View Full Version : Shanghaied Workers?

05-08-2001, 11:50 PM
FYI. Package bees are not available in my region.

Does anyone think that it is possible to start a hive using only a queen bee and it's attendants (purchased queen).

Additional workers would be acquired by catching them at work (on flowers) and placing them in a sealed hive. The bees would be fed with a feeder.

Would kidnapped bees from other hives work in a new hive if they can't leave.

PS. They would have to build their own comb from virgin foundation as well.

05-09-2001, 07:00 AM
In my opinion, definitely not. A package of bees can contain up to 20 thousand workers, these workers start building comb as soon as they are placed in the hive so that in about three days when the queen is released she can start laying eggs and the workers then take care of the eggs, feeding and keeping the brood nest warm. A large population is the most important thing this time of year, trying to catch enough bees to build comb, take care of brood, keep the hive warm, and gather pollen and nector would be impractical if not impossible. Another option would be to find a beekeeper in the area and buy a five frame nuc from them. You will get five frames of brood at all stages, nurse bees to take care of this brood, a field force to gather food and a working queen. One more option is to keep your eyes and ears open and find a swarm of bees, I would however not try this after July first depending on where you live, the bees will not have enough time to build up before winter. I do not want to discourage you from keeping bees, but I don't want you to start off on the wrong foot.

Welcome aboard. You can learn alot from this forum, there are plenty of knowledgeable and friendly people here happy to share what they know. Let us know what you decide to do and how everything works out.


05-11-2001, 05:06 AM
Worker bees that have flown are already old bees, and you need young bees to take care of the queen. Old bees are apt to kill her. The attendants are not enough.

I have started new hives from old workers that clustered on the spot after loading truckloads of bees. But they are given frames of brood, to give the youngsters needed for queen attendants and brood attendants. Sometimes I give them caged queens, but they are well capable of raising queens if they have eggs. A friend just loaded a tractor trailor on a hot day and left about 20 pounds of bees. I started two ten frames hives and 7 four-frame nucs with brood that I gave them. By the way, I didn't just take them. He asked me to remove them, as he was afraid they would become a neighborhood nuisance. A large cluster of bees with no queen can get pretty mean.

Where are you going to get the worker bees, you were talking about? The bees you see foraging on flowers are your neighbor's livestock. You wouldn't take them, would you? That would be theft.

If you can get another beekeeper to sell you three frames of brood with adhering bees (it'll run around $15-20, then give them a caged queen and start off a nuc (nucleus colony), it's a fairly inexpensive way to start. Catching a swarm is another way. Swarms are most likely from another beekeeper, (there are very few wild honeybees), but old common law says they belong to him only as long as he keeps them in sight. Once they are lost, they become the property of anyone who captures them.

05-26-2001, 01:14 AM
Thanks for your help.