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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been reading the post here since April and started my first hive from a nucleus that arrived 2 weeks ago so my knowledge in this field is limited.

I discovered a hive of feral bees in a tree out in one of our pastures. The tree is approximately 1/2 mile (as the bee flies) from my newly installed hive location in my backyard. I can reach the lower opening in the tree from the back of a pickup, but can't access the upper portions of the comb from that opening.

I have read the options of cutting out the hive from the tree vs leaving the hive and catching swarms from it or taking bees from it.

My first dilemma is if the bees will return to their tree hive regardless of the method harvested due to the close proximity of their tree to my bee yard.

Second, is it too late in the season to even mess with them and would they be better off by letting them alone until earlier next spring?

The tree and the land it is growing on are mine so there is no hurry to do anything. Your thoughts and opinions would be greatly appreciated.

I have attached a few photos to hopefully help illustrate the situation.
 

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Tom,

Our flow will be over by August 1st, so it's too late in the season for them to benefit you in anyway this year.

I've found it far better to just mine known bee trees by catching swarms repeatedly from them, then to remove or trap them out just once. If they were mine I would just let them be, good also to have their genetics around. (Cleo Hogan does have a trap out system that you can use that doesn't kill the parent colony)

Lots of feral colonies and swarms in our area, not hard at all to catch all the bees you would ever want here. Most of us in this area have a bigger problem of not being able to ever have enough equipment for all the bees we can catch.

Don
 

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Tom,

Our flow will be over by August 1st, so it's too late in the season for them to benefit you in anyway this year.

I've found it far better to just mine known bee trees by catching swarms repeatedly from them, then to remove or trap them out just once. If they were mine I would just let them be, good also to have their genetics around. (Cleo Hogan does have a trap out system that you can use that doesn't kill the parent colony)

Lots of feral colonies and swarms in our area, not hard at all to catch all the bees you would ever want here. Most of us in this area have a bigger problem of not being able to ever have enough equipment for all the bees we can catch.

Don

how far do you put your swarm box from a known bee tree? a certain direction?
 

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i wholeheartedly agree with don's reply.

i have had swarms fly into my traps as close as 50 yards away from my beeyard, but the veterans will tell you it's better to shoot for a couple of hundred yards or better. for bait a frame of old brood comb (consider spraying some bt on it to keep the wax moths from destroying it) and swarm lure purchased from mann lake have worked really well here.

even if that bee tree casts swarms into nearby trees, the drones they will provide to your queens during mating are invaluable.
 

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Tom Maue... While I certainly respect Mr. Beeman and D Semple, I disagree with the approach of just hoping to catch a swarm that comes from a tree on your property. Swarm boxes are hit and miss at best. I dare say you will miss more than you catch.

And if there are more opportunities than you can handle, then that is a different situation. However, that is not the case in most areas of the country.

If you want a sure thing, then place a trap on the tree, do not take the queen, so you do not kill the wild colony. Just take the number of starts you want from the feral colony. In most places you can take 2-4 starts and still leave the colony for the next year. I would rather have a sure thing, than to just hope that a colony would move into one of my boxes.

On the other hand, if you do not know where the feral bees live, if they are too high, or if you cannot seal off all entrances/exits but one, then, put out boxes and hope you catch a swarm that moves in. Otherwise, harvest as many as you can, leave the setup over the Winter, then trap again next Spring. A sure thing is far better that to just hope a swarm moves in.

If you are not familiar with this method of harvesting bees from feral sources, send me an e-mail and I will send you a 12 page document which will outline the system, tells you how to make the trap, and has photos of traps in progress. No charge and no one will call.

[email protected]

Welcome to Beesource.

cchoganjr
 

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Cleo's is very good advice and the best part of his system and techniques is your not killing the parent colony, (which we all like) but just harvesting some of the workers. By all means email him and take him up on his offer for his system.

But, I would still wait until next spring here in our area. We are on the tail end of our main flow and extra bees just become a liability here if they don't have enough stores during our late summer dearth. And, I wouldn't want to weaken the parent colony much just now right before our summer dearth.

We have been seeing some late swarms here the last 2 weeks because of the great flow we are having, if your nuc is needing a population boost throw out a swarm catching ad on craigslist, most everybody else in the area has quit catching swarms for the season and you will get some calls and can do a combine with them. Or shoot me an email and we will try to hook you up.

