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Old 22-10-2018, 09:10   #61
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Smile Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

Go with the flow.... start making honey

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Old 22-10-2018, 09:12   #62
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

We had bees (not up a mast, but in an equally difficult place) and after consultation with Mexican bee keepers it was determined that extermination, sadly, was the only option. If you have access to a homedepot they have a insecticide (that is outlawed in Canada and the US for good bee-preservation reasons). I'm sorry I do not know the name but I do know I asked the person responsible in that department and they were able to supply. Some locals swear by WD40 as a method of pissing bees off and encouraging them to move on.

Regardless of how you are able to proceed make sure that you thoroughly scrub the area post-removal, removing all bee-residue. I've had bees return to an area where I left comb residue.

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Old 22-10-2018, 09:44   #63
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

As a beekeeper in Africa 1952-77, and sailor since 1970, I can empathize. Just took 80lbs off my 3 hives Firstly... any Pics??
2. Highly unlikely African, as they would have stung you long ago!!!
3. If you can find a way, save the bees... They are severely threatened
4. Google "beekeeper near me" or "bee assoc near me" in Spanish if you can
5. Worst comes to worst, get a can of Raid with ~20' spray, and big hat with mosquito net, long sleeves and pants . Get hoisted to 10-15' away and start spraying. I have done this often , mostly with wasps, and they are killed almost instantly. Most fly far away to die, but a few may drop on you!!! Try for a direct shot into the entrance, and retreat. The next day, you can probably get up close, and empty the can in the entrance
6. I hate to see you kill them, but finding a local 'keeper willing to climb the mast may be impossible
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Old 22-10-2018, 09:46   #64
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

Dear Mike Read 100,

We read your post and our hearts went out to you. When we were in Belize some years ago a swarm of bees moved into our mast. We learned of it one morning when we came into the salon and there were bees everywhere. They had exited the bottom of the mast and come up through the floor boards. We didn’t want to kill them, so we opened the hatches they all flew out. Looking up we could see the swarm at the top of the main mast. We knew nothing about bees so we called a beekeeper in the U.S. Since access to the queen and the swarm inside the mast was impossible, he suggested that we move the boat 8 to 10 miles a day as that is the extreme range of their foraging and they would not be able to find their way back. We did this and as we moved south towards the Rio Dulce they all disappeared.

To our dismay, sometime later, in the Rio a new swarm moved in to the Bee condo with food already stocked for them. One morning, I entered the salon only to step on one and receive a very unpleasant wake up sting on the foot. Then without my knowing one landed in my tea and proceeded to sting my lip when I took a sip. That was IT! Now they were going to be dead bees. No more Mr. Nice Guy. We tried various attempts at poison but… were not totally successful until we traveled again.

We thought we were done with them until much later in Florida when we suddenly found another swarm had moved in. It is apparently true that if there is honeycomb and scent in the mast… it will act as a flashing neon sign saying, “Bee Condo Here!”

My wife made me a complete bee-keepers outfit with netting, etc. One night when the bees were quietly sleeping, I donned my protective gear and armed with a pump-up garden sprayer full of poison I climbed the 55 feet (we have mast steps) and hooked on. I then inserted the wand into a halyard exit hole and began to spray. Needless to say, the bees woke up. They went crazy and the noise they made was beyond frightening. They were all over me, but the poison did work, and the attack subsided. The protective gear worked and I was not stung but beware… you need very good protective gear. That was one of the scarier things I have ever done and I vowed to find a better way next time.

Of course, some time later a new swarm moved in again. This time… I had devised a better plan. I had built a device to run my pneumatic tools using a paint sprayer regulator coupled to the first stage of a scuba regulator. This would give me 100-150 psi of air pressure. I taped over the lower exit holes on the mast except two, one high and one low. I inserted the pressure wand into the upper hole which created a suction draft upward. Then began spraying poison into the lower hole until I saw a cloud emerge from the top of the mast. MAGIC! Dead bees.

