Archive for the ‘Bait Hives’ Category

Grand Kids Log Hive

October 8.....Grand Kids Log hive might be showing signs of a comeback.

October 8…..Grand Kids Log hive might be showing signs of a comeback.

About a month ago, I was in despair about this hive.  The temperature had dropped, I saw drones flying out of the hive, and the number of bees around the entrance had declined.

Sept. 3...The temperature has dropped to 87˙F. I've seen this happen before. The temperature drops indicating there is no brood up here. It could just be that the eggs are being laid in a different section or that no eggs are being laid at all.

Sept. 3…The temperature has dropped to 87˙F. I’ve seen this happen before. The temperature drops indicating there is no brood up here. It could either be that the eggs are being laid in a different section or that no eggs are being laid at all.

Sept. 3.....I've been seeing more comb now. I'm not happy about it because it means there are fewer bees. What is happening?

Sept. 3…..I’ve been seeing more comb now. I’m not happy about it because it means there are fewer bees. What is happening?

Sept. 17...Then I saw a drone exiting. I took it to mean I had a laying worker. Not good. This hive is 'going down.'

Sept. 17…Then I saw a drone exiting. I took it to mean I had a laying worker. Not good. This hive is ‘going down.’

Sept. 21...The bee population is dwindling. What more evidence do I need that this hive is history.

Sept. 21…The bee population is dwindling. What more evidence do I need that this hive is history?

Oct. 4...Temp has risen 2˙F. What is happening?

Oct. 4…Temp has risen 2˙F.   That’s interesting.

Oct. 6...Are there more bees here?

Oct. 6…Are there more bees up there?

Oct. 17.....I had just visited a big hive that had gotten robbed out. I was worried these might be robber bees because when I looked inside the hive, the bees were running around on the inside of the hive.

Oct. 17…..It looks like there’s a lot more traffic here.  I hope they aren’t robber bees.

Oct. 23.....WOW! Look at all these bees inside!!! The hive must have superceded, but why had I seen a few drones last month?

Oct. 23…..WOW! Look at all these bees inside!!! The hive must have superceded, but why had I seen drones last month?

Note:  I asked this question on beesource web site.  Harley Craig answered  “…those drones could have been from anywhere in my limited experience when you see a lot of drone interest in a particular hive they typically have a queen getting ready to mate or just had one return.”  Maybe drones were already sniffing out a new prospect. 🙂

November 4...New comb has been built.  This new queen is ambitious, but is November a good month to be building new comb?

November 4…New comb has been built. This new queen is ambitious, but is November a good month to be building new comb?

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Tree hive, and how it got here

Lucky number 7…I caught bees in this bait box last year, so it was a good choice to use.

Yesterday I caught a swarm from Bee Beard Log hive and put it into my back-up Warre.

I thought I had some time to finish my second log hive before another swarm would take place.  Not so.  On April 18 two more swarms came out.  These are cast swarms…more than likely the queen has not been mated yet.  What to do?  I had already used my back-up Warre and there were some work responsibilities staring me in the face…deadlines that couldn’t be put off any longer because “people are depending on you, Pat!”  Okay, I’ll get the deadlines done first and get the bees figured out in the morning…it rained all night.  My wife suggested I adapt a bait box.  Last year after reading McCartney Taylor’s book on swarm bait hives, I had built nine swarm bait boxes  and placed them in different spots hoping to attract a swarm.  I was successful in two of them.  One I gave away and lucky number 7 went into my new log hive.

After some initial resistance, I realized she had a good idea.  The box is already built.  I just need to add some Warre length top bars…it’s also a good size of 40 liters as recommended by Tom Seeley in his book “Honeybee Democracy.”

First job is to wax up some top bars…

Painted melted wax on top bars

Painted melted wax on top bars

Prewaxed top bars installed into former swarm bait box after scorching the inside.

Three waxed top bars installed into former swarm bait box after scorching the inside.

The above picture shows only three top bars.  I added a total of 12 because I wasn’t sure when I’d get another Warre and at the time I wanted to be able to add these bees to my next log hive if I ever get it done.  I also tapped some panel nails in to keep the bars from sliding when I tilt hive with bees into the tree.  The bars have a slot for the nails, so they will lift out easily.

I like the idea of a ‘quilt box,’ so I cut another bait hive down to make one.

