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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    North Salem, IN, USA
    Posts
    72

    Default Tree Trap-Out - Caught the Queen

    I started a trap out in a cherry tree two months ago and wanted to do something different in order to "harvest" bees. The bees were using knot holes for entrances up and down the tree so I foamed all but one. I bored a 1" hole in the remaining one, screwed a hose fitting in it and did the same thing to a nuc box, then connected the hose. My thought was that once the tree cavity was full the bees (after being forced through the nuc) they would start to fill up the nuc. I checked them this weekend and the queen had moved into the nuc! There were three frames with some eggs/brood and some pollen/nectar and the two outside frames were capped honey. I took those five frames with the queen and moved them to a deep and "reloaded" the nuc with some new frames. I could see pollen being moved throught the tube into the tree so they must have some brood rearing going on in there. They should be able to make a new queen for me to continue harvesting bees as long as there are some fresh eggs in the tree.

    Just wanted to share and was curious to see if anyone else has tried something similar with the same results. I am going to give this a shot earlier next season if I can find some more trees. I think two nucs could be had off of each tree if started early enough in the season, especially prior to swarms kicking off.
    Braun
    DSCF0587.jpg

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tree Trap-Out - Caught the Queen

    Very interesting. Did you stop up the last hole in the tree, so that the bees must come and go via only the nuc? I wonder what inspired the queen to move out of the tree and into the nuc.
    So your plan is to let the tree bees serve as a donor hive basically, and you'll just harvest off a nuc or two each summer?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    North Salem, IN, USA
    Posts
    72

    Default Re: Tree Trap-Out - Caught the Queen

    Tom,
    Yes, the only way into the tree is through the nuc. I was kind of wondering what would bring the queen out too. Getting her was just a bonus, I thought I would be able to take nucs off and only need to add a frame of eggs from an existing hive to the removed frames to get a new hive. The only thing I can think of is she ran out of room in the tree. After I installed it I wondered if a clear tube or non-transparent one would matter but when they only have one way into the tree it didn't seem to matter. Two free nucs a year would be great if this works, hopefully I can get two next year. I plan to leave this on the tree year round. I have another tree, an ash, that I can try this on but the entrance is about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide and nine feet in the air. The one in the pic is just over six feet off the ground. The higher one may be too hard to deal with. Give it a shot if you have a candidate tree, I don't think it would work on a house as people usually don't want to keep providing a home for bees. haha.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Tree Trap-Out - Caught the Queen

    Yeah, I guess it is a nice passive way to get free bees. I just don't see it as nearly as rewarding as just making splits and raising your own queens. But from a hobbyist standpoint, if time is not an issue, I like the idea. Yeah I don't think homeowners would go for it. As is, I did my first cutout on Friday, and have yet to get back and pick up the bees. Hoping for tonight.

    Have you had any experience with actually cutting bees out of tree, when a tree is to be removed anyway? I've got a possible job lined up, but I'm not sure how to go about it. I'd like to be able to cut out the section that has the bees in it, cutting above and below, and then setting the whole chunk down to the ground, where it can be split open and recovered. How do you find the top and bottom extent of the hive?
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    North Salem, IN, USA
    Posts
    72

    Default Re: Tree Trap-Out - Caught the Queen

    Tom,
    I saw your post about the tree cutout. I have never done one of these but my uncle did something like you were describing, cutting above and below the cavity. He used a long drill bit to find the top and bottom just like you describe. He moved the section to his house and attached a cone to the entrance like you would a trap out and removed the bees that way rather than cutting them out. If the cavity is small, I have seen two different people take the section of trunk and cut the cavity open exposing the top and just adding a deep with an entrance hole over the tree cavity. It looks like a stump with a hive on top. They closed off the other entrances and the bees eventually made their way into the deep because they were using the deep as an entrance/exit. I thought that was kind of neat trick but have never done it myself.

    If the tree can stay on the property, I would just do a trap out but it takes forever. Plug the holes with foam or steel wool after the bees are gone. If you don't a swarm will find the abandoned hive and move in again the next year. I had this happen to me at the same house two years in a row. Plugging leaks is no fun and one always gets overlooked, at least by people, bees don't seem to have any trouble finding them.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,601

    Default Re: Tree Trap-Out - Caught the Queen

    bamindy.... Congradulations you have just reinvented the wheel. Use the search engine above and search Kelly Swarm Harvester I started using this method about 30 years ago. In your case the queen likely moved out to get more room. You can make her come out into the trap if you want to.

    Send me an e-mail cchoganjr@scrtc.com and I will send you all the literature on this system which you figured out (including photos of traps in progress). The literature will explain how you can get 3-5 starts each year from a good tree, ( I have taken as many as 9 starts, but 3-5 are more common.). You can harvest the queen if you want to, and let the tree make a new one. (CAUTION) only do this in early Spring, when there is a good flow on. Yes it is a common system for trapping bees and not eliminating the feral colony.

