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Feral Swarm in a Trap

3210 Views 17 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Cleo C. Hogan Jr
I set swarm traps near several feral bee trees this year and have had pretty good luck catching swarms. I was really impressed by this one because of what a great job the queen has done. So i made a video to share. I checked the trap 2 weeks ago and it was empty, so all of this has been since then.
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Very good. Was there any drones, mature or capped? If so I would make a small three frame nuc and raise some queens.
Do swarms have more mites and diseases than the one we normally get either package or nucs from the reputable
bee company? Have you check their mite level to compare?
The swarms I have captured have been clean.
All that in 2 weeks!? Kiss that queen!
Thank you. I didn't see any drone comb. The last frame I loved with capped brood looked a little like it but it was worker brood. If she keeps this up I will try to make some splits off of her next year or maybe even graft some queens. I'm new to this and still learning.
Neil if possible try to get some drones from this feral hive. The genetics is in both the queen and the drones. Good Luck
I haven't checked their mite level. I just hived them today. They are a true feral swarm from a tree I found last fall.
Do a powdered sugar dusting asap and let us know.
Neil if possible try to get some drones from this feral hive.
I'm a little puzzled. What will he do with the drones from his hive? Do you mean encourage the queen to lay drones or actually harvest drones from the hive? Don't see the value of that unless used in AI.

This is my first year to trap swarms and I have just carried the nuc home and let them sit for a day or two to settle down and then I would put them in a regular hive. Is there a benefit to hiving them at the location of the trap? I have caught five swarms so far and they have all done well this way, but I'm wondering if one way is better than the other. I guess it was just a little lighter carrying my nuc to the truck rather than a full size hive. What do you guys think?
I didn't understand what the idea was for catching drones either. I just assumed that was over my head.

This is my first year doing swarm traps, also. I really didn't make a good way to close up the trap to move the bees before hiving them. So I hive them during the day into a standard deep on a SBB so that I can close the entrance without worrying about overheating or suffocating them while I move them. So far, moving them to the base of the tree has been close enough to the original location that all the foragers find it by nightfall. Then, on the day I move them, I show up just before good daylight, close the entrance and haul them to my yard.
Drones from this hive will add the queen's genetics to any virgin queens that mate with them. Thus you get some of her genetics into your new hives through the virgin queens even if you don't graft or otherwise make queens from her eggs. You'll need lots of drones from the queen's hive through drone frames or drone cells on frames to try and flood the local drone congregation areas with those genetics. You're not actually catching drones, just raising them from a specific hive that you want the genetics from.
You can tape or staple screen over the entrance to close off the entrance where the bees can't get out but air can get in. You can also bend screen or #8 hardware cloth into a "V" and push the point of the V into the entrance. A robbing screen that is closed (if it has closeable entrances) will do the same thing--air in and no bees out.
The solution here is simple. Harvest starts from the trees rather than letting them swarm, and hit or miss at catching the swarms. You will harvest drones and the right mix to take to your bee yard. As you take more starts you get more drones in your yards.

If you use the Hogan Swarm Harvester, you will get approximately the same mix in your harvested bees that you have in the feral colony. The harvesting does not hurt the feral colony so long as you quit taking starts in time for the bees to build back up before Winter. It is common to take 3 to 5, good, 4 pound starts from each tree each year. If you take the queen, then you must allow time for the feral colony to make a new queen before taking the next start.

Last week I removed the frames (5) from a cedar tree harvester and the queen was on the 2d frame I removed. Since there were 4 frames layed solid with brood, I decided to leave the queen in the box ( I also left one frame of brood). I decided to let the feral bees make their own queen from the three remaining frames of brood after I moved them to one of my yards. Of course I will lose some of the genetics in the future because the new bee yard will not have solely that tree's drones. (But that is also true in the wild). Drones were also in the trap. And, there were several there, as well as capped drone brood.

Using good management practices and harvesting bees rather than let them swarm is the way to go. Trapping is not really the right word for this practice, since no trap is used, but rather, you allow the bees to use your box as another chamber of their colony.

In the interest of full disclosure, I say again, I receive no payment from Kelly Bee Company or anyone else, for their sale of the Bee Harvester. And you, as countless others have done, can make your own harvester. Many years ago I willfully gave the plans to them in the interest of helping bee keepers harvest feral bees without killing the colony. I have a 12 page document that explains the entire process and have shared it with thousands of individuals in the past several years. It is still available. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] and I will send you a copy. As always there is no charge to beekeepers.

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I like your trap-out method, in fact i am running one right now. The only change i made was that i built a bottom board that contains all of the apparatus so that i can use a standard ten frame box on top. The drawbacks, it seems to me, are that it is difficult to get a survivor/feral queen. So i have a stategy for that. I set the trap-out early in March and left the door open for them to come and go through the box until they swarmed. they swarmed a couple of weeks ago and i was lucky and caught the swarm in another bait hive, that is my only other youtube post. once they swarmed, i closed the door, the idea being that once the virgin made her flight, she would have to leave the tree through my funnel and box and when she returns she should take up residence in my box since she can't get back into the tree. So i get two true survivor hives (the swarm and the returning queen). it will deplete this one bee tree but i am ok with that. i decided i didn't want an unmanaged hive as close to my managed hives as this one is, about 800 yards away.

I have been recording my progress and i hope when i check the trapout this weekend i find the virgin has mated and returned and is living and laying in my box. if so, i am going to piece together that video and post it as well. I think people will like the bottom board design i made, i have a ten frame for something like what i am doing and also a 5-frame version i haven't used yet that would be suitable for taking starts like you describe. i had installed the tube on the parent hive from the video in my original post on this thread but never added the trap out. they swarmed and i got lucky.
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Neil... That is a good idea. Since I rarely use the system for elimination of colonies, I just leave the Harvester attached to the tree.

On another forum post, I just posted, that last week I removed 4 frames of the 5 frames that were in the harvester. I found the queen on the 2d frame I removed. Since I had at least two frames that contained unsealed brood, I decided to leave the feral queen in the tree ( I put her back into the tunnel) and let the brood make their own queen (same genetics, minus drones) at one of my yards.

If you are only taking starts, (as opposed to elimination of a problem colony) and you want the genetics, I leave the harvester in place until the queen lays several frames in the harvester, then make sure she is not on any of the frames that you take, then take the brood and let them make themselves a queen. I quit this processabout the 15th of June each year so the colony can build up for Winter.

This is how I would handle any feral colony that is close enough (gas is expensive), to visit occasionally to properly manage the harvester. With proper management you can get 3 to 5 colonies each year from a good tree, house, tank, etc...

Tomorrow I will try to get a photo of the Harvester I have set up.

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Tomorrow came early. I remembered that I had photos of the harvester when I set it up.

If anyone is in the Mammoth Cave Kentucky area, and would like to see the harvester and how it works, let me know. Happy to show it to you.

This tree is in a fence row. The land owner did not want the colony eliminated. I wrapped the tree in black plastic, drove two legs to support the harvester, attached the transition to the tree, then added the deep. First results are in previous post.

Tree Grass Fence Plant Wood

Bee Beehive Honeybee Insect Apiary
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