Firehouse Bees

Very populous hive in a concrete block wall.

I got a message Wednesday night that there were bees invading one of our area volunteer fire departments.  I had known about these bees, but was waiting until later this summer once things had settled down to do a trap out.  Apparently instead of using their normal entrance on the outside of the building several hundred bees had made their way inside.

It was dark and raining cats and dogs by the time I got off of work and made it to the firehouse.  I am not sure exactly what happened.  It is possible that the bees swarmed inside.  The Chief had been there and from what he described there had been no cluster just disoriented bees flying all over.

Though it was raining there were bees packed right up to the entrance on the outside of the building.  Three firemen were there checking out the scene.  Just thinking out loud I told them that since the bees were packed right up to the edge in the pouring rain, odds were it was a pretty populous hive.

Image from inside the firehouse on the thermal camera. The lighter area is warmer than darker outside area.

We were talking bee trivia and their methods of hive thermo-regulation came up.  Out of the blue one of the firemen came up with a great idea.  He retrieved their thermal camera and started pointing it at the wall.  To all of our amazement it revealed a clear heat signature.  This picture really doesn’t do it justice, but you can clearly see the lighter (hot) area versus the dark (cooler) outer border.  The dark area was registering in the mid to high 70’s Fahrenheit while the white area was somewhere in the mid 80’s Fahrenheit.  The hive extended down the wall way further than I would have imagined.

I have been formulating a plan to get them trapped out and will begin getting things together this weekend.  I plan on taking a lot of pictures and will be keeping you up to date.

What are your trap out experiences?

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6 Responses to Firehouse Bees

  1. Anita says:

    That is incredible! What an ingenious way to find the bees. I wish I had one of these thermal cameras to play with in the winter to see how my winter cluster was doing. How are you going to get them out?

    • Jason says:

      I asked the firefighters how much their camera cost and they said ~$7,000.00 That is out of reach for me, but you bet I am going to be watching them on e-bay. I had the same idea for overwintering. If I had one of these I would know in January when it was 20degrees Fahrenheit whether I had a live colony in there or not. I wouldn’t need to wait until spring to break up deadouts that might get mold growing on them by March or April.

      I am going to attempt to use something that a gentleman on made me aware of. His name is Cleo Hogan. He uses something similar to the Swarm Harvester from Walter Kelley (Product Code: 890-SH). This is the first go-round for me so it will be an adventure in beekeeping. I will be documenting my progress so check back in.

      Mr. Hogan sent me a bunch of information on how to build the thing and his technique. I haven’t posted it because 1) I didn’t ask his permission, and 2) I don’t know if it will work yet. If you would like to take a look e-mail me at and I will send you what I have.

      Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

  2. Mil says:

    How exciting! Please take lots of pictures of the trap out. I haven’t done any trap outs yet, so no story to share.

    What a cool tool to have at your disposal. I was also thinking about how I can “see” what is going on with a hive during winter. I have heard of people using stethoscopes, but that would only give an aural picture. This heat imaging tool would be more accurate.

    • Jason says:

      I will be taking a ton of pictures. I didn’t make it to the trap out place yesterday. I had a swarm call that ended up being a double. Two swarms about 100 yards apart from one another. These came from another persons apiary, but I will take em’ 🙂

      I would love to have one of those thermal cameras. I just need to get a deal on one before I will be able to justify it.

      I didn’t get into beekeeping to get rich, AND it’s working out just fine….. 🙂

  3. Mil says:

    Yes, I guess I’ll have to go with the stethoscopes!

    • Jason says:

      Heh… Me too! I like the stethoscope. It is probably something you can justify. You can get a decent enough one for less than 20 bucks.

      One of these days I will come across a thermal cam. The second one I come across I will let you know. 🙂 It will have to be a killer deal.

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