Small wild Hive getting smaller
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Lawrenceburg,TN
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    Default Small wild Hive getting smaller

    So the first week of August I discovered a small beehive on our property while mowing. We went out and got some equipment and ordered some. We checked on them today and they seem to be half as big as it was. We plan on capturing them this monday. So 1 - why the size reduction? And 2 - help!!! This is my first attempt at beekeeping, it's a really small hive, and I'm willing to do whatever to get them through the winter.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Cullman, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    Greetings Farmer Brown, welcome to Beesource
    Tell us a little more about these bees. Currently living in a tree? Wall? hanging on a limb?
    What equipment do you have? Do you know anyone that keeps bees? photos?
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Lawrenceburg,TN
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    They are on a small tree about 8in off the ground. I thought it was a swarm bearding at first because it's a horrible spot but two weeks later they are still there.

    As far as equipment, I have a 10 frame medium, screen bottom board, give stand, top feeder, and cover. Plus smoker, brush veil, etc.

    I don't know anyone who keeps bees so I don't really know who to ask. I talked to the Amish man who made my hive and he just kinda laughed and said good luck.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    interesting, and i commend you for trying to help this colony. it may take some luck but it's possible you can do something with them.

    if they have been there for a couple of weeks, chances are they have started drawing some comb, can you see any comb?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Lawrenceburg,TN
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    14

    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    I have seen a little as the bees have moved around. From what I've read, I need to cut out any existing comb and tie it to one of the foundationless frames.

  7. #6
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    correct. that's a good sign seeing that comb. it means they might have a laying queen. one concern with that colony is that it may be a late season swarm that left when an old failing queen got booted out.

    if there is comb, and especially if there is brood in that comb, they might have a chance.

    i've never done it, but have heard that rubber bands are good for securing those combs to a foundationless frame.

    the cells in the comb slant at an upward angle, so it's important that you put them into the foundationless frames oriented the same way you cut them off of the tree.

    after moving them to the hive, consider leaving it right there at the tree for a few days before moving it home.

    we have a couple of months of good weather left, and the fall blooms are just starting in our area. providing syrup will help them get those other new frames drawn out.

    if they fill up your medium i think there's a good chance they can overwinter, especially if the queen holds up. you might have to put some sugar on top of the frames later in the winter if they run out of stores. for that it would be helpful to have another empty medium to make room for the sugar.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Lawrenceburg,TN
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    Firstly, thank you so much for the help!

    I have a top feeder so I plan on feeding syrup. Should I put the queen (if I can find her) in a queen clip for a day or two or just let her do her thing?

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Cullman, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    * please be warned, I am suggesting that you do things that I have not done, & have no personal experience with!*

    I think in this case, I would look at the "Cleo C Hogan " trap out technique.
    It sounds like it would be relatively easy to "tent" around the tree, over the bees, & sort of force them to pass through your box to get in & out of the hole in the tree. If the connection to the tree is good, a tent/skirt should not be needed, but when in doubt, go for over kill! Tent/Skirt should not admit light, so the bees will not get drawn to the sun before they go through the hive. I am assuming there is a hole, even though you said "on" the tree, not "in" the tree. ( the decreasing number of visible bees may be due to more moving inside the tree, or predation by bee eating varmints (???) If I were using the hogan trap out, after letting them pass through the box a day or two,, I would add a queen excluder gate across the entrance of the hive to make sure the queen did not abscond, then close them in with smaller screen wire. If you plan to leave the hive in place, omit the smaller screen wire until you are ready to move. After a couple of days, remove the queen excluder screen, so the drones can get out to take care of hygene.
    I would consider drilling a hole & puffing some "bee chaser" type chemical /smoke into the back of the cavity to encourage all the bees , including the queen, to evacuate into the hive.

    If the bees are truly "on " the tree, I would make a "dustpan" out of cardboard, notched to go around the tree under the cluster, use the bee brush to brush the bees off the tree into the dust pan, & into the hive. you will have quite a few bees flying, so be sure that the hive entrance is open , & wait at least until late evening, or early the next morning before moving. When you are _sure_the queen is inside, put your queen excluder gate on for a couple of days.
    I would feed the bees with sugar water ,from a jar with a tiny hole in it through the lid, through a hole in the lid. I have heard of folks with frame feeders putting a screened inner cover on the hive, so they can refill the frame feeder w/o suiting up, just pour syrup through the screen.
    ( I don't have a frame feeder, so I don't do it that way.)
    Also, the rubber( file folder) bands work well to keep the combs in the frames, if the pieces are big enough.

    Not having seen this situation for my self, all of my comments may be inappropriate for your situation. or spot on.