    The system will work great on a house, only problem is sealing all entrances, and the reduced possibility of getting the queen, but it is still possible

    I would not leave it on the tree year around. In winter the bees will cluster in the tree, leaving the trap unprotected. Just remove the trap, leave the transition in the tree, then next Spring reinstall the trap.
    To take starts, just remove the frames of bees, leave the trap in place.

    cchoganjr

  7. #7

    Default Re: Tree Trap-Out - Caught the Queen

    I've had others tell me to do the same thing with the deep body on the stump, but I don't really want to have to wait that long. Plus I'd like to recover some honey if they have it! I don't really have space in my suburban yard to just have the tree stump sit there. The guy is in somewhat of a hurry to get the tree down, so I don't think a trap out is an option. He was going to take the tree down already, but then he discovered the bees. I need to call him back for some more details. I know he intends to piece the tree down, regardless of the bees as it is also in a urban yard and cannot be dropped. I wonder if he was going to hire a tree service, or if he was just going to rent a small crane. Maybe he'll pay me to do all the chainsaw work piecing it down, since I have the bee suit. This would be in addition to my actual bee removal work...hmm...the greedy me sees dollar signs...(rubbing chin and grinning slyly)...

    On another point, I don't think I want to let the bees migrate out and leave all the comb mess behind. That would just become a treat for pests, which I don't want to promote. I really think the best option is just to cut the tree open and remove the nest all at once. I am confident I can do it efficiently without damaging too much of the nest. The biggest trick will be actually splitting the tree open without destroying the comb. Then I wonder, when doing the cutout in this wall, the bees had the comb braced to all the sides, as well as the top, so I guess if I do cut off too much top, I'd probably just sling honey everywhere, but not necessarily destroy the entire nest. Man...just so many unknowns...
    After 20 months I'm over a 20 hives and growing. See my videos! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fVrmUsyYlRuASdX6UQk1g

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,601

    Default Re: Tree Trap-Out - Caught the Queen

    Tom.... These types of tree cutouts are routine, and after you do one or two they are easy. It will require more intensive management this time of year than in Spring, but, it can be done, and save the bees.

    Here is how I have done it for 35 years. Cut the tree above and below the entrance. Keep narrowing the cuts until you can see comb. Lay the log on its side. Observe how much wood you will need to cut into before hitting the comb. You will not hurt your chain saw. It can be washed off. You will be able to work with just a veil, as the chain saw smoke will keep the bees calm. Cut the log lengthwise, inserting the chain saw just enough to cut into the hollow. Then cut the opposite side. The two pieces will fall open like a watermelon. Carefull cut out a few pieces of comb that has brood in it, and wire or rubberband it onto a few frames and place in your deep hive body. Place the hive near where you are working. Continue to cut slabs of comb and shake the bees into your hive body. (Here is where a bee vac really comes in handy)(If you are going to be doing cutouts I suggest buying or building one) (I have had one since 2001 and I really like it, but, some people don't. Some vacs kill more bees than others.) As you shake the bees off the comb, place that comb in a large tub to be moved away from the area. Watch for the queen on the comb, and continue until you have completely removed the comb from the tree, both brood and honey. ( I am not a big fan of saving the honey for human consumption, but some people are. I prefer to take it to the bee yard and let the bees rob it out, then melt the wax down for sell.) Finish the job by taking one frame with some brood on it, and place it in another hive, and leave it behind to get the stragglers and those that are flying while you are working. Be sure to remove all comb from the area, as well as the wood where the comb came from,(that portion of the tree). Next morning retreive your 2d box and join them with your bees. If you had the queen in your original box, great, If not, most often she will go into the box you leave behind, due to the brood and her desire to save the remaining colony. If she does neither of these, she and the other bees left behind will be balled up just like a swarm in close proximity to where you did the cutout.

    Hope this has been helpful. If you have specific questions, I will be glad to try to help. Post here or e-mail me at cchoganjr@scrtc.com

    cchoganjr

  9. #9

    Default Re: Tree Trap-Out - Caught the Queen

    Ok, so that all sound just like a house cutout, except for splitting it like a watermelon

    Do you ever bore holes to find the top of the hive, or do you just wing it?

    As for the queen, my preference is to catch and cage her, and leave the box overnight to pick up stragglers. Come back the next night after all the foragers have been able to find the new box, seal it up and go. This is how I'm doing the current house cutout. I had to spray down the old hive area with Bee Quick as a bunch of the foragers were still hanging out there, lost and confused. But checking in a few hours later, no bees were anywhere near the old nest, and there was a beautiful beard on my deep hive body. I'm planning on picking them up tonight.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,601

    Default Re: Tree Trap-Out - Caught the Queen

    No, I never bore holes. You will know if you are into the comb. (comb will be on the saw bar). If so quit, and go three or four feet (above or below) and start a new cut.

    I don't normally take too much time searching for the queen. And I only catch or cage a queen if absolutely necessary. If I take her away, great. If not, most often she will go in the leave behind box. (If you remove all the wood and comb, the leave behind box is the best place for her to go, and there is a frame of brood in it.) A few times I have found her and a ball nearby. Then join them with the others.

    Good work. You will find the tree is much easier than a house.

    cchoganjr

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