From David Morland, ADBKA Chair: I learnt recently that my Grandfather was the first bee scientist at Rothamsted and one of the founder members of the International Bee Research Association (IBRA). His books and papers were passed on to Eva Crane whose own collection was the foundation of the IBRA library. He was succeeded as […]
Yellow jackets. Not that you can see any in the picture, this was a call for a honey bee removal. I’ll give the caller credit for thinking they couldn’t be yellow jackets because they weren’t in the ground and they were in a hollow (sort of) cavity. Sometimes those pesky yellow jackets do things differently.
A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly.
Proverbial bee-keepers’ saying, mid 17th century; meaning that the later in the year it is, the less time there will be for bees to collect pollen from flowers in blossom.
A Facebook friend’s post this week told how a large honeybee swarm had taken up residence in an empty hive on his property. All on its own! He’d left the hive out all winter, “seasoning it with lemon grass every month,” (rubbing lemon grass into the wood), and the day before saw a scout bee […]
Occasionally, bees or wasps will make their home in the walls or a tree on your property. While getting them out may be tricky, it is worth finding out if it is possible. Read more about why you should have them removed instead of exterminating them below.
Typically beekeepers do not do removals from structures or trees, but some do. Removals from homes are most often a fee for service situation. Removals necessitate a specific skill set not taught in beekeeping.
First, if it’s a swarm, local beekeepers will typically gladly lend a hand to help you remove the bees and often at little or no charge. You get the bees removed, save yourself and your family exposure to insecticide, and get to feel good about saving one of our environment’s most valued pollinators.If the bees have established a colony within your home things get more complex. Always consult the advice of a bee removal service before spraying insecticides. Last year, I responded to a swarm call that turned out to be an established colony in a home. The lady of the house was standing outside the home spraying the colony entrance with insecticide. She had already depleted one can and was working on her second. While it may have been as easy as removing a small piece of soffet to extract the bees, I no longer was going to risk bringing back chemically laden bees to my home bee yard. But there is more to it that that. Aside from all her children standing around getting a good dose of the overspray from the can, she was killing the flying bees which feed and support the hive. This meant that thousands of larvae would die shortly thereafter and leave her with a rotting odor inside her home in the days that followed.
Another call I received in late summer had me arrive to find an inpatient landlord spraying inside an attic. He told me that he determined that the bees clustered on the outside were actually entering the house and had established a hive in the attic. He thanked me for coming, but said he didn’t have time to wait as he hoped to have the house rented later that day. Before leaving I told him that unless he wanted a damaged ceiling, drywall and furnishings, he should consider having the hive removed because without the bees fanning the wax comb, the comb would melt releasing perhaps gallons of honey, and he’d be receiving complains from his new tenants. (not to mention the smell of decaying bees and larva and attracting ants, roaches, and other pests for months to come).
In closing, consider that spraying the bees is a poor effort to quickly eliminate a complex problem, and will often lead to more expensive problems in the days that follow. The time spent consulting a local beekeeper or bee removal service first is time well invested.
Hanging Traps All but 6 traps have been baited and staged, out of the way. You might be wondering, “why so early?” Bees won’t be swarming yet in Indiana. To that I’d say you are right, but there are TWO good reasons to get traps baited and staged a little early. Much of what you read…
Source: Little Creek Bee Ranch
When you see a swarm of bees like this, over 12 feet in a tree, what to do? I’ve lost several very large swarms of Honey Bees, only because they where so high up in a tree (15 to 22 feet), that I had no chance of getting them back. It’s heart breaking to just stand there and look at them, knowing you aren’t going to be able to catch them back. They might stay there for a day or two, but that’s about it. Therefore, I came up with a serious plan for being able to catch them back. If you’ll pay close attention to how we go about this, I’m certain you’ll benefit from these tips.
