Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact
Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Argyle, TX, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    This is a long post. I just wanted to share our first experience as newbie beekeepers trying to capture a hive. No doubt we made mistakes and were naive in some of our assumptions. We did the best we could based on our situation and what we had learned over a short period of time. Helpful, corrective comments would certainly be appreciated.

    We set up our 4 hives on 7 acres and 6-7 weeks into our foray into beekeeping, we discovered bees has moved into a tree next to where we commonly parked to service our hives. So we know about when they moved to the tree. No clue as to whether they came from one of our own hives or off property. The problem was that they were robbing the heck out of our other hives, two in particular. We could literally see the trail of bees through the air between the hives. So we put an empty hive box next to the tree hive and put feeders on the box to slow the raiding of our other hives. We consulted various online sources, my wife's bee mentors, and came up with a plan to try a forced abscond. Now I realize in reading a lot of the posts here on the forum that this is pretty routine stuff for experienced beekeepers, but we are new, still learning, and these are some very exciting times for us.

    Checking with the mentors, we figured Texas still has enough warm weather left that we aren't too late in the season to do this. We built a bee vacuum. We took one frame of honey from each of our other hives (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta)as a starter resource for the "new" hive (Echo) just before moving the hive box about 100 feet away to its permanent home. The last frame of honey we tried to take was from Alpha resulted in some very upset bees that decided to defend their honey. That was very exciting and would have been terrifying had my suit not done its job. The first three frame removals from the other hives went off without any real problem, no more disturbance than doing a hive inspection. When we pulled Alpha's frame, the response from the bees sounded about like a leaf blower spinning up.

    Then we tried to move Echo's new hive box home that had been feeding the tree bees to its new location and the tree bees were not pleased at all. They did not respond as aggressively as Alpha, but were quite agitated, and so we started our forced abscond with an upset hive.

    We had prepped the tree hive the 2 days before by drilling 2 3/4" holes into the back of the tree (high and low) that seemed to go into cavities into the tree. We checked the day before and found bees using the high hole as a new entrance, but the low hole was not in use. So on the day of the abscond, with my wife sucking up as many bees as possible, I drilled another hole slightly above the low hole and it penetrated the bee chamber. From there I pumped in smoke to drive the bees out of the tree, alternatively using the high and low hole. They did not come out en masse toward my wife as I had seen in some videos, but instead trickled out over a prolonged period of time. I think that part of the problem was that the winds were not favorable, meaning the large hole where I expected smoke and bees to exit had the wind blowing directly into it and out the back to where I was.

    My wife and I switched out vacuuming and blowing smoke into the tree when I managed to spot the queen coming out. I called for my wife to grab the queen catcher but about as fast as I said that, the queen turned and headed back into the tree, so I sucked up as quickly as I could. The plan was NOT to suck her into the vacuum, but in the heat of the moment, that is exactly what I did. As we thought we had the queen, and several hundred bees, we transported them to their new home and poured them inside. We returned to the tree and managed to collect a few hundred more and added them to the their new home. We then sealed up the tree with window screen cloth.

    The abscond occurred this morning (Sunday). What I thought might take an hour or maybe and hour and a half to accomplish took closer to three hours including recovery of all our gear. I had grossly underestimated how long things might take based on seeing others perform the task on extremely short YouTube videos.

    We checked Echo hive this evening and their old tree home. Echo had consumed more than a quart of supplemented sugar water over the course of the day and had settled down considerably compared to when we had left them. Bees were flying in and out of the hive. The tree hive former home had a few dozen bees on the screen mesh. I am afraid they had been away we when moved the rest of their group.

    During the course of the event, my wife and I experienced a few stings, all from bees that managed to get inside our suits which we determined was from improperly secured leg cuffs. My wife got a little upset when she discovered a bee under her veil, flying around her head. She particularly didn't like it when the bee crashed into her face. As I was running the vacuum, I had her come over to me, partially unzipped her veil and inserted the hose and sucked to bee out in short order. She thought that was pretty hilarious.

    We did get some video and I will try to post some of what we did when I can get it edited. All in all, it wasn't pretty, only sort of when as planned, but it looks promising that we have captured our first hive and put it into a new home.
    Last edited by DoubleNaughtSpy; 09-30-2019 at 10:34 AM.

  2. Remove Advertisements
    BeeSource.com
    Advertisements
     

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,768

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    So you did get the queen? I've never succeeded at getting the queen out of an established colony in a tree. I have done trapouts and gotten a lot of the bees...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    1,163

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleNaughtSpy View Post
    All in all, it wasn't pretty, only sort of when as planned, but it looks promising that we have captured our first hive and put it into a new home.
    DoubleNaughtSpy:

    I enjoyed reading your write-up and can certainly identify with your sentiments of how the execution didn't exactly align with the plan- this seems to be a common refrain in my beekeeping experience.

    From everything I have read, a successful forced abscond can be one of the more difficult projects a beekeeper can undertake, so I expect you have joined some elite company in pulling this one off- congratulations.

    I imagine you all see a little cold weather there in Argyle so hopefully you are able to get Echo to winter weight over the next month or so. Do you have access to any drawn comb you can give them?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Argyle, TX, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    Thanks for the replies. Yes, it appears that we got the queen, though we have not identified her, specifically, in the new hive box. That we have her is based on the notion that the bees we captured are not trying to return to the tree. My understanding from one of our mentors is that since we are still in the same area, had we not gotten the queen, everyone would be trying to get back to the queen.

