Hi everyone I'm a Meliponist from the NT and I thought I'd share photos of a hive box I set up on a stingless bee nest located in a brick wall and afew pictures after the setup showing the bees exploring the box hive
I did have more pictures of the bees doing some construction but I've lost them due to my camera breaking I plan to take more photos soon tho to show what they've done so far but till then enjoy these photos
We have lots of different species of stingless bees here in Brazil, and many works are being done to develop techniques to keep and manage them. But as far as I know, nobody here is applying or even studying this "slow pace" method to transfer or divide the colonies, and it can be very interesting to reduce the stress and vulnerability of the colony after the process. Many new colonies are lost due to the "violence" of traditional transfer/division methods, mainly due to subsequent invasion by parasites (phorids) attracted by the smell of honey spilled inside the box and allowed to enter due to the lack of previous sealing with propolis, a work only the bees themselves can do properly.
This method allows the bees to split the natural way and is a lot safer for the bees and in my experience it works very well but the time it takes can vary, sometimes it happens in a matter of weeks others it may take months or even fail outright.
I've found you can increase the success rate and reduce the time it takes the bees to build by putting in propolis and wire at least with my species as they love to build their brood in between the small squares.
Another option is to place some brood from another hive into the empty box the bees adopt the brood and it can speed things up a lot but I prefer save it as my last option.
In Brazil the standard procedure is the "hard split", taking some brood combs and honey pots from one or more existing colonies and placing them in another box, along with some worker bees. A new queen show up by herself later.
As I mentioned, this method can cause serious troubles to both old and new colonies, mainly due to phorids. In some cases, like mine, the hive is placed alone in a harsh environment (an apartment balcony near down town) and I also guess it will be rather dificult for a new princess bee to find her way back to the hive in case the old queen dies.
So, a "soft split" like youre doing can smooth things out and make it easier and safer for the bees during colony division. But I'm curious about how and mainly when to finally separate the two boxes: Will another queen enter the new box while it is still conected to the old one? And what about the workers, will they follow the moved box or all them will come back to the original colony position after splitting?
I can't say for sure with your species till I've looked more into them but for my species I leave the hives fully connected until the new queen has just moved in and then I immediately partly disconnect the hives by removing a cover I have over a hole drilled in the pipe allowing the worker bees to choose if they enter the new hive box or not.
If I don't remove the cover and the hives stay completely connected the old hive will kill the new but by giving them a choice by introducing a new exit the bees continue to help build the new hive allowing me to fully disconnect them later once the new hive is strong enough to survive on their own.
After you disconnect the new hive you either slowly move it's location until you reach the desired place for your new hive or you cover it up at night and move it far away for a few weeks before moving it to the intended area.
Just writing to let everyone know I've not forgotten this post and I'll be adding more photos.
I've not been adding any photos lately as not much progress had happend since my last post, but the wait is over and the bees have started storing resin and even made their first honey pot inside the hive.
I'll be adding photos up soon likely in the next week to two weeks I hope you all find its worth the wait.
Here's some photos of some of the small changes inside my hive box it's still in early stages.
The first photo is of the resin storage at the back of the hive while the second is of the front showing the entrance tunnel and some small honey pots you can just see through the wire, the last photo is an update on the hole in the back of the hive that's connected to the pipe leading to the wall.