Capturing Wild Bees Question
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA- USA
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    Default Capturing Wild Bees Question

    Hi, and thanks for looking over my question.

    Yesterday evening I came across a tree that had been cut down in a park and there was a 'Bee Warning' sign posted and nobody around. I looked around a bit and I found the hive. Seeing that I'm brand new and sort of in the market for bees, I was pretty excited.

    I could clearly see comb running up the center of the trunk and lots of active bees. Sadly I still don't have my hive box fully prepared, so there wasn't much I could do at that time. But this might have been my plan and I was hoping if somebody can tell me if this would have worked. (Note: I would not have been able to leave a box over night)

    I thought I could have driven the 1.5 miles back home and grabbed my bee suit, smoker and a 5-gal bucket. I thought I'd return to the hive just before sunset, give a little smoke and very slowly and gently begin loading the comb and bees into the bucket, looking for the queen. I'd try and grab most of what I can see and reach, then load in all into the bucket and seal it and quickly make the five minute drive back home.

    Once at home I'd remove several frames from my own hive box, then shake the bees from the bucket in the hive, replace the frames and close things up. I'd then look for the queen or signs of the queen in a day or so. I'd also include a feeder.

    I'll be using wax foundation frames, so I don't think there would be any way for me to try and suspend the recovered comb inside the frames (like I see people do with rubber bands) but I don't know. Not sure if I could use that or not. Perhaps smear some over my own wax foundations?

    My concerns are that if I failed to grab the queen, then the bees will just leave ASAP since this was never their home. And if not, can somebody give me an idea of how long I have to get a queen or what I need to do to keep them in my hive until then. I understand they bees will stay queen-less for as long as 6-8 weeks, but would that still be the case in this situation?

    I know this is not a preferred method by any means, but is it somewhat sound, or am I missing something obvious?


    Thanks.
    b1rd
    Backyard Hobbyist- Still in the early learning stage, with bees on order for 3/2020.
    (San Diego Ca.- Zone 10a)

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Otsego County, NY, USA
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    What you are proposing is kind of a baptism by fire. This is a lot of work for a pro, for a newb it could get to a very uncomfortable level fast. You would be tying brood comb into frames, and it's the brood that will inspire the bees to stay. Finding the queen in this mess sounds easy enough but... Back when I was younger and dumber I did cut outs for a fee, I found the queen once and it was just luck that I did.

    That being said I do think that all beekeepers should do a bee removal at least once. That way the next time you get asked to do one, instead of saying no, you can say hell no!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
    Posts
    1,379

    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    Lets start with permission , I know its a park, but someone may already have plans for the bees, and why don't you have your boxes prepared, it's getting close to the end of the season? (maybe not in CA though) I personally think your bucket ideal is not great, because the comb and bees will most likely start rubbing against each other, smashing bees and faces of the comb/brood. Plus there will be some bees who will cluster in the cavity of the tree that you may not be able to reach/get to without a bee vacuum. Why not just take the wax foundation out of the frames and rubber band the comb in? All of this is hypothetical though until you get permission. I wouldn't touch it until then..
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat ;)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    San Diego, CA- USA
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    38

    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    Thanks for the replies.

    This was a hypothetical only, as I realize it's a city park, with laws, the bees might be spoken for, etc.. And as mentioned, I don't have even my hive box prepared, so there was nothing I could have done either way. It was more about my method and if it would work, and what I would need to improve it, but it sounds like a poor way of getting bees anyhow.

    Being new, I sort of put it along the same lines as catching a swarm as far as finding free bees in the wild, but I also realize the bees that swarm, and the bees that are torn from their homes, are two different things.


    Thanks again,
    b1rd.
    Backyard Hobbyist- Still in the early learning stage, with bees on order for 3/2020.
    (San Diego Ca.- Zone 10a)

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    2,115

    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    You want to go through the hassle of rubber banding the brood comb. As has been said, it will lock them into the hive and also keep a supply of new bees until the queen (if you caught her or buy one) is up and running. J

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    San Diego, CA- USA
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    38

    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    You want to go through the hassle of rubber banding the brood comb. As has been said, it will lock them into the hive and also keep a supply of new bees until the queen (if you caught her or buy one) is up and running.
    That's sort of what I was wondering about, thanks.

    A quick follow up question if I can:

    Can I assume that bees need a reason to remain at a new hive, such as brood or a queen?

    What would happen if I were to try and transfer a cluster of bees only (no comb at all) from a wild hive into my own box, with just empty wax foundation/frames, and I missed the queen? Can I expect all of the bees to leave, or would there be a chance to buy a new queen and see if she's accepted? Again, this is with none of the comb, but with a feeder.

    (Not my intentions, just curious)

    b1rd
    Backyard Hobbyist- Still in the early learning stage, with bees on order for 3/2020.
    (San Diego Ca.- Zone 10a)

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    I am by no means a great swarm catcher, but if you read the swarm forum you will see that it is hard to keep them from leaving without brood and a queen. J

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Sedgwick Co. KS
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    1,124

    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    Quote Originally Posted by b1rd View Post
    That's sort of what I was wondering about, thanks.

    A quick follow up question if I can:

    Can I assume that bees need a reason to remain at a new hive, such as brood or a queen?