The rest of the story. Some time later, I pulled the mast to repaint and renovate it. What I found inside was unbelievable. Upwards of three feet at the base of the mast was a solid mass of exoskeletal bee remains. At the top, there was a five-gallon bucket full of honeycomb residue. It was a challenge to clean it all out. I used 50 feet of PVC pipe with a hose nozzle on the end attached to a garden hose.

That was three years ago, and since we have not had any reoccurrence of bee visitors.

What I learned from all this is 1.) Act quickly when you first discover them and get them out. They build honeycomb amazingly fast. 2.) Any sort of pressure apparatus (delivering at least 100 psi) will work but you need a tube about a foot long inserted inside the mast above your entry hole to create the Venturi effect to move the poison up to the top. 3.) Eventually you will need to clean out the inside of your mast to prevent new swarms.
Good luck and all our best wishes. We look forward to hearing of your success.
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Old 22-10-2018, 10:05   #65
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

Been around two situations exactly like this in Mexico. It’s not fun, not easy, and never found the magic solution. The safest solution was to place several boxes. of good old fashioned moth balls in the base of the mast. Not the newer perfumed, safer variety, just the good old nasty stuff. The fumes rise up the interior mast and slowly kill or drive off the swarm. If you are staying on board make sure you seal the base so you do not get exposed to the fumes for any extended time. It works, just takes a week or two. Also for the stragglers soak a rag with your Raid and run that up the halyard during the day time. Every few minutes move it enough to agitate the critters and they will attack it. It’s not very effective for the main mass, better for stragglers. When you are doing this, avoid moving to much and get the crew, your dock neighbors, and gawkers away from the area as the more aggressive bees will go after anything that’s moving. We tried Mexican exterminators and they were stung so much that they refused to continue. It was not easy to locate the moth balls, we finally found them in a very old run down hardware/supply store. We tried a ton of other ideas, including some of those suggested here and nothing worked as well. Until you kill or remove the queen, the bees will stick around to protect her. I am not certain on this but I would be concerned about heading offshore with the live hive as you then become the only target for there aggression.
The next problem will be cleaning the wax from the lines. They need to be soaked and washed repeatedly. A caution here as I expect someone may be going up the mast using the “waxed” lines. When the waxed part encounters the winch drum, it will slip and loose its bite creating a very unsafe situation. Clean the lines before this happens so no one gets injured.
If you leave the old wax and honey in the mast it will continue to draw other bees in. Eventually you should consider dropping the mast and steam cleaning the interior mast. Until then, mothballs will keep them away. We loaded the mast base with mothballs every spring and that kept the bees away until we returned in September. It works you just need time and patience. Good luck!
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Old 22-10-2018, 12:11   #66
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

Again, thanks for some great suggestions. One thing that adds a layer of difficulty to our situation is that we have internal halyards and they all seem to be running through the hive. Any movement of any halyard sets them off. Initially they seemed pretty docile at night, but the last time I moved a halyard at night I was immediately attacked. This pretty much precludes any strategies such as spraying the nest or wrapping the masthead with black plastic. I have lost count of how many stings I have and don't want to put my neighbors at risk.

We continue to search for an exterminator, but so far nobody is interested in coming out. The mothball thing had occurred to us and we continue to search for some, but so far no luck. There are beekeepers in the area and we have put out feelers, but so far no takers.

Svsunbeam, I like your idea using a compressor with poison. We carry a small compressor for a hookah on board and could rig this up. What sort of poison did you use? Was is just a spray can?

A question for the apicultores here. If we head offshore for a few days will the bees, including the queen, leave, or will we just ditch the workers? This seems our best bet at this point. Maybe thinning out the hive through movement, then trying the diesel-soaked rag thing or spraying once the majority of the workers have been left behind. Unfortunately, this means not using our mainsail until the bees have been dealt with. We will then pull the mast, when possible, to clean it out.