    We checked on the hives this morning and Echo appears to be doing well. It consumed about 1.75 quarts of supplemented sugar water in the last 22 hours. It has plenty of activity at the hive and the bees appear to have been cleaning tree debris (dumped in with them after they were vacuumed) out the front of the hive onto the ground...so they seem to be settling in, nicely. We gave them 2 more quarts of feed and checked on the tree.

    We had apparently trapped a lot of bees inside the tree, though there were only about a dozen on the outside of the screen we had stapled over the opening. We broke out the vac and smoke, pulled open the screen, and sucked up a couple hundred more bees before closing off the opening again. We released the bees in front of their new home, not wanting to break open the hive again and disturb things too much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    DoubleNaughtSpy:

    I enjoyed reading your write-up and can certainly identify with your sentiments of how the execution didn't exactly align with the plan- this seems to be a common refrain in my beekeeping experience.

    From everything I have read, a successful forced abscond can be one of the more difficult projects a beekeeper can undertake, so I expect you have joined some elite company in pulling this one off- congratulations.

    I imagine you all see a little cold weather there in Argyle so hopefully you are able to get Echo to winter weight over the next month or so. Do you have access to any drawn comb you can give them?
    YES, we have comb from our last inspection. We will introduce it into the hive in the morning. Thank you! We had completely overlooked how that would be beneficial.

    As for our potential success as newbies. I am very confident in saying that performing as a team to capture the bees allowed us to perform better and increased our chances for success. I know a lot of folks work alone and I can see such an undertaking being that much more difficult if you are doing everything yourself.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    1,163

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleNaughtSpy View Post
    As for our potential success as newbies. I am very confident in saying that performing as a team to capture the bees allowed us to perform better and increased our chances for success. I know a lot of folks work alone and I can see such an undertaking being that much more difficult if you are doing everything yourself.
    Good point! Sounds like you are well ahead of the curve. You're a bit warmer than me, but I would suggest adding whatever drawn comb you have and start feeding them as often as you can to get them to the recommended overwintering weight in your area. What do the locals recommend for how much to overwinter on?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Argyle, TX, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Good point! Sounds like you are well ahead of the curve. You're a bit warmer than me, but I would suggest adding whatever drawn comb you have and start feeding them as often as you can to get them to the recommended overwintering weight in your area. What do the locals recommend for how much to overwinter on?
    It is suggested that we have 30 lbs of honey by this time and 30-40 lbs going into winter. We have a month or so more of time for the bees to forage. In fact, right now we have a lot of wild flowers that are still blooming. So hopefully, we will be in good shape come the end of October when things usually start shutting down. Mind you, I am just repeating what has been told to me.

    Finally got the video together. As of this evening, Echo is looking good. With your suggestion, we got some old comb, compressed it a bit and inserted it into the hive. They have 6 frames to work with, so this should be a good start for them.

    https://youtu.be/r7P9_r4TrLs

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Greenville, NC, USA
    Posts
    183

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    You guys did good for newbies. Entrance feeders cause robbing episodes, add an empty box above the inner cover and put the feeders in there. It knocks down the odor and keeps the syrup a little warmer. You need entrance reducers and robber screens. You need to really pump the smoke into that tree cavity to kill the bee smell or get some repellent. You also need to treat for mites. GOOD JOB! Welcome to the forum.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    1,163

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleNaughtSpy View Post
    The video is well-done. I enjoyed watching it.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Argyle, TX, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    Thanks guys!

    Working on additional protections. Interestingly, it would seem that after being put into a box with food, Echo seems to have largely turned from its life of crime robbing others. We aren't seeing the conflicts in front of the two other hives it was most frequently hitting. I don't know what the rate of recidivism is for bees, but I am hoping it is low, LOL.

    My wife and I appreciate the comments and suggestions. She is the quiet one, but is the brains behind the operation.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    1,163

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleNaughtSpy View Post
    She is the quiet one, but is the brains behind the operation.
    Sounds like you married up like me. You all keep up the good work!

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Argyle, TX, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    BAD NEWS and FAILURE! We were duped. The robber bees we put into a new hive that appeared to be living there were in fact not living there at all. Not sure where they are living. The tree they came from still has some bees trying to get into it. We are going to permanently seal it up tomorrow.

    The hive we set up with 4 frames of honey and extra comb was opened today for inspection. There were a lot of bees inside, but we could find no queen and they had just about poached every cell of honey that we had set them up with for getting started. No new comb had been created. It was sad and depressing, feeling like country bumpkins getting conned out of what little cash we had on our first trip to the big city.

    On the bright side, we got into 3 of our other hives and located 2 of the queens. They are all doing well and the brood boxes are mostly loaded with honey, some pollen and a little brood. In each case, the replacement empty frame we put in after taking a full frame all show comb construction and honey being added. The honey supers on top are at various levels of fill, but all have extensive buildup inside. Our best was about 60-70% full and our worst was at about 20%.

    So Echo was a failure. ERRRRRRR.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    1,163

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleNaughtSpy View Post
    So Echo was a failure. ERRRRRRR.
    Good write-up, DNS. While I am sorry the forced abscond did not turn out as well as you had hoped, it no doubt was a good learning experience and you will be well-prepared for the next opportunity to that comes your way.

    Do keep us posted as to your progress- glad your other three hives are doing well.

    Russ

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Argyle, TX, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    Thanks! It is a journey, not a destination. No doubt more will happen along the way.

    We checked our last hive this morning. It is doing well, also.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    1,163

    Default Re: Our First Forced Abscond, Battle Plan Did Not Survive First Contact

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleNaughtSpy View Post
    Thanks! It is a journey, not a destination. No doubt more will happen along the way.

    We checked our last hive this morning. It is doing well, also.
    Well I'd say 3 out of 4 is not too bad!

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •