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Thread: Swarming?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Lincolnshire UK
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    19

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    I have toyed with the idea of having bees for a number of years and this year I have retired (at 65) and had decided to make myself a hive this coming winter
    I rent an old farmhouse in the Lincolnshire Wolds, UK. My landlord, an agribusinessman, this year decided to grow borage round us. So here am I, having toyed with the idea of having beehives, but not got round to it, surrounded by 200 acres of borage flowers. August 8th a tractor arrived and put 60 hives along the hedge in the next field. The only free standing water is the pond adjacent to our back door so we have, as you can imagine, been visited by quite a number of our new neighbours. (our nearest human neighbours are over a mile away so I don’t have to consider anyone else in the following question)
    If I make myself a TBH and put this within 50 yards of the 60 hives if any of them swarm is the swarm likely to take occupation of my new hive? Is there anything I can do to make a new hive more attractive to them? Is this likely to make the owner of the hives angry – if he sees my hive? Will the bees have sufficient time to do whatever it is they do before the winter? I am quite prepared to feed if this is required to ensure an early start next year.
    If it is likely that the existing hives will swarm if there is new accommodation available did I ought to make more TBHs? Looking at this site it would appear that my greedy children, grandchildren and even one great granddaughter will need more than one hive to satisfy their sweet teeth.
    Whilst I have asked at least one right question I have no doubt at all that there are many more questions that I should have asked were I not an ignorant newbie so any advice anyone can give will be gratefully received.

  2. #2

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    Hello there,
    I dont think its a good idea.If the beekeeper sees what you are doing he will be probably somewhat iritated.A friend beekeeper here had this same situation.His neighbour has set a trap hive like you want to, and the reaction of my friend was,applaying of all posible antiswarming tehniques.
    I think it would be much better to get to know that beekeeper and learn as much as you can from him.Maybe he will even help you somehow to get your first colony.Besides,I think it is to late to catch a swarm.
    "Do nothing. Time is too precious to waste." Buddha

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,750

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    I figure a swarm is fair game. A bait hive won't make them swarm.

    But I wouldn't want to have a hive near 60 others. I wouldn't think there'd be enough forage for all of them.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    El Dorado County, CA
    Posts
    605

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    it sounds like the bees are calling you and i think you should answer in the affirmative.
    tbh's are so rare around here i'm not sure beekeepers would know one if they saw one.
    i'd love to see two hundred acres of borage. i have a few patches, it makes an interesting addition to bouquets and salad mix (it's cucumberesque). with two hundred acres of borage i'd think there's always room for one more hive. just go in knowing yields might be low. borage reseeds its self so well you might have it for years to come even if its not sown as a main crop. it's related to cumfrey and to much of the leaf or tea can be bad for the liver.
    what form of the plant is being marketed?
    all that is gold does not glitter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Lincolnshire UK
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    19

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    Many thanks for the replies.
    I have to say that the question of forage puzzled me too. The hive owner obviously didn't care to check whether his bees had water nor did he have the decency to call on me having put 60 hives within 150 yards of my house door and knowing that we did have the only standing water.
    I assume that 200 acres of borage in flower would be enough for 60 hives at least until the flowering finishes and the crop is cut. What happens then goodness knows.
    My intention in this is only to provide accommodation in case any of the hives swarm so that I have a colony for next year NOT to encourage swarming. I am now firmly of the intention to become an amateur beekeeper and shall be wending my way to Thornes (beekeepers requisites supplied to the gentry downcherknow!!) either today or tomorrow for books/videos and a veil (just in case I meet the 60 hive owner and can get him to show me his hives). In the meantime I shall be sorting some of the wood from my log pile to cut to make my first TBH.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Lincolnshire UK
    Posts
    19

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    Hi Stangardener. The borage is being grown commercially to produce Star Flower oil for the health food market (encapsulated and sold for quite a high price). It seems to be smaller than the usual wild borage we get in Lincolnshire (brought by the Romans)but produces many flowers and consequently much seed. The seeds of the last crop my landlord grew on his other land last year he sold for around $2,700 a ton. This crop is not so great as we had major thunderstorms with hail at the critical time which knocked a lot of flower off. The plants seem to have recovered though and are flowering well.
    The farm manager tells me that next year he will be sowing wheat but the year after is likely to be rape, which I understand produces rather a rich honey that is very liable to crystallise. This wont matter though 'cos everything I produce will be for home consumption.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Rockport, MA, USA
    Posts
    4

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    It sounds to me like the bees were put there primarily for pollination. The farmer might be paying a beekeeper to run them for him. Did you ask the farm manager about that? If so, it explains the almost casual nature with which they were placed, as they wouldn't have been terribly concerned about honey or wax.

