Hive in the woods
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
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    Princeton, NJ
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    Default Hive in the woods

    My daughter and her dog located a feral bee colony while on a walk in a near by forest yesterday. I haven't gone over yet to look at it but she sent over a video to show me. Couple things that I'm wondering, first, it looks like it's ion a hole in the ground from a fallen tree-how the heck do you get that out? Second, time of year-thinking unless I can get comb and the queen (see item 1) the time of year appears that it may not be recoverable and then sustainable to make winter here. Third, it's about two miles from our yard-even if I did get the queen, would they just fly back? I hae some 5 frame nuc's and 10 frame deeps and mediums that are unused-no comb. Most likely, in the place they are, they're either going to get flooded, suffocated if we get snow and in general, won't see the dandelions next year.

    Any thoughts or recommendations? Booked today with silly conference calls and since they still send the check, I need to be on them-possibly tomorrow am for a look-see.

    Tried to up load the 20 second video but beyond my post-graduate degree in engineering abilities.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    Quote Originally Posted by LarryBud View Post
    My daughter and her dog located a feral bee colony while on a walk in a near by forest yesterday. .........
    What is the rush to get them?
    Why even get them at all?
    Do you urgently need more bees OR afraid someone else will take them?

    I'd try to ensure their best survival over the winter and so check on them time to a time for that (make sure they can breath, at least).
    IF they do survive (a good sign of a worthy bee), I'd consider what to do in spring - a cut-out OR trap for the swarms (I'd prefer the swarms and keep the source as-is).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Redding, California
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    94

    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    I'm a noob but totally agree with GregV.

    As a former land manager my first thought was ... who owns the land the bees are on? State, local, feds, private, they may welcome or prohibit the bee removal. Was she walking on a public trail and will your attempt to collect the bees create a public nuisance, danger or perceived danger? You probably have considered all of this but that is where my mind goes.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Covington County, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    I would leave them alone for this season and possibly revisit in the Spring. It all depends on whether you are able to dig them out (cut out) or trap them out. If you are able to dig them out, and you really just want the project, then you can get the queen and have what may be new genetics to your yard. If you cannot dig them out, and you must only trap them out, then you will likely not get the queen, thus no new genetics.

    A cut out may be worth it if you otherwise want the project and the new colony. A trap out is nothing more than gathering a bunch of bees with no genetics. I really don't see much value in that. If this is a project that you and your daughter might enjoy doing together, then I would go for it either way.

  6. #5
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    Dec 2017
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    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    If the things pan out AND is possible to do - I'd actually consider just taking the entire log home in spring.
    Lots of IF's of course (property trespassing is an immediate concern to consider).
    But an active bee-tree on my own bee-yard would be really cool - I'd use it to capture the swarms from and just keep them as-is.
    A fellow beekeeper cut a chunk of fallen bee-tree last fall and took it all home - bees and all (per the owner's wish - it had to be done on the spot and right then).
    Just plugged the holes and loaded up the entire chunk of trunk onto the truck and took it.
    But again - lots of IFs.

    The most practical way for now I can see - try to capture some swarms in spring in hopes of new genetics.
    Last edited by GregV; 09-14-2020 at 10:20 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Northern Il, USA
    Posts
    925

    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    Fun!
    I'd consider putting a few traps out next spring, and otherwise leave it alone, if it isn't bothering anyone.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    Princeton, NJ
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    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    I went out this morning to look at the hive and can offer the following. It appears to be underground-unusual for honeybees. They look Italian (handlebar mustaches-LOL) and are probably from a domestic summer swarm. The ground is the remains of a downed tree, rotten out and they must have found some void underground and occupied it. Absolutely no way to dig through the root mass and rocks with out destroying the hive. The land is owned by a personal friend, who I coached little league for 12 years where we park out cars when visiting the adjacent town owned nature preserve. He'd let me bring in a 50 ton excavator to dig them out if I wanted to but there's no way to get to them without destroying everything anyway. There is a 5 acre meadow within a 100 feet that's currently exploding with goldenrod and they're ring in a lot of pollen like my hives are right now. I think it's pretty cool to see some free range bees and am going to leave them alone, maybe put a open ended plywood box over the hive opening so they won't suffocate if we get heavy snow this winter and perhaps put some swarm traps nearby in the spring. Something cool to watch, hopefully they'll make it and I have something to look at when walking the dog (some may remember her, "Hey, Get Back Here">). Funny, I don't need bees now anyway and had just put in an order for spring time nuc's. I had a good first year and am looking forward to expanding my apiary reasonably next spring.