Welcome to Beesource. Hope to see you at our NEKBA meetings. www.nekba.org

Don
 

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just harvesting some of the workers
D Semple... Please allow me to expand a little on your comment, for those who are new at harvesting bees and may not know the concept and the how and why the system works.

The real beauty of the system is by giving the bees a frame with unsealed brood you bring out nurse bees, housekeepers, cleaners, fanners and of course the guard bees. This gives you the right mix of bees to start a new colony, much the same as a swarm has the right mix of bees.

In the cone funnel method of trapping bees you initially get field bees. Then, over time, as the other bees exit the colony for rest or cleansing flights you get the other bees you need to start a new colony, but, not necessarily in the quantity you need, or the right mix, as the only reason you are getting them is, they left the hive for rest or cleansing flights. In the cone funnel method you will not get the queen until late in the trap out as she is not going to leave her brood nest and go outside. She will eventually come out, when the colony is reduced, and honey/pollen is depleted. But, she may not go into the box just sitting near by. After all that is a foreign hive and if there is brood in it she may not want to challenge the queen that layed those eggs in this foreign hive. Very often she will come out with the remaining bees and form a swarm, bypassing your catcher box.

When using the technique I use, the trap is just another chamber of the feral colony, horizontal rather than vertical. The trap is sealed to the feral source with only one entrance/exit. All bees come through this chamber to get to the outside. This box becomes a part of the feral colony. Same bees, same odor. The introduction of the unsealed brood brings out nurse bees, housekeepers, cleaners and fanners to tend the brood. And, the queen comes into your trap chamber expecting to find another queen, (the one that layed those eggs). When the queen comes out she will likely stay for a while and lay eggs in any available comb to establish her dominance over this chamber which is now part of her brood nest. The entire theory behind this system is to fool the bees and the queen into using your harvester as another brood chamber. That gets you the mix of bees you need, in the correct numbers, (much the same as a good split, or a swarm), to start a new colony, and still not hurt the feral colony. (So long as you do not overtrap, or leave the feral colony queenless and no way to make a queen)

Most important.... You must quit harvesting by early Summer to allow the feral colony to build up bees and stores of honey and pollen for the Winter. And... If you want the queen, only take her in Early Spring so there is a very good chance that there are viable eggs in feral brood nest for them to make themselves a new queen. I prefer to let the queen lay a few eggs in the harvester and let the bees I move, make their queen from one or more of her eggs. I always check the frames I am moving to insure that the queen is not on them. I moved 5 frames out of a trap last month, and the queen was on the 2d frame I inspected. I put her back in the harvester. She had layed 3 frames solid so I let them make a queen from those eggs. They made 13 queen cells and was successful in making a new queen. They are doing great.

Hope this may help some of the new beekeepers that are just starting to trap bees. By doing a few trapouts you can learn a lot about bees.

cchoganjr
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You have all been extremely informational. Thanks for the responses. I'll prepare to trap them next spring.

Thanks again.
 

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The real beauty of the system is by giving the bees a frame with unsealed brood you bring out nurse bees, housekeepers, cleaners, fanners and of course the guard bees. This gives you the right mix of bees to start a new colony, much the same as a swarm has the right mix of bees.

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Hope this may help some of the new beekeepers that are just starting to trap bees. By doing a few trapouts you can learn a lot about bees.

cchoganjr

Cleo, never really thought about the mix of bees you get utilizing your trap-out system and techniques. Makes perfect sense, thanks for the fantastic post, it always makes my day when I learn something new that I can really use.

Don


Don
 

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I have set up a box connected to newly established bee tree hive. They now use it as their entrance/egress. Hopefully they over winter. Then next year I will put in brood and take some bees.

If you have a box connected to the tree hive is there any benefit to feeding in that box prior to winter or leaving mountain camp sugar in it over the winter?

Is there any way to treat a bee tree for varroa when the only entrance is the connecting tube?
 

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I have never attempted to feed a feral colony in a tree. The mere fact that they have survived other Winters would indicate they would not need feeding. I typically remove the harvester when I am finished trapping and just leave the transition on the tree and the tree wrapped so the only entrance is the transition.

I don't think I would leave anything in the harvester if I left it attached, because, If the bees moved back into the tree to cluster, then this box would be unprotected from mice and other tresspassers. As I said above, I normally remove the box and install it very early in the Spring about the time bees start flying.

I am not a fan of treating bees unless you know they need treating. Not sure how you would know if bees in a tree has an abnormally high mite count. Perhaps someone else can answer this one for you.

cchoganjr
 
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