Get your gear together, and setup. The pole and bucket that you see, is PRICELESS! The pole came from Atwoods, cost is about $15. It’s a paint pole, that extends. The bucket on the end of the pole was bought from Brushy Mountain bee supply company, here’s the link for the bucket,
cost is $35. Yes, you can figure out how to make your own if you’d like. I needed one, and quick, so I just bought my bucket.
You might need a helping hand in order to get this job done. Bees that have swarmed, are heavy with honey. Once the main swarm of bees hits the bottom of the bucket, you can’t just TIP the pole over and dump it into the hive….the aluminum pole will just snap. After the bees hit the bottom of the bucket, one person holds the pole upright, while the other person screws the black handle lose, and let the pole slide down into itslef, and THEN you can dump them into a hive.
Get the bucket positioned under the swarm and give a solid push. Make certain that the swarm itself is even inside the bucket, before you thump them off the limb. You’ll feel the weight hit the bottom of the bucket, and then it’s up to you and your helper to get the pole upright, and keep it that way. Once the swarm hits the bottom of the bucket, pull the chord hard and close the lid on top of the bucket. Before I put the bucket up in the tree, I spritz inside with some sugar water.
Once the pole is under control, losen the handle and let the bucket come down to a managable level. Then you can walk over and dump them into a hive body. Be sure to take out several frames in order for the bees to have plenty of room to make it into the box.
You may even have to go back up with the bucket in order to get another shot at the remainder of the bees. You may do this several times, at least. The point here is; once the initial swarm has been in the bucket, that BEE SMELL from the Queen becomes your “bee lure”. Use it to your advantage. The bees will come down into the bucket in order to find the Queen. You should have gotten the Queen in the first grab.
You might even leave the pole and bucket up against the tree for a few minutes, in order to the bees to settle in the bucket. You might even put in a few old, black brood frames if you have some extra. Bees love these black frames!
Have your helper take off the hive lid, and dump in more bees. This is repeated about 4 times, or more.
Notice on the hive above, the porch entrance is blocked with a towel. I have placed sugar water on them. I left the hole in the box OPEN. Once the bees get oriented inside this box, they’ll start coming out for a look.
You can go back up for more bees.
Dump them in the box. Each time, you must COLLAPSE the pole.
Leave the pole against the tree for a few minutes. Bees that are flying around, will settle down, and find their way into the bucket to have a look around. You can close the lid again, and bring them down. They’re a bit confused and lost. Help them find their new home!
Letting them settle into their new home.
Let the bucket lure in more bees.
Collapse the pole, bring down more bees.
Dump into hive body. Put the lid back on top of the hive body, but upside down…which makes it easier to remove and put back on. We want this lid to stay on while we work the bucket. I want the bees to come back out of the hole, and begin to fan. They’ll “pooch and fan”, telling their sisters to “Come home! Come home! The food is here, and the Queen is here! Come home!” This is what you’re looking for, so watch the bees closely.
When you bring your bucket back down, with more bees in it, just set the bucket facing the front of the hive, or tap the bucket off upside down in front of the hive. They’ll quickly figure out where their new home is located.
All of these bees got up and made their way into their new home. After about an hour, these bees where all settled down in their new home. We left the hive in this wagon over night, giving the Scout bees a chance to make it back into their new home also. Later that night, well after sundown, I came out and plugged the hole with Cotton. Early the next morning, I gently moved this wagon to where I wanted to place them on my property. Sadly, within a week, we had a bad cold snap, and temps got well below freezing and we lost all of these bees. I was heart broken, after having done all that work. We fed them properly, but to no avail. They don’t always grab food that is close by. On the flip side, this was our first big catch with our Pole & Bucket system. We learned a lot, and felt much more confident about our abilities to catch HIGH SWARMS. If there are swarms that are over 22 feet up in a tree, we’ll just let them go. By doing so, I populate the surrounding area with “wild bees”, in hopes of a KICK BACK swarm in the next few years.
