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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Salem, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    56

    Default Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Hi all from Southern Indiana. I too am wanting to learn how to keep bees and hope to get some good advice here.

    Unlike others without bees, I have at least four feral hives on my farm--all in dead and rotting poplar trees.
    One tree is on the ground now. It fell with the entry hole straight up and I'm worried moisture and other threats will kill the hive this winter.

    The log is about 16 inches diameter and I was thinking about cutting off the hive portion and inserting it into a wooden box of some type and storing in the barn for winter. Maybe even feed them. Any ideas what I should do? When is the best time to do a cut out with the most success? Also should I use a top bar or regular hive? Should I just let nature take its course and wait till spring and hope for the best?

    Thanks alot, John.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,349

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by bmat555 View Post
    It fell with the entry hole straight up and I'm worried moisture and other threats will kill the hive this winter.
    I'd fabricate a simple roof to keep rain/snow from getting into the (now vertical) knothole, but otherwise leave them alone until spring.

    Also, waiting til spring gives you lots of time to evaluate all the different responses you may get to this question:

    Quote Originally Posted by bmat555 View Post
    Also should I use a top bar or regular hive?



    If you don't get hundreds of responses to that issue, you can read this thread on the same subject, currently ongoing in the Equipment forum:
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ome-bee-keeper
    Its currently got 113 responses!
    Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 10-19-2012 at 12:15 PM.
    Graham
    --- Practical reality trumps philosophy!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    I'd fabricate a simple roof to keep rain/snow from getting into the (now vertical) knothole, but otherwise leave them alone until spring.
    Ditto that
    Spend the winter researching "trap outs" on this excellent site
    Good Luck, Mike
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  4. #4

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by mike haney View Post
    Ditto that
    Spend the winter researching "trap outs" on this excellent site
    Good Luck, Mike
    I'm guessing the two replies above are from more experienced keeps than me, but here's my 2c. I'd be inclined to stuff a rag in the entrance and cut a 4-5' section, and stand 'er up, and secure to a tree or post, etc. Maybe put a section of plywood on top for rain shield. If, when cutting, you start to see comb/honey (cut slowly and drive saw tip in first), stop and pack the cut with rag or other material and cut lower (or higher if above the hole). I think the hive in its normal position would be preferable, both for survivorship through winter, and the potential for doing a cut out later, - unless it has been downed for a long time. If the comb is all laying on its side, I don't know what the girls will do with it, but it probably won't be easier to cut out and hang in frames next year if you go that route.

    With all these feral hives, you may want to invest in (or make) some swarm traps or nuc boxes,get some lemongrass oil, (maybe some wax or comb from an old tree cavity - since it seems you are loaded with them) and get some hive equipment on hand. If you have 4 known hives on your property you must be in an area with a lot of keeps, or one big keeper. Have you seen swarms in the past? I haven't seen a feral hive (except swarm list calls and a hive that had been abandoned for ~ 10 yr and was about to dissolve) around me in 20 years. You might buy a package or a nuc in the spring, just in case, but I'd be inclined to put the $ into swarm traps and put 'em all over.

    Good luck, and be careful - you might get hooked.
    Brian

    Brian

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    7,001

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Welcome John. Every time you move it is a possibility the comb is dislodged and the queen killed. I would just shelter the entrance as suggested and wait until spring. A downed tree is a cut-out so figure out how you will cut or split the tree lengthwise after cutting above and below the cavity next spring. Langstroth is easier than top bar in my experience, but the bees do not care. You need to be comfortable inspecting either on a regular basis to manage the hive.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,646

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    yep, give 'em a roof and spend the winter reading up and preparing your equipment.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
    Posts
    1,115

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by bmat555 View Post
    Unlike others without bees, I have at least four feral hives on my farm

    .
    If they have survived for several years in the same trees, consider yourself lucky: they are of treatment free stock. Take advantage of them.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    I have a hive in a tree waiting for Spring. I cut it down and moved it, then I will use my Hogan Swarm Harvester on it for making starts. When I am done, I will probably just leave it in the woods near my place to throw swarms.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    St. Petersburg, fl, USA
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Americas bee keep makes a very good point. When ever you jossle or change orientation on a hive you will dislodge comb. Its very easy to kill the queen. Wait till spring and if the hive survives they will reorient the comb. Then when you do your cut out you stand a better chance of success. We have done a number of cut outs but have only attempted two trees. Neither one successful. You need to be able to access the comb with out wrecking it so you can move it into frames. Spend the winter researching ways to open hollow trees, build you hive and equipment and get a veil and a smoker, Then come spring if the fallen tree hive survived try it. If not you can try the others. good luck

