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Howdy from the Santa Barbara Back Country

593 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  AR1
Alan Prichard here, posting from the headwaters of the Santa Ynez river. I live and work off-grid and will be putting out my first hives when the timing is right. A few years back I met the head of the local beekeeping association, who said that the way to go was to use a swarm trap to capture a local colony. I have at least two separate colonies in or near my compound. They seem pretty docile as they don’t seem to mind me standing in front of their hives, which are in oak trees. I will take a class or two when available and join the association to get as knowledgeable as I can before diving in. Meanwhile I will hang out here and learn what I can.
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Welcome, Alan.

From my very humble vantage point I think locally adapted stock is a good idea, and if they are already on your place- all the better.

I think swarm traps would be a good idea and you might consider setting them in the general vicinity of the feral colonies to increase your odds of homing any swarms that are issued this coming Spring.

Best of success to you in your beekeeping efforts, and I think you are wise to learn everything you can this Winter.

Thanks Litsinger, I was wondering how far to put them. That happens to be the distance from the feral colony that I plan on placing the hive so it works out nicely. I have made contact with a local bee guru who has deigned to assist me, despite (or because of?) my remote location.
I have made contact with a local bee guru who has deigned to assist me, despite (or because of?) my remote location.
It has been my experience that swarms will initially bivouac within 30 - 50 yards of their home. That said, Dr. Tom Seeley suggests that swarm sites more remote from the established colony might get preferential treatment, all other things equal.

If I were in your shoes, I might consider having a well-constructed bait hive or two within 100 yards of both colonies, with the entrances facing South or East and as high in the air as practical.

Regardless, if you have the time and means to walk by both locations in the early afternoon most days prior to your local Spring flow, you might find them bivouacked and ready to collect.

I am glad you have found a mentor- if they are interested in helping due to your remote location, it will at least give you a sense of their general philosophy towards beekeeping- if they are in favor of utilizing local feral stock and you are too, I expect this will make the mentoring experience more enjoyable for both parties.

Best of luck to you!

If you put empty hives right where you already want to keep them permanently, the swarms may come in naturally. Ne mess no fuss. My current bees are all descended from a swarm that came to an empty hive on my front porch.

Lots of information on this website about how to trap bees. It's fun and surprisingly easy, but kind of hit or miss. Some years I get bees, other years not. I'd say you have excellent chances, if you already know there are bees nearby. If you know of two hives, there are probably dozens hiding out in the area.
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