Get you a pole at Atwoods and a make you up a bucket or buy one from Brushy Mountain. You’re sure to need one, if you’re going to keep bees!! Otherwise, you’ll be standing there just like I did for 2 years, wondering what to do.
Source: Little Creek Bee Ranch
Swarm Season is approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, I can see that interest in the subject is growing from my Stats. In the coming weeks I will be talking about some podcasts I have been on about Bees. They will be posted in chronological order. If you have some time and want to hear about trapping and treatment-free beekeeping give them a listen.
In this podcast from 2013 I had been trapping for only a couple years. I can hear the lack of confidence in some of my responses, but others surprised me with how inspired I had already become with trapping and observing the resulting colonies grow and become productive. Several times, Jack questioned as to why I was doing different things. This was was particularly true when asking about placing traps near known bee trees. The reason I was doing it was because I didn’t know what would happen. The experiments I was working on at that time led me to the methods I am currently using.
Some of the practices I was using then have changed. Other more productive practices have been picked up through observation. Of specific note in this podcast: I currently recommend you literally place swarm traps, anywhere you can. You never know what’s going to happen. I have been capturing hardy stock at established yards repeatedly now for a couple years. At the time of this recording I had never observed this behavior. If you have a hive-stand and it’s not full of active colonies there should be a baited hive body setting there. If you find productive lines of bees that overwinter well and swarm back to the hive stand it is a great way to increase your number of colonies.
Jack tripped me up a little while discussing trapping in locations with Africanized honeybees. I still have no direct experience with AHB, but feel confident that honeybees can be safely captured where both are living. After trap occupation they should be evaluated for aggression. A larger trap volume is theorized to be preferred by European Honeybees. If you live in a location known to have AHB use traps of at least 31 LITERS and make sure they are bee tight. Standard Langstroth deeps are slightly larger than 40 liters and are a great resource as a starting material for swarm traps.
I have communicated with hundreds of people trapping bees in AHB areas over the years since this was recorded. I have received no reports of individuals catching bees in traps that were too aggressive to work. The bees are reported as “hotter” than those typically purchased as packages, but they DON’T DIE. Bees living a feral existence are not bred for docility. I will take bees that require a veil, gloves and smoke to dead bees, so I feel I can tolerate “some” expression of guard behavior.
If captured bees display an unacceptable level of aggression a couple avenues are available. Perhaps another beekeeper in your area would be willing to take them. If they have secluded bee yards perhaps they could be left alone to be productive. If they are too aggressive for you or give away they should be SELECTED AGAINST and destroyed. Luckily I’ve never felt the need to do this. I would recommend it be done in the trap using a method that did not use chemicals. When evaluating CATCHES, observe the level of aggression. If they do not meet your criteria they can at least be shut into the trap and disposed of. Then get to catching more bees.
Jack’s show, The Survival Podcast is a daily mix of practical knowledge about steps that can be taken to create a stable fulfilling life in today’s world. Many of these seemingly different topics have aided at different times in my beekeepin experience. Jack introduced me to the design science of Permaculture, which led me to Swarm Trapping. Visualizing a dead colony of bees as a resource instead of as a direct loss, and turning a “waste product” into more bees came from reading about Permaculture. I highly recommend the show and think listening to it will make you a better beekeeper. If you listen you will find that it will help your life in general.
Being self sufficient is at the heart of beekeeping, both for bees and beekeepers. Sourcing through trapping allows for you to obtain local bees by building a simple device. Many swarms can be captured in a single trap over many years with minimal maintenance. Breaking the bond between a colony of bees and a PRICE-TAG makes beekeeping much more fun and easy to justify as a use of your time. Trapping makes you more resilient. You can take the PUNCH of losing colonies and not be OUT of beekeeping. Take the opportunity listen to 1217 and other episodes of the The Survival Podcast.
Here is a link to the original posting about this episode from 9/30/2013.
Are you getting exciting as Spring approaches?
Are you ready?!?
