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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Just making an observation from my limited experience.....

Where I live in central Michigan I really wonder if there are any feral bees left. I do see swarms every so often, but pretty rare. It seems some years I might see 2-3 and then none for many years. I used to spend a lot of time in the woods around the state and I am fairly observant. I have noticed that there doesn't seem to be many honey bees around anymore. Where I have come across wild hives in a tree they have been in relatively close proximity to a beekeeper.

So I have been thinking about trying to find all the BK in my local. Part of my motivation is to simply get to know them a little and find out what their management practices are. (thinking about the varroa issue in part)
Maybe some diplomacy and offering to help might be worth the time. I don't have an agenda other than perhaps encouraging them to use mite check, and maybe be a little more proactive treating for mites. Plus if I do catch a swarm that I know/suspect is from their hives then I would offer to give them back. Another BK I plan on visiting is in a wheelchair. I have seen wild hives across the river from his farm.

Yesterday I did stop at one guys house. He hasn't kept bees for 10 years but did mention that a local guy keeps a few hives up the road in a woodlot ,"but doesn't take good care of them". Filed that information away.

I set out a half dozen swarm boxes 2 years ago and didn't have any luck. I tried to follow conventional wisdom placing them along the edges or just inside woodlots up 8 plus ft.

I was aware that some of the traps/boxes where more than a mile but not over 3 miles from several BK yards. Wondered a little about the ethics but figured if someone isn't managing for swarms....can't brand bees anyway.

Question: do bees tend to swarm up wind from their parent hive? Also do bees forage mostly upwind? Thinking prevailing wind direction.
 

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Question: do bees tend to swarm down wind from their parent hive? Also is this true for foraging?
Ask Grey Goose about feral bees in MI, just North of you.

I recently watched a vid where the person was saying that "swarms always go west, north, or east; never south".
Never understood the reasoning for that statement.

Down wind?
What would be the logic in that?
If anything, the swarm will go the way they found new home (OR found a good foraging spot) - wind or no wind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I meant to say upwind. Corrected my post before reading your reply because I realized my mistake.

My thinking is that bees would pick up odors from trees/plants upwind of their hive. I have placed my hives at the upwind side of my orchard and I don't see bees on the blooming apple trees yet. They seem to be mostly flying South to Southwest into the wind toward the woodlot 1/2 mile away.

Just a bit of curiosity because I haven't read any research on this.
 

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There was a guy on YouTube who put his traps up wind of existing hives.
The thinking being that the wind would carry the scent of the lure towards the bees.
 

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yes there are feral bees in Michigan.
Keep in mind bees were "brought" here in the early 1900s so technologically they are all escapees.

when i was a kid we used to hunt bee trees.

So today 80 % of swarms by you are coming out of hives. Some find homes in walls, barns, trees etc. then the other 20% of the swarms are from these "wild" swarms.
The mites have really took a bite out of them but IMO not 100% loss. Good in a way as the ferals are good drone stock.

So yes most of the swarms you catch will be mine so just give me a PM when you catch one and I'll come and Pick it up, :)

As far as which way they go ?? I have never gave thought to that. IMO they look for a cavity, which after logging in Mich, is a rare find. I have never took direction into my calculations. Most of my traps are where I go any way and I check them on the way by, so I am trying to save travel time. Also have a trap at 2 aunts and an 1 uncles place, couple friends, my dad's etc.
 

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...... Wondered a little about the ethics but figured if someone isn't managing for swarms....can't brand bees anyway..
As far as the ethics are concerned - as soon as someone lost a swarm it only makes sense for anyone out in the field to try and intercept that loose swarm.
A loose swarm is public nuisance and is about to enter someone's house, barn, or any other human structure (since the natural bee trees are virtually non-existent in most places).

Plenty ethical as far as I am concerned - just from this single point of view (there are many more other valid points).
Just no need to be brazen about it. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I don't purposely target other BK. It is just coincidence that 2 of my close friends live fairly close to them. One of these friends has been interested in BK so I put a trap in his woods. The other friend has 80 acres or so with 40 something being of beautiful hardwood forest and stream. Both are good places to keep hives. Where I live is heavy agriculture. So while I may keep a few hives at home it feels a little like animal abuse. If the girls swarmed off or abscond I would write it off as them getting tired of the long commute to work. (just kidding)

So some food for thought; If a neighbor bk isn't managing well, is losing swarms, spreading disease, ....Catching one of his/her swarms and returning it with the offer to help them avoid issues might just convince them to up their game, which only helps your own efforts. I will at least try once. I'm still working on my own education so my help might be not up to speed yet.

I have found this attitude of diplomacy can be of great wealth. There is the potential to make long lasting friendships. Some of my closest friends came about in this fashion. One friend was new to our local having moved from across the state. They bought a fixer upper, really a wreck. I overheard his wife expressing worries about the $30,000 estimate they just got to fix the roof. So I offered them "membership" into a group of friends. I would assemble a team of experienced fixer upper type guys and we would re-build the roof if they did 3 things. Bought the materials required, fed us when we worked there, and agreed to become a working member of the group of friends. We re-built the roof in a little over a week. ...They were able to save enough and sold the house at considerable profit and then bought an 80 acre farm. The wife now owns a very busy catering business, (I helped them set up their commercial kitchen)
The husband and I argue back and forth about who has benefited the most, both of us claiming to have benefited the most.

It really is awesome. Of course there are some folks that get a lot of head bobbing and a hasty retreat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Where I live there are a lot of hollow trees, Where there are beech trees there are hollow beech trees. Similar with basswood. Some maple. Talking mature woodlots. I've felled trees in the 1000's at least. worked in logging for a while, heated with wood for a long time and used to take down problem trees for landowners. Awaiting the loosening of Covid restrictions on elective surgery to see about fixing a bad back. Don't much pick up a saw anymore because of this, but miss the work/fun

I have thought about hunting for bees, sounds like fun.
 

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Where I live there are a lot of hollow trees, .........
I have thought about hunting for bees, sounds like fun.
Lucky for you.
In my area, the bees mostly find old farm houses and barns with hollow walls - then settle into them.
That seems to be our local substitute for the "bee trees".
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A long time ago one of my friends family bought a second farm property. There was an abandoned house across the road from the existing home and part of the overall property. I heard from them after the fact that they had poisoned a hive in the floor space at the top of the stairs at the second floor. It had been a monster old hive. 2 adjoining sections under the floor 16" wide X 6-8 ft long. 8 or 10 inches deep. I remember feeling a bit sad looking at the wreckage.

Would be nice to find something like that today................
 

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It really is awesome.
Great post, Trin. I appreciate the community attitude and have also found that building bridges is a great way to find common ground.

Hopefully some feral bees come your way this year.

Russ
 
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