Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

101 - 120 of 151 Posts

·
Super Moderator
Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
Joined
·
5,802 Posts
While it is disappointing that your catch rate has dropped significantly, you were able to take advantage of the situation at the time and grow an apiary faster than most could even imagine. What is your hive count at present?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,759 Posts
So far, in 2020, we only caught 10-15 swarms. This is by far the lowest numbers we have seen in years. I am wondering if it has something to do with the drought [Jan-Feb in our area was the lowest amount of rainfall in written history].

Some of the swarms were so small, I didn't even try to house them...just left them be.

We normally only place traps on our property and on rare occasion, in a nearby city.

This is a far cry from the year we were catching 5-10 swarms per day for a week or two, and totals of well over 50 per season. I remember years when massive swarms would land everywhere...on the ground, on the fence, in the traps, on tree limbs, etc. I remember the biggest challenge we had was we did not have enough boxes to house all the swarms and had to let them go!

We have done nothing different so it is not us...but I think it may have to do with the fact a large scale beekeeper nearby is no longer in business.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the 2-3 years of outrageous swarm catches were coming from a large scale bee operation nearby that was winding down...but then again...this year we also tested a new place where there are 5 large honeybee operations. I placed nearly 10 traps, convinced we were gonna catch 20+ within a couple of weeks...guess what? Only caught one swarm in two months! Really strange...sometimes I think I may never understand honeybees...

Swarm season here is pretty much over...

Good luck to everyone else still in swarm season!
well you do need a source, if the commercial has gone then you may be in for an adjustment.

So the small ones, some of his many swarms may have found homes, smaller cavities.
If it is a swarm , I would still try to get it, maybe put them in a NUC.

10 swarms is still better than some/many, I am at 3 likely to be 5 or less for the year. is "normal" for here.

Maybe look for another commercial operation and try some trapping neer there.

GG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,044 Posts
Discussion Starter #103
I am becoming more and more convinced that the 2-3 years of outrageous swarm catches were coming from a large scale bee operation nearby that was winding down...but then again...this year we also tested a new place where there are 5 large honeybee operations.
I made my theory known on the source of your swarms.
Yes it was a large operation and it was different in certain ways.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
904 Posts
While it is disappointing that your catch rate has dropped significantly, you were able to take advantage of the situation at the time and grow an apiary faster than most could even imagine. What is your hive count at present?
JW, yes, you are totally right in this matter. We went from one colony up past 200 in no time at all. Many, many of the swarms were monster swarms that could be split into 5 nucs. Then, JRG came over to our place and showed us how to do splits. Finally, we learned how to do the queen grafting, so our growth rate went off the charts. If we had sufficient wood-ware built [tops, bottoms, boxes and frames] I think we could have been well over 500 colonies. Two of those years we rapidly ran out of the wood-ware and simply had to stop catching the swarms!

Our count at present? Well, I am painfully embarrassed to admit it! We began to experience horrific set backs, one after another:

1. Two years ago, a "professional" beekeeper [not JRG] came over and gave us this chemical from Mexico that was suppose to kill the mites...[Bovitraz]. Applied it exactly according to instructions and it either killed or severely damaged half of our bee colonies. I've never used it again. Now we only use the Oxivap and it is incredibly effective and doesn't hurt the honeybees.

2. Last year, we built up to 200+ colonies again...then, we lost 98%! We could not figure it out until too late. The symptoms: nearly every colony began to slowly decrease in numbers until not one bee was left, but massive honey and pollen and comb left in each box...we finally discovered it was yellowjacket subterranean wasps killing our queens throughout the winter. We have always had a challenge with these wasps and they have nearly always been in the colonies, but last year there were thousands upon thousands of them and we did not connect the dots until losing 196 colonies out of 200. We were thinking it was poison at the time.

3. This year, we went from 4 colonies up to 126 in a three month period. BUT, in the last 4 weeks, we have lost about 42 of them. This time to either starvation or robbing [no flow at all for 4 weeks now]. Presently I am mixing and installing gallon after gallon of sugar syrup as well as pollen sub and the loss rate had decreased radically. So today we stand about 85 colonies. We are hoping for the star thistle to bloom now, but if not, then we are probably doomed to lose more or continue to feed like crazy. I place half gallon bottles of sugar syrup twice a week, but after 1-2 weeks, they eat it all.

4. Another large yard I set up kept experiencing dwindling bee numbers for two years. Finally discovered though using a game trail camera it was large numbers of skunks raiding the yard, eating bees every night.