Usual disclaimer: All beekeeping is local. The following is based on my experience in the Midlands of South Carolina.
Monitor for queen cells – check suspect hives every 7 days for swarm cells hanging under upper boxes in hives with screen bottom boards and all boxes in hives with solid bottom boards.
Control swarming. Capture swarms. Begin IPM program.
Beginning of nectar flow in earnest. Plan on checking every two weeks for hive body management.
Second and additional super(s) placed beginning of this month.
Install and feed any packages purchased. Feed splits. Feed captured swarms.
Unite weak colonies with strong colonies unless suspect of disease.
Do splits if at all possible if queens available (order queens when club orders packages). No longer time for colony to re-queen self in time to raise foraging bees for flow. Failure to make splits may lead to trouble with congested hive, queen cell building, etc. If needed, split any hives not previously split and re-queen any weak queens. Queens should now be available if needed.
Place beetle traps or other hive beetle management items.
Watch for swarms.
Notice Dogwood blooming, Azaleas in earnest first week.
1)Install supers on all hives. On strong hives, install multiple supers if frames have drawn comb. Weak or medium hives should receive less supers accordingly. Periodic checks should be made during the honey flow to see if additional supers are needed.
2) If not already done, Swarm Traps should be in position at various points 360 degrees surrounding apiary. Place traps at 50yds. to 150 yards away from colonies, edges of open fields, close to “bee” landmarks, scent with lemongrass oil, 1 1/4″ entrance.
April 1st – April 30th
1) install package bees if not done so already feeding them 1:1 sugar syrup
2) check colonies to see if additional empty supers are needed on strong colonies
3) replace weak queens
4) watch for swarms and capture, if possible
5) place beetle traps in colonies, if you see lots of beetles (> 20 beetles)
This was done online at canva – I was full of ideas until I started playing with it, it’s not the final one .. but was interesting to have a play with. It needs making more even. The templates are there to play with so I might have another go and see what I can […]
Our swarm season has officially begun here in the Midlands of South Carolina. New beekeepers and old enjoy the thrill of the chase which kicks in the excitement factor associated with gathering a swarm.
So what does it take to catch a swarm? I was doing a quick search this morning to determine the ideal swarm catchers equipment list and I was struck by a web page I stumbled upon which detailed the swarm catching of a young sixteen year old making a few bucks while providing a valuable community service during the spring swarm season. What impressed me the most was the young man’s minimalist approach to necessary gear. Basically he had a cardboard office supplies box reinforced with duct tape with a makeshift screen on the lid. His second piece of equipment s a plant mister/sprayer with some sugar water. Otherwise he wings it.
I know I have been caught out without any equipment while driving around yet stopped and the property owner and I have found a box, a ladder, and a pruning shear to successfully capture a swarm. Once home it’s easy enough to put them into a proper box.
But let’s say you really want to gather a swarm this year and would feel more comfortable having a few items in your car or truck ready to make short work of almost any situation. What items are in the swarm catcher’s essentials bag? Well, probably a standard Langstroth box with frames. If space in your car or truck is a concern a five frame nucleus box (wooden or cardboard) will suffice. Next is a mister bottle of sugar water to wet the cluster down prior to shaking them or moving to your box. It isn’t essential but the bees will stay together nicely and it gives them something to occupy themselves with while you work with them. Other items which the homeowner may not have available: ladder, pruning shears or loppers, small handsaw, bee suit. That’s pretty much all that’s needed to handle most situations. An extra suit is nice if the homeowner wants to get involved. Often they are interested and it’s a good time to do some community education.
Here are a couple links if you’re interested in gathering swarms. And also, if you think you’d be interested join one of the online swarm call lists to have your name out there for people in your community to call. Warning: It’s addicting!