    What would happen if I were to try and transfer a cluster of bees only (no comb at all) from a wild hive into my own box, with just empty wax foundation/frames, and I missed the queen? Can I expect all of the bees to leave, or would there be a chance to buy a new queen and see if she's accepted? Again, this is with none of the comb, but with a feeder.

    (Not my intentions, just curious)

    b1rd
    ^^^That's like starting with a package of bees, but it's too late for this season....at least it is here.

    I think it would be a good idea to have & keep a hive of bees and see what they need before doing a cutout like you're dreaming about.

    When I first started (I kept three hive for a year). Then a storm downed a tree with a colony that I tried to save. Everything that could go wrong did, and it ended up being a total waste of time.....lost the the comb, bees and my time. It's good to have some experience with bees before trying to save the world. My 2 cents......

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    San Diego, CA- USA
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    38

    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    Thanks again for the replies.

    I do have my name on a list for 2020 bees with a person from our local Farmer's Market, and he said I'm looking at March. He'll even deliver and help install them if needed. The plan is to begin with a nuc of local bees in one small hive.

    I also have a couple of bee keeping classes coming up next month, and I did join the San Diego Bee Keeping Society to tap into their resources as well. I'm also currently reading Bee Keeping For Dummies 2nd Addition-Free online, and currently watching Honey Bees and Beekeeping 1.1: A Year in the Life of an Apiary. I've also paid for a short online bee keeping class and have several bee keeping sites bookmarked that I frequently peruse.

    So, I am trying to learn as much as possible and get more prepared before I get bees, but I still have questions that I sometimes can't find online, so thanks to this forum I can get some of the answers.


    Thanks again,
    b1rd
    but if you read the swarm forum you will see that it is hard to keep them from leaving without brood and a queen. J
    Never knew about this section. I've been stuck in the 101 section, thanks.
    Last edited by b1rd; 08-14-2019 at 06:09 PM. Reason: Additional
    Backyard Hobbyist- Still in the early learning stage, with bees on order for 3/2020.
    (San Diego Ca.- Zone 10a)

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Sedgwick Co. KS
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    1,124

    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    b1rd, after I re read my post, I thought I sounded critical. I didn't mean to, but that's what it sounded like.

    Your free to start keeping bees any way you see fit, and, by the way, it sounds like you're on the right path. My only suggestion is to start with more than one colony....that was recommended to me and very beneficial. Good luck.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    San Diego, CA- USA
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    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    ...I thought I sounded critical. I didn't mean to,...
    Not at all. I came looking for some different opinions / suggestions.

    I also know that some people will get in over their heads too fast, which is what I want to avoid, so I appreciated the input and I found it useful.


    All the best~
    b1rd
    Backyard Hobbyist- Still in the early learning stage, with bees on order for 3/2020.
    (San Diego Ca.- Zone 10a)

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Wise county,Texas
    Posts
    287

    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    I'll add my cheap 2 cents.

    I think you would be totally bummed when you got home and found all that comb and bees trapped in honey goo in that bucket.
    The point of empty frames to me is having an orderly place to band brood comb, and maintaining some room for attached bees. Comb with stores I put in a bucket, but good brood gets stuck in an empty frame.
    Hard enough getting a hive like that back to the house jostling around and just banded. (Make sure you place comb orientated the same was as they where in the hive, trim what you need too as the cells are angled)

    I did a cut out in a very large downed mesquite log a2 years ago, took about 2 hrs and a lot of chainsawing and crossed fingers. I hoped the queen would be near the heavier brood comb and ended up being right. Right at dark I noticed a clump of bees on a side wall and was able to get the queen. She will hide, but in short time she will usually attract a horde of bees after the hive has been torn up at least from what I have observed.

    Reason I think you would want the queen so bad from that cutout, is the proximity to the downed tree, without the queen, most of the field bees will make the 1.5 mile trek back to the tree, brood should anchor the nurse bees and ones that haven't been to flight yet, but I'd want the queen and even yet, you will loose some field bees unless you move the hive a further distance for a week or two.

    The cut out will be a chore already, taking a bucket full of comb and bees home and you will likely not like that chore either. If you can take home a box with banded frames, you will like that far better.
    “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic”

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    San Diego, CA- USA
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    Default Re: Capturing Wild Bees Question

    ...most of the field bees will make the 1.5 mile trek back to the tree, brood should anchor the nurse bees and ones that haven't been to flight yet, but I'd want the queen and even yet, you will loose some field bees unless you move the hive a further distance for a week or two.
    Yet another thing that I would have totally over looked, and I am actually aware of the distances bees travel. It sounds like they'd simply go back home absent any reason to stay. I was also curious about the "goo" and I even commented to my wife about that when I was telling her my thoughts. I wondered if they might just blast out of there the moment I opened the top to the bucket.

    I think it's best that I wait a while and learn a bit more, so maybe just waiting unto the 2020 season is the smarter way. But at the same time it's sort of like telling a child to wait seven months for Christmas morning. It won't come soon enough-

    Thanks again.

    b1rd
    Backyard Hobbyist- Still in the early learning stage, with bees on order for 3/2020.
    (San Diego Ca.- Zone 10a)

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