Hardware cloth on the bottom keeps the burlap 'quilt' from getting glued to the bars.  That way the sawdust won't spill into the brood box.

Hardware cloth on the bottom keeps the burlap ‘quilt’ from getting glued to the bars. That way the sawdust won’t spill into the brood box.

I drilled several holes into the quilt box covering them with screen.  That way the hive can breathe and keep the hive scent.  I used myrtlewood sawdust for two reasons…feral bees live in myrtlewood trees and I had a lot of it left over from hollowing out my next log hive.  Actually some of my bees came from a feral hive in a myrtlewood tree last year.

I'm beginning to think bamboo is the ideal swarm catcher...this is the fourth swarm to land in bamboo.

I’m beginning to think bamboo is the ideal swarm catcher…this is the fourth swarm to land in it.

After bending branches and snipping them, we managed to get the majority of bees into the box.

"Hey everyone, the queen is over here in the box."  (The bees are fanning the pheramone.)

“Hey everyone, the queen is over here in the box.” (The bees are fanning the nasonov pheromone.)

Day 5, they're bringing back pollen already...a sign of a laying queen.

Day 5, they’re bringing back pollen already…a sign of a laying queen.

A short video of swarm activity.  The main video that shows us getting the swarm in the box has disappeared due to Pat’s incompetence.

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This short video shows the progress of the swarm that was  transferred from the bait hive to Bee Beard on June 2nd.  Now after 7 weeks, viewing through the observation window, you can see the bottom of the bee cluster is below the level of the mouth entrance.  Initially, bee beard would face southwest into the winter wind.  For that reason, an alternate entrance was drilled towards the north rear.  When we decided to locate Bee Beard facing east, that alternate entrance was plugged with tissue paper.  To my surprise, the bees have just pulled out that tissue paper and you can see a bee flying out with a bit.  In the slightly out of focus video through the observation window, you can see bees carrying out bits of paper.  Also seen are bees carrying pollen from blackberries and St. John’s Wort…my bees won’t suffer from depression!

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Saturday brought the usual “check the bait boxes routine”, sigh over no bees yet, and daub some lemon grass oil on the outside. The first box I looked at was on the feral tree on private land. “WOW, I’ve got bees and they’re bringing in pollen. That means they’ve got a laying queen.” What do I do now? I’ll check the other bait hive across from the park…”WOW, that’s got bees too, and they’re are also bringing in pollen. Yikes, I can’t handle two at once.” I talked with Hal who advised me to wait until all the foragers came in. That would be another two hours. Went home to get my wife so she could provide moral support.

At 8:15 pm we stuffed some paper into the entrance hole and duct taped it securely. Got back around 8:45 pm. Should we stick them in now or wait til morning? We might get rain in the morning and it’ll only take a few minutes, let’s just put them in now. Plan is to unscrew the lid of the bait box, lift out the bars, put them in the top of Bee Beard log hive, put the quilt box in and pivot the hat back in place.

Since I had just had a successful swarm retrieval two days prior, I had confidence this would take about 15 minutes then we sit down for a cup of tea and congratulate ourselves.

The transfer did not go as planned…I didn’t suit up properly, it was almost dark, and as soon as I started to remove the lid I knew I was in trouble. Wife says…”sounds like they’re mad.” I tried gently lifting the bars out, but had to jerk them a bit. The bees went ballistic. Then the stings started. They got up into my bee suit between the veil and my face, up my pant legs, and on my wrists. At least I found out I’m not allergic to multiple bee stings, although I’m itching a bit. I had to vacate the area with the box lid part way open, the top of the log hive open, and our confidence shot.

All night I’m trying to formulate a plan of action for the next day…wondering what the heck I was doing…how did I ever think I would be able to pull this off, are these bees going to attack my wife and I when we’re working in the garden? What about our pets? Why did I want feral bees? What was I thinking?

Next day I called Shigeo from the Coos County Beekeepers Association. We talked about the incident and about the other bait hive which I was NOT about to get. He says to call Randy. Well, I know Randy, he’s awfully busy with his regular job, plus the last count of swarms he had gotten, was 23 and that was a week ago. He probably doesn’t need any more. I’ll call Del, another club member. We talk for awhile, he builds up my confidence and says “call Randy.” I call Randy who luckily happens to be working with the bees in the blueberry farm on the coast. (my area). Randy says he’ll be over as he finished up early on the blueberries.