After reading about the Russian Scion last year I have been eager to make and employ one in my own bee yard. Having used swarm traps with great success I know that swarms can often be retrieved before flying off. However, sometimes issuing swarms choose high ranches or remain out of sight of the beekeeper. The scion adds another opportunity to the beekeeper prior to the swarm trap. Since I am home most days and walk my bee yard daily, hopefully I’ll be able to attract them to the easily retrievable scion, and hive them instead of relying on the traps which are also located on site. Below is a good post found on http://www.beesource.com posted by DocBB with some nice pictures:
I found a almost unknown device for us but which is of a common use in every Russian apiary is the “Scion” – (Привой и роевня)
It is a trap or a shelter to catch the swarm as early as possible without (may be) climbing trees.
Can you find it here on the plan?
There are many “designs” but it is commonly settled not far and in front of the hives entrances , one or several of them according to the size of the apiary
The traditional model is a 20-30 cm wide and 30-40 cm plank with one cleat fixed vertically in the middle , more or less rolled with burlap and coated with
alcoholic solution of propolis and flavoured with essential oils (lemongrass, etc.)
It seems to work !
and the use of one or more old frame is not forbidden
or an old propolised burlap
One of the first things that will present itself to us in the spring (actually late, late winter) is swarms. And they are great fun too (unless they are your bees). There are many ways to capture swarms such as trapping and climbing ladders. But one device I have learned to appreciate more than any other for getting me up where I need to be is the extendable pole bucket swarm catcher. A couple years ago we featured an article in our local bee association newsletter and linked to this blog which has some nice pictures. I made mine after seeing someone else’s and they aren’t difficult to build using an old bucket and a painter’s pole. Oh, the reason I’m posting this today is because this is a great winter project and one you don’t want to be wishing you had built when you see that swarm hanging in a tree.
The Winter Solstice means something different to beekeepers. It’s typically associated with the beginning of winter for humans. But for the bees it’s the beginning of spring. Very slowly, as the days lengthen the queen will begin an increase in the number of eggs she lays. On a colony level, for the bees, the goal is to have a full staff of bees ready to reproduce on a colony level (i.e. swarm) at the beginning of plant nectar and pollen production (best chance of survival). That means preparations such as brood rearing begin during the first months of the new year resulting in hives bubbling over with bees by March. But it has other ramifications for the beekeeper wishing to discourage that workforce from leaving. The beekeeper seeks to 1) encourage brood rearing while 2) protecting the colony from starvation as the bees feed ever increasing numbers of larvae, while 3) discouraging swarm preparations in the same time period. It’s like walking a tightrope!
Last year first swarms came early in the South Carolina Midlands- around March 1st. That sounds like a long time from now but it will get here sooner than you think and swarms are unforgiving with beekeeper tardiness. Building and getting ready for swarm trapping is something that you should consider doing during these off months of winter. Remember, once swarm season starts you’ll probably be caught up in preparing your own hives for the primary nectar flow and have a limited amount of time to prepare traps. However, for t…hose who are prepared there will be free bees. Here are a few sites I recommend:
And multiple videos by outofabluesky:
I promote swarm traps as another part of good beekeeping. Swarm management starts within your own hives and can go a long way to reducing the number of swarms that issue from your apiary. Intensive management can come close to eliminating swarms. However, life happens and you will experience the occasional swarm. Some thought…s on the matter:
1) The swarms you catch in a trap will typically perform better than the ones you knock out of a tree.
2) You’ll lose a portion of the swarms that issue for various reasons like too high in a tree, etc. It’s really nice when that swarm you had to leave in the tree shows up in your trap the next day.
3) Coupled with good swarm management in the hive, and capture of those swarms easy to gather, adding traps is good stewardship. Dr. Lawrence Connor in his book, Increase Essentials, says only 1 in 6 swarms survive their first winter. By capturing them you’re increasing their chances of survival.
4) Swarm captures makes better neighbors. Some neighbors will be as fascinated as you at the miracle of swarming; others won’t. Capturing your own swarms may prevent you some heartache.