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Spend yourself the $70 or 80 dollars they cost and by a Hogan Swarm Harvester from Walter Kelley, or better yet build one. They are indispensable for bee trees. It is a special sort of trap hive that is built so the feral queen will actually enter and lay if done right. Just bait it with a comb of brood. Then you steal starts out of it and make new hives as it progresses. If you want to completely eliminate the hive in the tree, you close the little door and they cannot re-enter, turning into a standard trap out.

    Cutting out a hive from a tree is seriously hard and most don't survive the process. Better to leave them in place and catch swarms or use the trap I described.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Louisville Kentucky USA
    Posts
    458

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Welcome to the forum. I am across the river over in Valley Station and I have fooled with a lot of bee trees/feral hives over the last few years. Your best bet is to stand the tree up the way it was when it was standing.If you cut it down so its easier to handle, try not to cut too close to the hive cavity. Once its set up just secure it so it wont fall over and throw a piece of plywood or something on top so no rain goes into the log. Take them out in the spring. You can PM me and I will give you my cell number and I would be happy to help you get them into hives in the spring. If you want to learn more about beekeeping there is a good group called the Spring Valley beekeepers over in Lanesville that meets once a month. Good luck.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,033

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Hello and Welcome!

    Rader Sidetrack & others have already given you good advice about keeping them in the tree during winter. In the meantime, you can learn about beekeeping. It's short notice, but Indiana State Beekeepers have a beginner's class this Saturday (10/27) just west of Indy:
    http://www.hoosierbuzz.com/
    If you can't make that, there are some local bee clubs not far from you. There's a Southeastern Indiana beekeepers club:
    http://www.indianahoney.org/ and another club in Bedford. I don't think the Bedford club has a website yet, but you can search for "Bedford Beekeepers" on Facebook for more info.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Salem, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Thanks for all the good info. I may try to cut the log off and stand it up.
    So use these trees as trap outs? Will I need to buy queens if I do that? Thanks, John

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Platteville, WI
    Posts
    134

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    I'd build a roof/cover for the downed hive. I also think I would get standard Langstroth equipment. I'd try to capture bees, if you have that many feral hives. You, sir are one lucky beekeeper. I'd capture and produce from those bees using lemongrass oil. If the bees in the downed tree do not survive, I'd cut into the log and use the natural comb that was drawn. Sounds like you are in a great spot to have happy, healthy bees for a long time. Best wishes, Sir.
    "Life will find a way - it always finds a way." -Jurassic Park (MOVIE/BOOK)
    USDA Zone 5a

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Platteville, WI
    Posts
    134

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    You won't need to buy queens if you do that. If you don't capture the queen(s), then you wont capture much of anything. The bees follow the queen.
    "Life will find a way - it always finds a way." -Jurassic Park (MOVIE/BOOK)
    USDA Zone 5a

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,349

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by bmat555 View Post
    So use these trees as trap outs? Will I need to buy queens if I do that? Thanks, John
    If you use the Hogan Trap method you may not have to buy queens. Send a PM (private message, accessible through the menu at the top of this page) to Beesource member "Cleo C. Hogan Jr", include your email address, and ask for a copy of his Hogan Trap document.

    You can also search the forum for comments from folks using this technique.
    Graham
    --- Practical reality trumps philosophy!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Salem, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: Farmboy looking to save hives.

    PA220320.jpg
    This is a picture of the downed tree. I went to inspect it yesterday and the bees are really active. It looks like the hive may be open in the picture to the right where the tree broke as it fell. I was right on top of them and did not get stung or even buzzed. I don't see any comb or honey running out of the hive so I assume it to be OK. The tree has been down about 8 weeks now so maybe they have repaired any damage.

    PA220324.jpg

    This is a pic of a huge hive in a polar tree about 6 feet off the ground. Bees seem docile enough as I have never been stung around the hive. I guess this tree will swarm this spring and I can catch some of them at that time.

    PA080316.jpg
    This is a newly dug one acre plus pond that I intend to set my bees next to. Will that location work?

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