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Discussion Starter #41
How are those local ferals doing so far? :)
My friend has captured 4 swarms so far, and they are all doing great.... and he doesn't feed them. . . which is why I keep thinking -I'm- doing something wrong.

frazzledfozzle said:
How many bees do you actually have in the hive? How big is the cluster?
Well, when I started there was around the same amount (or more) than you find in a package. As of now, there is still a VERY large cluster, but some of died off (I see 3-4 every night, but they clean up the next day). I have a video of them around here somewhere when I put them in a box.
 

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Is there any way you could get a comb of brood from your friend? Maybe see if they try raising a queen?

I know you've stated your desire to "keep it local", but surely in Ventura, CA area there is someone raising "local" queens. It seems a waste to let a decent swarm die out if you could get the resources for them to survive. It's remarkable how quickly our hive went from basically an unmoving ball of bees drinking barely any syrup to a foraging, comb building, syrup guzzling well organized workforce over night.

About how much syrup have your bees taken since you started feeding them? Ours would take maybe an inch out of an 18 oz jar over 2-3 days. They took about 36 oz in three days or so after we got them a queen. And they had built comb, stored pollen, and the queen had laid in that period of time.
 

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Discussion Starter #44
Yes, I know that for sure, but I was more-so talking about the behavior of our local, feral bees here. he's a good 20 miles away from me, so I know that my bees are in their own little eco-system. I just wish I had a queen I could use to verify if they have one, but if they do, I'd still be very upset with why they aren't building.. We will have temps in the 80s to low 90s through the rest of this week, so if that doesn't give them any warmth, I don't know what will. I figure at this point, I'll just keep the feeder on, let them be, and if they fail, then I'll probably have to try again, or wait until next spring.
 

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Yes, I know that for sure, but I was more-so talking about the behavior of our local, feral bees here. he's a good 20 miles away from me, so I know that my bees are in their own little eco-system. I just wish I had a queen I could use to verify if they have one, but if they do, I'd still be very upset with why they aren't building.. We will have temps in the 80s to low 90s through the rest of this week, so if that doesn't give them any warmth, I don't know what will. I figure at this point, I'll just keep the feeder on, let them be, and if they fail, then I'll probably have to try again, or wait until next spring.
Close to any almond orchards?

It seems like thinking any swarm you may catch is "feral" may be a bit of stretch. The way bees are shipped and hives are trucked thousands of miles, how could you ever be sure what you have is "wild"? You seem really discouraged, and I was too. I think letting idealogy or a predetermined "way" you're going to keep bees is a good thing to have. But does it have to be a death pact? If your friend 20 miles away can spare a frame of brood from one of his survivor hives, why not give them a shot to survive?

That's just my thought. You said you've been wanting to keep bees for a long time and now you finally have a place to do it, so do it! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #46
While I can never say for sure if the swarm is truly "feral" I'm more inclined to want to catch a swarm from a hive that was strong enough to swarm (and has been able to survive in our environment). The one I have was caught in the middle of Ventura, not near any orchards for fields attached to a fence at an apartment complex, and considering the distance they fly after a swarm, I'm highly dubious they came from a beekeeper (but, of course, who knows for sure).

I've asked my buddy for help, but it's not like we're close friends, so i don't know what he's willing to do. I want to do what I can to ensure their survival, but I'm limited right now based on a bunch of factors.

I also want to thank everyone again for your advice and support. I very much appreciate it.
 

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I used a carboard box, but what that box went through is a mystery quite frainkly. Also, a concern I had was if I let the hive box "air out" long enough after I sealed it with an oil based treatment (12 days after final coat). Also, I DID realize that I used a paint brush to apply the wax, but the brush hasn't been used for YEARS.... then again, maybe that did something??? also, if there was an environmental issue the bees wouldn't have liked, would they have just absconded due to the smell? At least with the second swarm, they did not just start dying off right away like the first... but, then again, that was 7 days later, so if there was some chemical gas-off happening at that point, I can see how it would have made a difference 7 days later.
So what was this oil treatment? Did you treat the inside? and what wax did you apply where?
 

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Discussion Starter #48
So what was this oil treatment? Did you treat the inside? and what wax did you apply where?
It was Tung oil. I did not treat the inside at all. it's bare Cedar. I applied beeswax to the edges of the top bars.
 

