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Discussion Starter #562
Yesterday, I moved another swarm trap from the tree it was on to a bee yard and captured a swarm cluster that was thirty feet up in a tree. I used a four section aluminum pole with a swiveling five gallon bucket on the end. I was at my physical limits. I was using my face mask under my bee veil to keep from getting stung (more) when when my chin touched the fencing style veil screen when I was looking up. I was able to knock about a third of the bees into the bucket and transferred those into a swarm trap on the ground. I put a Qtip with a small amount of lemongrass on one end and Swarm Commander on the other, into the trap. I stirred up the rest of the bees still on the limb as best as I could and left the trap on the ground. The owner said that the rest of the bees swarmed into the box a few minutes after I left. I picked up the box of bees at dusk and put it in a bee yard.

Next planned tasks are to put together some nucs, assemble some foundationless frames, and do a cutout.
 

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Yesterday, I moved another swarm trap from the tree it was on to a bee yard and captured a swarm cluster that was thirty feet up in a tree.

...

Next planned tasks are to put together some nucs, assemble some foundationless frames, and do a cutout.
You are the man, David. If you're not careful, you'll need to get more hired help when the time comes to collect the rent.

I enjoy reading about your exploits.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #565
Today, we assembled foundationless frames, rehung some swarm traps, and had a fun cutout. It was chock full of bees and brood in a relatively accessible (with a prybar and a reciprocating saw) floor space between the 1st and 2nd floors on the outside wall of a townhouse. Good (well behaved, healthy, and prolific) bees; about ten swarm cells. Probably not a mated queen or even a virgin. (We picked up a swarm from the colony two days ago.) Also, saw three more of our swarm traps with bees.
 

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Discussion Starter #568
Where to put swarm traps. We have a lot of success along tree lined bayous and river bottoms where woods transition into fields. Those who “follow the bees” ala Dr. Seeley would know a good bit about how bees navigate between hive and food. Folks do say “beeline” for a reason. Whether bees register potential hive locations while foraging or strategically canvas the area on single purpose scouting missions, or both, I’d like to know.
 

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I'm pondering whether there are any lessons to be learned yet from the pandemic and applied to treatment free beekeeping, or vice versus.
Isolation (i.e. social distancing) seems to be a watchword in both the current pandemic and in TF circles.
 

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Moved a couple of big hives this evening and pulled five more swarm traps with bees off of trees.
You are the man, David. With all these swarms and cutouts you are doing, what is your approximate hive count at now?

If you're not careful, you are going to have to quit your day job and become a full-time beekeeper...
 

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Discussion Starter #573
We generally sell nucs as they become well established, but every year is different, and our time is the biggest variable. This is a different year in a variety of ways. Seeing what the effect of COVID-19 is on the level of interest in bees will be interesting. We’ve been doing a lot of “homesteading” as we call it in my family, this year.
 

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We generally sell nucs as they become well established, but every year is different, and our time is the biggest variable.
Thank you, David. I appreciate your reply, and I apologize for my delay writing back. It has been a hectic couple of weeks in the beeyard and this in addition to my day job makes it hard to find time to get in front of the computer.

If you don't mind me asking, I am curious as to how you go to market with the hived swarm stock? I only recently became aware that this is a 'thing' and that there appears to be a lot of interest out there for hived swarms. As an example, I saw a post on a local Kentucky Beekeeper Facebook page that I follow where a guy was advertising that all his equipment is full and that he has some swarm trap bees for sale- and he was getting a lot of interest.

Further, I find myself dangerously close to the same predicament he is in as I only have three bottom boards left and three or more weeks of swarm season to go here.

Specifically, I assume you might use similar criteria to that of a commercial nuc in that you confirm that you have a laying queen and a good brood pattern and you put a few frames of brood and some stores in a cardboard nuc box and give this to your happy customer in exchange for their money?

Do you tell them that they are 'swarm bees' and if so, does that make a difference to your customers either way?

If my questions are prying, please feel welcome to say so- you won't hurt my feelings.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #576 (Edited)
It’s a hotch potch. We do cutouts, catch swarms in swarm traps, catch swarm clusters, and once in awhile make splits. For all of them, we wait till there is capped brood and good bee count. Depending on when it is in the season, I often don’t know the provenance of a particular nuc. We tell folks that our nucs have capped brood and good population from feral cutouts and trapped swarms and swarm stock. That seems to be what our customers are looking for. Our increase and replacement stock comes from the same bees we sell or the “leftovers”. A number of our customers are repeat or word of mouth and are familiar with our stock and practices. I tell folks that once the bees leave our yard, it’s on them if there is a problem, but I suggest that they let me know if there’s a hitch, and I’ve made a practice of making good on any problems that folks have in the first month or two. That’s good business in the long run. Once or twice, we’ve done a cutout and then sold those bees or another nuc back to the same client that we did the cutout for.
 

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e tell folks that our nucs have capped brood and good population from feral cutouts and trapped swarms and swarm stock. That seems to be what our customers are looking for.
David:

Thank you very much for your reply. As I have considered this over the past several days, this seems to make a whole lot of sense, especially when one considers that there is a market out there for 'mutt' bees- I suppose until recently I hadn't even really considered there be a lot of folks out there looking for 'non-pedigreed' bees.

I do appreciate your help and the good information you share on this forum.

Thanks again for the feedback, and have a great day.

Russ

p.s. I enjoyed the story of you selling the cut-out bees back to the homeowner- at least they appreciated the value of the work and skill required to get them out of there.
 

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Discussion Starter #578
The thought occurred to me that the way we keep bees is not only low maintenance, but also low cost. We don’t feed, so we don’t buy sugar or HFCS. We don’t treat, so no equipment or chemicals. We use foundationless frames in the brood chamber and we use plastic foundation in the honey supers, so no wax foundation, and we reuse the frames in our supers (of course) so we don’t buy plastic foundation anymore. We use wood shavings from our woodworking for smoker fuel, so that’s free.

We built our own bee vac, and built and stockpiled our own hive boxes, bottom boards, inner and outer covers, and bee escapes (largely out of culled lumber and scrap wood). We allow our bees to naturally supersede, so we don’t buy queens or have expenses associated with queen rearing. I’ve started resharpening my reciprocating saw blades myself.

We buy gasoline for our trucks, honey bottles and lids, waxed cardboard nuc boxes, foundationless frames to replace the frames in the nucs we sell, a few ounces of lemongrass oil, the occasional bit of replacement protective clothing, and some Beequick. I’m sure that I’m forgetting a few random expenses, but it’s a pretty low cost operation.
 

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David
You have described my bee keeping almost to a T, except for all that wasteful cost of plastic foundation.:)
Cheers
gww
 
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