I better get ready. Find the smoker. (never been used), light it up so it looks like we know what we’re doing. Very soon, Randy and Loni were driving in. “Hey I got my smoker lit up, do you want it?” “Don’t need it with suits, besides the bees don’t like smoke.” They zipped up their veils, walked confidently up to the hive, bees still circling angrily. Within a few minutes, they emptied the bait box of the remaining bees, got the bars into the log hive, installed the quilt box and pivoted the hat in place. They said the bees will settle down in a while and not too worry too much about working in the garden, they’d get used to you, but if they go through a dearth, they might get a little testy. We were much relieved.

It was nice to see a husband and wife team working with bees. They have worked together for about 20 years so know exactly what to do to put things right. Their business name is Oregon Mountain Wild Honey.

Randy and Loni after getting bees into Bee Beard

Randy and Loni give us a taste of their blueberry honey, fresh off the comb

A short video of Bee Beard can be seen here… Bee Beard Gets Bees

Video of the carving of Bee Beard

Hollowing out the log.

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I had hung two bait hives in a state park, admittedly without prior permission, but up high, in no one’s way. This was a spot where a tall bee tree was located. Each week I would visit, check the box and dab a little lemon grass oil on the outside near the entrance. I had been doing that for three weeks and on the fourth week the hives were gone. I was astonished. Who could have taken them? Only another beekeeper would really want them, but the size was for my Warre Hive and Log hive, not a common ‘Lang.’ Would vandals completely remove them? They’re a little heavy and you need a ladder to reach up to them. I walked around and around trying to puzzle it out when I noticed a business card laying on the ground. It had the name of a park ranger. I emailed him and, you guessed it, HE removed the hives. It turns out that you (me) are not allowed to hang bait hives in a state park.

“…we cannot set the precedent to collect any species for private use.” “We also don’t want to add a liability in regards to a swarm of bees at a park.”

So I consulted my beekeeper sources who advised me to hang a bait hive across the road in some trees. I took their advice…

Bait hive in small tree east of feral bee hive in state park. Maybe a better location because it’s more hidden.

The other bait hive went to a private party. I had talked to a pest control person, giving him my solarbeez.com business card and asking him to tell me of any bee swarms that he might be called for. He told me of a bee tree in a small town that I was familiar with. I contacted the owner who let me hang a bait hive on the very tree where the bees were flying in and out.

Feral Bee Tree on Private Land. Bees loaded with pollen. Wife and I standing near the flight path with no unfriendly bee problems. I would really, really like to get a swarm from this tree.

My log hive is eagerly awaiting some bees and I’m eagerly anxious to accommodate.

Footnote:  The bees from this tree are now populating my Bee Beard log hive!

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Randy seems to know all the bee trees in the county.  I asked him if he thought hanging a bait hive up a certain logging road would be permissible with the owners.  He said “There’s no bees up there.  What you ought to do, is hang it at (a not to be disclosed) wayside.  There’s a bee tree there.”  Deep in the middle of a shaded grove of Myrtlewood trees was a bee tree.  It was spotted by a picnicker who was interested in what I was doing.  About 20-25 feet (6-8 meters) up was a bunch of bee activity. I chose a tree about 50 feet (15 meters) away facing the river to hang the bait hive after baiting it with old comb and LGO. The family of picnickers and their kids were excited to  learn the plight of the bees and what backyard beekeepers are doing to help out.

It’s not as pretty as Bernhard Zaunreiter‘s, but hopefully it’ll do the job.

Updated to “Kicked out of State Park.”

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All of a sudden it’s time to get serious about this.  I built most of the bait hives in February.  April and May are the best months on the Oregon Coast.  I don’t want to start too late because I’ll be advised to feed the bees and I DON’T want to do that.

This one is not as high as I would like, but it’s a start.  I’m using old brood comb from last year, some melted pine sap, and Lemon Grass Oil.  I’ll check it in a week and daub some more LGO on the outside of the hive.

I used a ladder with this one and got a little higher.  This one has top bars that fit a Warre Hive.  It’s located within walking distance of my house so I can check on it more often.  It’s located near a creek in a stand of firs and cedars.

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