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While I can never say for sure if the swarm is truly "feral" I'm more inclined to want to catch a swarm from a hive that was strong enough to swarm (and has been able to survive in our environment).
Bearing in mind a hive, feral or managed will swarm/abscond if the mite load becomes intolerable
 

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Well seeing that your local bees dont want to build maybe you should look farther away for bees that do :)

What i would do is ask your buddy to see if you could put one of your bars in the middle of his brood nest. It will show first if there is something wrong with your bars if they start to draw it out or not. once started with some eggs and larva bring it back and put it in your hive. See if it motivates you bees to start building or make a queen cells. This will show you if they have a queen, and brood motivates them to work.

If you friends swarms are only 20 miles apart, i would think they would be pretty close simular to your bees. unless you have some big mountains or water between you i bet there is some breeding between your location and his. just remeber living bees are better than dead local bees.
 

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Discussion Starter #51
well... Look who I found today? _MG_9731.jpg

So much for that theory. At this point, I'm depserate.... Now I just need to find some bees w/o a queen and maybe they'll work together? I dunno. I feel terrible that this swarm might just die out. I'm down to probably only 1 or 2 thousand bees... maybe less.... :-(

And, yes, I totally concede my local bee philosophy, but in my head it makes some sort of ecological sense. Not really anymore though...
 

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well... Look who I found today? View attachment 10580

So much for that theory. At this point, I'm depserate.... Now I just need to find some bees w/o a queen and maybe they'll work together? I dunno. I feel terrible that this swarm might just die out. I'm down to probably only 1 or 2 thousand bees... maybe less.... :-(

And, yes, I totally concede my local bee philosophy, but in my head it makes some sort of ecological sense. Not really anymore though...
Your philosophy makes perfect sense, but like I said, it shouldn't be a death pact.
Strange the queen is there but no comb. Does anyone know if bees will build comb with a virgin queen or will they languish? Makes me wonder if you're not somehow catching a "collapsed" hive? Is this possible. Those bees that disappear go SOMEWHERE right?
 

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Discussion Starter #53
If this is the 2nd Colony in a row this happened to..... queen-right and no comb, what exactly could this mean? I'm not going to go chasing swarms if I am doing something horribly wrong.
 

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If this is the 2nd Colony in a row this happened to..... queen-right and no comb, what exactly could this mean? I'm not going to go chasing swarms if I am doing something horribly wrong.
I don't know, but I doubt it's something you're doing wrong. My guess is something is wrong with the queen/bees.

I'm really curious to here if a virgin queen will have "the right stuff" to drive a colony to build comb.
 

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Discussion Starter #55
Well, they are clinging to her like a normal colony. Obviously they are feeding her. Or have been thus far.
 

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I thought that bees will draw comb as fast as they can so the mated queen can lay eggs so that the colony will survive. If you are feeding them and the queen is mated the workers should draw comb. I would add that you could give the colony some pollen patties. That may give them some protein and help them get going.

I got some patties from here and the bees are eating them up and it is helping them through this rather cold spring here.

http://globalpatties.com/pages/why.htm

I hope things work out that is a nice looking queen.
 

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Discussion Starter #57 (Edited)
i thought pollen for specifically for rearing brood. They use honey/sugar syrup for comb.... I fear this colony is doomed, as their numbers are really low now (80% are gone) and still nothin'.

here's a thought... can you add bees w/o a queen to a colony like this one? That way I could increase their numbers and try to save them.
 

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You can add nurse/house bees from any hive(s) with impunity. A comb of emerging worker brood, with the nurse bees that are on it, works pretty well.

The photo of your queen, shows me that she is most likely recently a virgin, and if she does lay, has only recently begun.

It is more complicated if you add field bees (unintentionally), or a foreign queen - so be careful to leave those out. If you only have older, field bees to add, it's best if they are queenless overnight before adding them. There are many various techniques used to combine disparate groups of honey bees. The easiest one is to just add young bees to your older bees.
 

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Fellow n00b disclaimer! :)

Seems like one thing you haven't tried is the hardest to recreate...the hive. Maybe you could set up a temporary nuc style top bar hive for them, move them over, and see if they start building? They are super easy to build, and you probably have enough scraps laying around. Something like this is what I have in mind: http://denver.craigslist.org/grd/4444990311.html Also, maybe they don't like your top bar wood.

I am not sure about Tung oil, but I know people using linseed oil for the outside of hives works fine (including myself). Of course I am assuming you used nothing besides beeswax on the inside right?
 

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Discussion Starter #60
I'm desperate a this point. There are only hundreds left... out of 10k. :(

I wonder if her still being a virgin might be the issue. She did appear 'young' but what do I know?

The only thing on the inside is beeswax on the top bars, but if something was IN the beeswax, wouldn't they avoid it all together? They clump up top like normal....
 
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