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March 18, 2012

Bee Vacuum Construction Plan

Bee vacuum parts
I needed to construct a quick and free bee vacuum for swarms and cut-outs.  I saw many bee vacuum plans and some are on this web site, but I also wanted a cheap bee vacuum.  After all, how many times would I use this vacuum?  Nothing beats a free or no cost bee vacuum.

What I had on hand was an old package bee box, some duct tape, an old coreplast political sign, screen wire, some screws, string and a 2 and 1/4 inch hole saw.  Refer to the pictures. Click on them for a better view.

To begin I first cut a 2-1/4 inch hole (my vacuum hose size) to one side of the old can hole.  I also took a rectangle of wood and drilled a 2-1/4 hole in it for the hose to the vacuum source (my shop vac). I made this wider than the box so I can attach the bee vacuum to my ladder rung while I used it. Then taking the duct tape, I closed off one side of the package bee box completely with the tape.

Next, I placed a square of the screen wire over the old can hole and then placed my rectangle wooden piece over that screen wire.  When this is screwed together, the screen will keep the bees in and away from the vacuum source.

Next using the box as a guide, I cut a piece of the sign to fit between the wooden strips on the other side of the box to act as an air shut off.  This will be held in place by a string around the box for easy removal.  Do not nail it on. It does not need to be held tightly as the vacuum will hold it in place when in use.

Next I cut a square from the sign to make a pivot door to close the hive when I pull off the suction tube, this will be attached to the box with a single screw and a washer. You could also make this out of the old can cover that came with the box.

Last, I assembled everything together and attached the hoses and vacuum source.  I needed a vacuum flow to be a slight suction at the bee end, to much and the bees would die from trauma. Starting with a small square hole for the vacuum spoiler, I enlarged it very slightly till I got the vacuum I was looking for. If you should cut the hole to large, just place some tape over it to increase the vacuum.

I placed some old rags in the floor of the box to act as a cushion for the bees when they are sucked into the box.

After sucking up the bees, unplug your bee suction hose and pivot the door closed.  The plastic insert (big red thing with hole) will pull easily from under the string, exposing a full side of the box for fresh air.

Bee vacuum strapped on ladder rung
I strapped this to a ladder rung, the extended top board rests on the step and keeps it in firmly place.  If the suction starts to drop because the bees in the box cluster at the vacuum source hole, turn off the vacuum and then a quick knock on the box will dislodge them, then begin again. If you make two of these, you can switch them out as the bee vacuum fills and keep on going.

Results:  It worked great only a few bees (maybe 10) died.  I just united these bees with another hive as I could not find the queen.  Total cost $0. Took me about an hour to build.

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