nuc box in the hole to gather returning foragers.
Done! The tan area came from thousands of dirty little feet. Kind of cool when you think about all the times your Mom told you to wipe your feet before coming into the house. Mom was right, "You'll track up the place."
TL;DR - The bees were successfully evicted, but left quite a mess behind them.
That's it for this cautionary tale! We're off to think about dirty little honey bee feet all night.