    All of these "added details" tend to make it more complicated than it really is, but if you miss some of the details, you learn about bee keeping! Keep it as simple as possible, & Good Luck! .... CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  10. #9
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    Quote Originally Posted by Farmerbrown View Post
    Should I put the queen (if I can find her) in a queen clip for a day or two or just let her do her thing?
    tech, i was getting the impression that this colony is on the outside of the tree.

    farmerbrown, you are very welcome. if that colony is indeed out in the weather like that it has no chance to survive the winter if left there.

    removing it will be a fairly ambitious undertaking for your first experience with bees. it's doable but don't expect it to be a piece of cake.

    if there is a queen she will be on one of those combs, probably toward the middle. the colony will likely turn defensive after you cut the first comb away and expose honey, so expect the process to be somewhat chaotic.

    if you are able to locate the queen, and if you can get her safely into a clip, my thinking is that would be a good place for her to be while you are cutting and fitting the comb into the foundationless frames. go ahead and release her before you close the hive up.

    letting it sit in the same spot for awhile, a week perhaps, will give the bees time to secure the cut out comb to the foundationless frames with new wax.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Lawrenceburg,TN
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    Yes, they are actually on the tree. The tree is maybe 3in around. I have no idea why they chose it.

    For the capture, we were planning on the sugar water spray, sheet, cardboard box method lol.

    Squarepeg, I will leave them there for a week or so. I like the idea of using the queen excluder.

    My brilliant wife had a thought last night. If it was an inefficient or old queen swarm, maybe the hive superceeded her and split again. To explain the sudden loss of so many bees. It has been almost three weeks since I found them and I have no idea how long they were there before.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Baker, FL
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    Farmerbrown, if you want those bees, you better get them sooner than later. We had a swarm on a pine tree limb about a year ago, they were there for about two weeks while the foragers were out scouting for a new home. When the scouts found a new home, they were gone, like it never happened.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Dickson TN
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    Try calling the Columbia Area Beekeepers Association they might give you some help with it. I've removed bees many times in your area they seem to have a tendency to be a bit feisty some have been fairly calm.

  14. #13
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    Aug 2016
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    Lawrenceburg,TN
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    Well, we got most of them today. Pretty sure we got the queen on the first try because the workers were fanning on the box lid we caught them in. I hope we got her at least. There was a piece of comb that would fit across my wife's fingers, all empty.

    We got them into our hive, filled the top feeder and are praying that they will be there in the morning. Our "bee yard" is about 20 feet from their original location so I hope the stragglers will figure out how to get to the new house. We will see tomorrow I guess.

    Did I mention that 12 days ago I had my AGO replaced and cartlidge on both sides of my knee shaved?

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    ACL not AGO

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    way to go fb, fingers crossed for you!

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    Thanks squarepeg. Ours are crossed as well.'

  18. #17
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    Lawrenceburg,TN
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    Well, we have left the hive alone for now. We are going to check it on monday. I've seen bees going in and out of it. I've also seen a wasp go in as well. There was only a couple hundred bees when we caught them so I don't think they will overwinter.
    I just have to say though that catching that small colony may have been the bass akwards way to start beekeeping, it has really boosted my confidence. I am in serious need of a mentor though. I'm pretty much an "internet trained" beek. What I do like about learning from the net though is I didn't get one way to do things or the only way to do things. I got a thousand to play with and see what works for me. I love how beaks are willing to help Each other and give advice to newbies like myself.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Lamar Co. Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    I've following your story, good luck and keep giving updates. I've gotten small, Fall swarms through Winter in two 5 frame medium nuc boxes so it can be done. Pour the feed to them, they should build more comb in preparation for Winter.
    "Sometimes the best action, with bees, is no action at all."

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Lawrenceburg,TN
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    ARGH!!! So, we went into the hive this afternoon. I could tell on the approach something wasnt right due to the pitch of the buzz coming from the hive (not bad for a newbie with 0 experience huh?) Our small hive is even smaller again. There were robber bees fighting our bees. Maybe 25 or so dead bees on the screen bottom and a dead wasp. I didn't see the queen anywhere. Im assuming shes back on the original spot on tree because there was a small cluster there.

    They havnt been drawing any comb or attached the comb we found. The feeder was bone dry so I really don't know why they were defending a hive so fiercely with nothing to protect. Bees have egos maybe?

    Anyways, my heart is broken. I added a little sugar syrup to the feeder to reward the brave soilders but I am confused as to why the brawl over nothing? Again any help or insight would be appreciated!

  21. #20
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    Jul 2016
    Location
    Dayton, TN
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    Default Re: Small wild Hive getting smaller

    Where did the robbers come from? Do you have other hives? I am also unclear as whether or not you left the hive in the location of the original tree or moved to your yard as soon as you caught them. I would think your only hope would be to try locate the queen on the tree and put her back in the hive with as many bees as possible and put the hive at the original tree the with entrance as close the where they keep clustering. Reduce the entrance to as small as possible, size of 1 or 2 bees, and feed. You can even add a robber screen. Although if you don't have other hives I can't imagine where the robbers are coming from.

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