    If this is the case, I can't imagine the beekeeper or farmer would care about you catching swarms, and would in fact be very happy to hear that you intended on keeping a large hive. More bees to pollinate, and they don't have to bear the cost or effort.

    I don't know this personally, but based on what I've been reading from some of our esteemed forum members' web sites your hive(s) will likely be happier, healthier, and will be able to outcompete the bees in the less tended Lang hives. Heck, they might even be doing what some commercial keepers do here in the states: kill all the bees after the pollination season is over. That makes me shake my head, but the reason they do it is because it is cheaper here to do that than maintain the hives through a season of non productivity (because they are not selling honey/wax as a primary product). I would imagine they can create queens relatively easily with a few carefully tended hives that they use as 'seed' hives.

    Maybe more knowledgeable folks will read this post and enlighten us as to the details of that (admittedly awful) practice.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Lincolnshire UK
    Posts
    19

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    I cannot imagine the mindset of anyone to whom living creatures are "tools" to be disposed of in that way. I shuddered when I read your post.
    Incidentally I visited our local supplier today and their expert tells me that there is no chance of any swarming now as it is too late in the year. This gives me the winter to make some hives. The expert was very negative about TBHs (but then he is in the business of selling hives isn't he. Mainly Nationals but some Langstroths. They even sell a full plywood TBH kit for $85).
    I shall be reading everyone's posts as the year progresses and come the spring will, no doubt, be full of questions.

  9. #9

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    i'm not sure of you climate but here the bees are still swarming here. i've caught two this week,and it's only Tuesday!
    so if you have the wood and time too make one.
    make it. to make it attractive use lemon grass oil,use some bees wax starter stips on top bars,don't go into the poor house for materials use scraps.even if you don't catch a swarm it's fun watching the bees.
    bob

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    El Dorado County, CA
    Posts
    605

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    -i'm not sure of you climate but here the bees are still swarming here. i've caught two this week,and it's only Tuesday!

    i'm up to three this week. the bad part though is it's my bees and the same swarm
    all that is gold does not glitter

  11. Post

    I suggest putting your empty hive further away than 50 yards. Studies on swarm site selection indicate that 50 yards is the minimum distance swarms choose for a new hive, and typically the distance is much greater - several hundred yards. We're talking about where the swarm ends up, not where it initially clusters.

    Keep in mind what a swarm is - the bees' method of migration. Greater distance between hives reduces competition. Putting hives near each other is what beekeepers do, it's now what happens in nature.

  12. Post

    Typo in last post:

    "it's now what happens in nature."

    S.B.

    "it's *not* what happens in nature."

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
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    1,083

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    When you get your hives ready, pick up some lemongrass oil at a health food store and put 2 to 4 drops on a ball of cotton inside the hive about once a month. This will attract the bees attention to the hive and increase the likelihood that some will lead a swarm there. Bees can swarm almost any time of year, but the best swarms are usually in March, April, or May in this part of the world. The spring swarms have more time to build up before the main honey flow and get ready for the next winter after the honey is harvested.
    doug

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Lincolnshire UK
    Posts
    19

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    The borage was cut last week 23/24th August. There is now very little forage for any bees let alone 60 hives worth. The day before yesterday someone arrived and took away 30 of the hives. They did not come the night before to close the hives but arrived just after midday moved the hives about half a mile away, appeared (through my binoculars) to close down the hives firmly on a trailer and drove off. By four o'clock there were thousands of homeless bees flying where the hives had been standing. Presumably these will die either of exhaustion or starvation in a few days.
    I presume that ordinary beekeepers do not behave this way but have enough concern to close the hives properly at night before moving them the day after. The NBC video indicated that even commercial beekeepers in America move their hives at night to save the bees stress.
    Goodness knows what is to happen to the remaining hives. Whether they will be moved or left seems in the lap of the Gods.
    I shall be building some TBHs over the winter and will have these ready wiped inside with lemon grass oil and beeswax and in the position by the time the first bees start stirring next spring just in case some hives are left in the field and the bees feel a swarm coming on!!. Incidentally Farrow and Ball, paint manufacturers in the UK tell me that their chemists have confirmed that their exterior emulsion paint is suitable for beehives. It does contain an algicide and fungicide but no insecticide.
    Many thanks to you all for the information.

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