assessing for queenright "feral" colony
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Dayton, OH USA
    Posts
    328

    Wink assessing for queenright "feral" colony

    A couple of weeks ago a friend called who had taken down a tree which had bees living in it. He wanted to know if I wanted to try to save them. Of course I do! So the plan I carried out was to cut the trunk down as small as we could afford to leaving the colony size inside as intact as possible. We ended up with about a 5' trunk which weighed probably 400 pounds. I brought the trunk home and stood it up in my yard. The bees are still there and quite active. My plan is to us it to attempt to entice the queen out once or twice a year ala Cleo Hogan style while letting them continue to hopefully survive on their own. My friend says he's been watching them for a few years now and has seen more than a couple of swarms issue from it.

    My question is: Without being able to get into the hive like we do our managed ones, are there any tricks to assessing the hive to be queenright? I generally would trust the pollen-coming-in rule whereby if you see pollen coming in, you have brood being raised. Obviously that's not 100% for queenright guessing. They could bring in pollen for a laying worker. Anybody have any suggestions?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Bergen County, NJ
    Posts
    904

    Default Re: assessing for queenright "feral" colony

    Unless you are in a hurry, watch them for about 40 days. If they are gone by then, you know what happened (laying worker or failed requeening).

    If your long term plan is to capture swarms off that colony, set some swarm lures up. Other option is assess where the cavity is, carefully "carve" a square block off the tree, like you would a pumpkin. You open the block to access brood comb when you need and use that comb to raise queens.

    Later option is more complicated, for me.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Landing, NJ, USA
    Posts
    1,026

    Default Re: assessing for queenright "feral" colony

    Hogan method tries to convince the bees that you have added a room to their hive. Then after guards have been posted at the new entrance, adds a frame of brood and eggs. Hopefully the queen then comes out to investigate the new brood scent and lays in empty cells on that frame or in other comb that the bees have built. When you see brood or eggs that you didn't put there the queen's presence is proven. If you then wait long enough so that brood or eggs you have installed is too old to make a queen and then remove the brood into a queenless nuc, perhaps with reenforcements from other hives, and the bees start queen cells from eggs that could only have been layed by the queen from the tree, then you have a daughter queen with very little effect on the tree hive. Removal of bees from the tree this way may reduce its need to swarm.

    There should be no one way cone in the added box while doing this. The idea is to get the bees using the box as part of their hive and then take starts from it.

    I hope I haven't mangled Cleo's method too badly.
    Bill

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Dayton, OH USA
    Posts
    328

    Default Re: assessing for queenright "feral" colony

    Quote Originally Posted by whiskers View Post
    Hogan method tries to convince the bees that you have added a room to their hive. Then after guards have been posted at the new entrance, adds a frame of brood and eggs. Hopefully the queen then comes out to investigate the new brood scent and lays in empty cells on that frame or in other comb that the bees have built. When you see brood or eggs that you didn't put there the queen's presence is proven. If you then wait long enough so that brood or eggs you have installed is too old to make a queen and then remove the brood into a queenless nuc, perhaps with reenforcements from other hives, and the bees start queen cells from eggs that could only have been layed by the queen from the tree, then you have a daughter queen with very little effect on the tree hive. Removal of bees from the tree this way may reduce its need to swarm.

    There should be no one way cone in the added box while doing this. The idea is to get the bees using the box as part of their hive and then take starts from it.

    I hope I haven't mangled Cleo's method too badly.
    Bill
    That's the basics of my plan. We trimmed down the tree from the top to where the comb started. I ended up with about a 4" hole at the top of the trunk where the cavity in the tree is. I capped the top with a section of cut firewood log big enough to completely cap it. My plan is to set a bottomless nuc on top of the hole when I'm ready with a frame of brood/eggs to attempt to entice the queen up into it like you said. Thanks for the replies.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    2,292

    Default Re: assessing for queenright "feral" colony

    Great job Whiskers.

    choganjr

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    3,388

    Default Re: assessing for queenright "feral" colony

    In Indiana you would need to do a proper trapout -- it's illegal here to maintain hives without removable frames (for control of foul brood).

    The only difference would be to add a one-way cone when the queen has come out, and let the hive in the log dwindle away. Or do a cutout.

    Whatever you do, please to NOT do what the beekeeper did on the abandoned trap out I got a couple weeks ago -- put a one way cone in an empty medium above a deep partially filled with plastic foundation. I ended up with a starving hive with all the comb built crazy on the top cover (no inner cover, of course) and absolutely nothing built on the plastic foundation. I saved it by loading in some wet sugar, but still have to do a cutout next week to get them into a proper hive. Use frames, and fill the boxes!

    Peter

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