5. Finally, one year, with all our colonies in the almond orchards, a local rancher next to the almond orchard decided to spray round up on the fiercely blooming nearby mustard plants. After removing the bees after the almond bloom, nearly every colony weakened or died.

6. Some knuckle head, non-English speakers, set up a large bee yard a couple of hundred yards away from us last year, and his bees have robbed out many of our nucs.

So, $30,000 later and with lots of blood, sweat, tears and stings, I have really gotten my but kicked severely and repeatedly and now I am not so sure I should have gotten so deeply into this adventure.

My end goal was to run a pollination company with 1,000 colonies, then take the $250,000 proceeds and begin to create orphanages and schools in India and Nepal. Now my dream is utterly, nearly totally crushed.

well you do need a source, if the commercial has gone then you may be in for an adjustment.

So the small ones, some of his many swarms may have found homes, smaller cavities.
If it is a swarm , I would still try to get it, maybe put them in a NUC.

10 swarms is still better than some/many, I am at 3 likely to be 5 or less for the year. is "normal" for here.

Maybe look for another commercial operation and try some trapping neer there.

GG
GG, we are thankful for all bees we have caught...just wish we didn't lose some many. Yes, I hear you on the small swarms. JRG came over last week and immediately recognized a small swarm [he even pointed out the queen to me]. The guy is amazing. I did not put them in a nuc box even though we have nearly 100 nuc boxes ready to go. With the robbing and everything, I simply did not think they could survive. I did take 10 swarm traps a few miles away to were there are 5 large bee operations. Only caught one swarm and I gave it to the property owner that let me place the traps. I did not take them over until May. Next year, we may take some over in March.

I made my theory known on the source of your swarms.
Yes it was a large operation and it was different in certain ways.
I am still not sure, but some people have told me the beekeeper in question had well over 10,000 colonies...so yeah, that was probably it!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,044 Posts
Discussion Starter #105
We have always had a challenge with these wasps and they have nearly always been in the colonies, but last year there were thousands upon thousands of them and we did not connect the dots until losing 196 colonies out of 200. We were thinking it was poison at the time.

3. This year, we went from 4 colonies up to 126 in a three month period. BUT, in the last 4 weeks, we have lost about 42 of them.

I am still not sure, but some people have told me the beekeeper in question had well over 10,000 colonies...so yeah, that was probably it!
Soar,

Sorry to hear.
Easy come - easy go.
Same with me, but not in the hundreds, of course.

I doubt very much that the YJs killed off 196/200 units.
No way.
YJs can not take down a healthy strong colony (they can and will finish off a weak colony - that is true).
Look elsewhere.

If anything, I will say that you had a high concentration of highly mite-infested commercial swarms originating from (mis/un)-managed and highly concentrated source aka a dump-yard, as was proposed.

That alone could do you in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
904 Posts
Soar,

Sorry to hear.
Easy come - easy go.
Same with me, but not in the hundreds, of course.

I doubt very much that the YJs killed off 196/200 units.
No way.
YJs can not take down a healthy strong colony (they can and will finish off a weak colony - that is true).
Look elsewhere.

If anything, I will say that you had a high concentration of highly mite-infested commercial swarms originating from (mis/un)-managed and highly concentrated source aka a dump-yard, as was proposed.

That alone could do you in.
Greg,

Our mite counts last year were nearly zero. We meticulously treated every colony with Oxivap every 5th day for a total of 4 treatments and afterward, couldn't find a single mite.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,044 Posts
Discussion Starter #107
Greg,

Our mite counts last year were nearly zero. We meticulously treated every colony with Oxivap every 5th day for a total of 4 treatments and afterward, couldn't find a single mite.
Wow; then this is a very strange case.
Of course, you and I have similar mortality.

Still, not likely the YJs.
If you are next to intensively managed ag, it could be pesticide pressure too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,871 Posts
Soar,what bad luck,but sounds like you are on top of it again. I caught one swarm this year in the one trap I put out. It's just for fun and observation and learning,but I was excited to get one. A side benefit for me is to get some comb drawn. After that,giving the swarm away. J
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
904 Posts
Here's a pic of one of our nuc yards.

And I included a pic of the swarm in a nearby city where I got burned after my smoker lit my truck on fire!

I am hoping to have much better success in the future. I tried to sell out this year, but it just did not feel right....so I am waiting one more year...