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Old 22-10-2018, 12:32   #67
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

If you moved far enough off shore the bees will dwindle, slowly, 2 miles is a good distance as they will fly long ways too get nectar to feed the hive. They can live off of stored honey, that's what they do during the winter. A worker will last 21-30 days but new bees will be hatching as the queen continually lays eggs. The queen will not abandon the hive except under dire circumstances, remember every bee in that hive is her baby. Queens live 2-5 years (it good to be the queen!), and will only fly out to mate, die, or give way to a new queen.
I am trying to imagine the situation, but if the lines run through the hive is it possible to tie a few rags soaked in something noxious at deck level, Neem oil comes to mind, and hoist them up into the hive without jamming your lines? If you make the hive so inhospitable they will all leave, queen included because you induced a swarm.

I see a lot of stories about "hives" but I think most posters are talking about swarms which are much much easier to deal with. You have an established hive, those bees will literally defend it unto death. But if you make it such a lousy place to live they will suck up as much honey, take the queen, and get out of there as best as possible. You will be left with wax, and dead larva.

Let me know if that helps.
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Old 22-10-2018, 14:20   #68
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

Bee or wasp do not build nest where it would be flooded or wet, so if you can get their nest very wet, they will move the whole colony somewhere else. You win your mast back without getting stinged, the bees live and build a new nest elsewhere
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Old 22-10-2018, 14:36   #69
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

JPA Cate is right. Talk to the dock master. I was in La Paz a bout a year ago and followed a bee keeper and crew in truck full of commercial bee hives. Take a photograph and get a good bosun's chair rigged to run one of the crew up the mast to collect the hive. Use dock master or one of the local hotel restaurant crews to hook you up and do the translation if your Spanish is not up to the task. You might be able to charge for the hive and/or ask for some honey in return. If this does not work, the local farmers or truck stops should be able to connect you to the few guys that work bees. Or the local university or junior college.
Do not kill the bees!
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Old 22-10-2018, 14:40   #70
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

Catch a black bear, put him in a bosuns chair and send him up the mast. He will eat the bees and honey. Now all you have to do is get rid of the bear and replace the masthead!
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Old 22-10-2018, 15:00   #71
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

Have someone back in the States mail you, via ground transportation, a can of Black Flag Wasp & Bee Killer. It will shoot a deadly stream twenty feet!
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Old 22-10-2018, 15:04   #72
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

Petrol (gasoline) soaked rag in a tin, hauled up the halyard and left as close to the hive opening as you can get. 2 stroke mix is good because the oil helps it persist for longer. Alternatively, moth balls (naphthalene). Bees hate that smell. They think “there goes the neighborhood” and abscond. Risk is they go somewhere else on the boat, but if it is more accessible, a local beekeeper could then help you. Takes a couple of days. You may need to refresh (!) the tin contents. Worth a try (I’ve kept bees for 40 years). Don’t overdo the gasoline. Be aware of possible fire risk.
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Old 22-10-2018, 15:29   #73
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

If you plan to evict the bees using some smell that makes them move away, it would make sense to bring an empty man-made bee hive to the boat or somewhere nearby. This way the bees have a place that they are happy to move to, and they will not move to the mast of the boat next to you, or to somewhere else in your boat. A local beekeeper could provide that empty hive for you, and would be happy to take it away after the bees have moved.

I don't know what smell would make the bees move (I have had bees, but never used this trick), but if they decide to move, then they will go to the empty hive with good probability.
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Old 22-10-2018, 16:56   #74
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

Hi everyone,

Just thinking about how hard AND HOW NECESSARY it will be to remove all the bee residue. Is the marina in San Carlos equipped to pull your mast, if the bees are gone?
I hope so. It would really be inconvenient to have the "free beer party" attractant everywhere you go!

Good luck with it.

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Old 22-10-2018, 17:09   #75
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Re: Removing a bee hive from the mast

go sailing for a week or 2 .every time you move you loose bees they will have a very difficult time with an new location ever night or so the hive will dwindle and die and you get to go sailing.

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