Ever since I advertised that I'm now doing hive cutouts I haven't had the time to sit down. It's been tons of fun! Each removal is a puzzle.
Just a couple of days ago I removed an old hive from a water softener housing. They had built their comb from the roof of the housing down to stagnant water in the bottom, and had attached the comb to the sides. The comb itself was essentially unsalvageable (too old and black) but there were tons of bees and lots of honeycomb. In the end I decided to lift the entire hive (about 60kg) and shift them around the corner of the house, then left one of my hives in the old location for returning foragers, and then used my bee-vac to move bees from the water softener to the new hive. It took about four hours, and I discovered part-way through the cutout that there was no brood, lots of swarm cells, and no queen. I moved the hive to my quarantine site and I'll have to requeen them this coming week.
I've got another huge cutout that I'm still figuring out how to do. It's an open air hive that's been there for a decade, off the end of a fallen tree.
The New Yard
The other exciting thing I've got going on is that I've moved ten hives onto a huge patch of Leptospermum lanigerum, which has similar properties to the more well-known Manuka honey. I'm a little worried that there isn't enough stuff flowering year-round to support a large bee population, so these 10 hives are a bit of an experiment.
I'm also phasing out my older pine boxes in favour of cedar ones. The cedar is lighter, I'm building my boxes better, the joinery is stronger... basically, there are no drawbacks other than the initial cost. I know some people have expressed interest in buying these boxes, but until I get all of my own hives up to snuff I don't think I'll be selling. Expect to see them for sale in a year, though.