  9. #8
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    Dec 2017
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    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    Thanks for the update, LB.
    Be fun to see how these bee do in spring.
    Just watching the feral bees in natural setup is fun and educational as it is.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Export, Pa.
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Thanks for the update, LB.
    Be fun to see how these bee do in spring.
    Just watching the feral bees in natural setup is fun and educational as it is.
    They are probbly not Honeybees and Even if they are let them in the wild and split your bees next year - Even if they are honey bees youll kill them .

  11. #10
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    Jul 2020
    Location
    Princeton, NJ
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    150

    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    Lou, They are clearly honeybees, darker, probably Italians from a local domestic swarm> After a year of beekeeping and a lifetime of fly fishing-I'm pretty good at identifying insects. I am planning on leaving them, far cry from a swarm on a tree branch and I'm planning on splitting my own hives next spring and am already talking with my bee supplier on additional nuc's for this spring. I walked by them with the dog yesterday (she has learned she doesn't like jalapeno sky raisins) and they're blasting the fall flow here. (yes that is a yellow jacket)

    https://pics.me.me/sal-sky-raisins-j...y-58863462.png

  12. #11
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    May 2020
    Location
    Redding, California
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    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    LarryBud, I always enjoy your sense of humor.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    Pinellas, Florida, USA
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    34

    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    Quote Originally Posted by LarryBud View Post
    My daughter and her dog located a feral bee colony while on a walk in a near by forest yesterday. I haven't gone over yet to look at it but she sent over a video to show me. Couple things that I'm wondering, first, it looks like it's ion a hole in the ground from a fallen tree-how the heck do you get that out?
    I did a removal on just such a stump. The comb was almost 3 feet down in the ground. I wouldn't have believed it was possible because it was very near a river and bayou (Tarpon Springs, Florida) where the ground water had to be just below the comb. It was a pine tree that had been cut down years before and the center had rotted away yet the bees had propolised it underground to the point it was waterproof. They were entering around the edge of a root in the dirt to gain access to their hive. As I lightly brushed off the rotten wood from the center of the stump, I found the beginnings of their uppermost comb. Without disturbing the comb, yet seeing the orientation of the comb I used a spud bar to probe the ground around the stump to find the major roots so I would know where to dig. I was able to dig 2 large holes on either side of the stump hoping I would find the outer edges of the hive so I could start cutting out the comb and strapping it into frames. I filled a 10 frame deep box with mostly brood and another 10 frame with about 4 frames of food and empty frames. It was almost 6 hours from start to finish and when I left for the night, the bees where coming and going as if nothing happened. Never saw the queen but the bees were showing me by way of their Nasonov gland that she was inside and all was well. Left the hive that night and all the following day and retrieved the hive about 8:00PM the following night mainly to give the bees time to connect all the comb so there wouldn't any comb breaking loose during the trip home and also because I don't leave bees behind by taking a hive during the day.

    If you take your time, there's no reason you shouldn't get the queen. Fill the box with frames and shake or brush the bees off the comb as gently as possible and remove frames as you replace them with frames from the cutout. If you can start from one edge of the hive, then every comb you put in the box will be in the same orientation as they were in the hive.

    Tips,
    Get a couple (from goodwill) long serrated knifes so you can use one for cutting brace comb between the combs. The other you can measure down about 3 in. from the tip and heat it with a torch and put a 90deg. bend in it so you can cut the comb while keeping the knife vertical since you probably won't have a great deal of room to work.

    An old shower curtain to slide under the hive to catch all the bees so they don't end up getting coated in nectar or honey and then get covered in dirt and debris.

    A few straight branches to put from the inside and around the stump and rested on the box and landing board so the bees can easily get to their new home.

    You may also want to have a few 5gal. buckets with bags inside for scraps. Surprisingly, I had less than a quarter of a bucket of scrap and less than a quarter of a bucket of capped honey when I was finished. The bags are to be able to open and close quickly so you don't end up with a robbing situation. NO FUN!

    I was called by a science teacher at a high school about this hive and he asked me if I could help him get it so he could keep bees at the high school to use as a teaching aid. As you can guess, he was late arriving so I was more than half done when he got there. But having the experience of seeing an underground bee hive and also being able to rescue it (we had a hurricane coming our way) from drowning, was in itself very rewarding...although not financially.

    In closing, the gentleman who got the bees (almost 3 years to the day) has gone on to make multiple splits from that hive and it's still a very strong, genteel and viable hive today.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    2,123

    Default Re: Hive in the woods

    LarryBud:

    Good thread. Another option you could consider this Spring is a Cleo Hogan trap-out. I've attached the general idea, and if you are planning on making a snow shield anyway you could make it in such a way that you could incorporate the trap-out connection at a date convenient to you.

    Good luck to you- sounds like a good Father/Daughter project.

    Russ

    Hogan Bee Trap.pdf
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

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