Funny thing is we only purchased one colony [years ago], and I think it failed, so all our bees are from local swarms.

Beautiful thing about it is some colonies have bees that are incredibly bright yellow, others are black like Carniolians, others are mixed.

This year, we did try grafting some cells from one of my friend's $1000 Caucasian queen. The Caucasian honeybee is very, very different than our honeybees and exhibit some really strange peculiarities:

1. Super black in color.
2. The darn queen looks like a black armored vehicle [am I am not joking]. I have never seen anything even remotely like it.
3. The propolis is absolutely insane [as in 5-10 times more bee glue that anything we have ever seen].
4. They are suppose to bring in most of the honey/pollen during the late summer.

Most of our grafts come from our strongest colonies that exhibit the best traits.

9.jpg 10.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,044 Posts
Discussion Starter #111
The Caucasian honeybee is very, very different than our honeybees and exhibit some really strange peculiarities:

1. Super black in color.
2. The darn queen looks like a black armored vehicle [am I am not joking]. I have never seen anything even remotely like it.
3. The propolis is absolutely insane [as in 5-10 times more bee glue that anything we have ever seen].
4. They are suppose to bring in most of the honey/pollen during the late summer.
1-3 points read like classic Gray Caucasian bee.
Unsure if #4 is true; rather it depends.

Where they are imported from - these bees are best working the weak and continuous flow (good at switching between sources).
So they are always finding something to pile on, where the Russians may not find much.
But the Russians may exploit the short and strong flow better.
#4 will depend on what your late summer is about.

PS: gotta tell, your nuc yard looks like a desert location, for bad or good;
where I am now is lush greenery and bloom is everywhere (and tropical T-Storms are daily).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,044 Posts
Discussion Starter #112

·
Registered
Joined
·
904 Posts
1-3 points read like classic Gray Caucasian bee.
Unsure if #4 is true; rather it depends.

Where they are imported from - these bees are best working the weak and continuous flow (good at switching between sources).
So they are always finding something to pile on, where the Russians may not find much.
But the Russians may exploit the short and strong flow better.
#4 will depend on what your late summer is about.

PS: gotta tell, your nuc yard looks like a desert location, for bad or good;
where I am now is lush greenery and bloom is everywhere (and tropical T-Storms are daily).
Greg,

I took our tractor and leveled and prepared this nuc yard area 3 months ago. Now I actually regret making the nuc yard in that location:

1. We have irrigated pasture nearby with afternoon shade and that would have worked MUCH better! Problem was our sheep kept knocking colonies over [they like to use the boxes and stands to scratch their back].
2. Much less human traffic there, so more prone to predators such as skunks, etc. I keep seeing a red tailed fox out there nearly every morning...but don't think he is eating bees.
3. Temps are much greater [20+ F] compared to the irrigated pasture with the afternoon shade.
4. Three years ago I cut down a large 120 ft. tall 4ft diameter eucalyptus tree that would have provided perfect afternoon shade in this location. At the time, I wanted full sun for full size boxes...now I realize it was a mistake!

Not to worry...we are presently in the final stages of negotiating a piece of property that is surrounded most of the year with blooming alfalfa on two sides, corn on one side, and a large vegetable farm on the other side. Best of all, a year round creek that will provide the water is less that a mile away. If everything works according to the plans, we will begin moving the colonies in July. We are hoping it will be a game changer for the honeybees.

PS I sure will miss the eucalyptus trees! Presently we are surrounded by euc forest...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
I have seven traps. Yesterday I caught two swarms in the same traps that I previously caught swarms in. That makes a total of four swarms that I trapped one one swarm that my came off of one of my neighbors hives. I would have never thought trapping bees were so much fun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
904 Posts
I have seven traps. Yesterday I caught two swarms in the same traps that I previously caught swarms in. That makes a total of four swarms that I trapped one one swarm that my came off of one of my neighbors hives. I would have never thought trapping bees were so much fun.
gwb,

Please show us some pics!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,044 Posts
Discussion Starter #119
Am still 6 for 8.

At least in a couple of places there are scouts that settled in them for good (but no swarm).
So, this is a pretty typical case that I see.
It feels as if few scouts really do commit to the trap but the swarm never arrives (most likely got intercepted).
And so these lost bees just stay there and guard the trap for themselves.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,044 Posts
Discussion Starter #120
Twice over the last two weeks now I was expecting a backyard swarm to land.
And it did not happen.
Someone somewhere is getting better at capturing their own swarms.
:)
 
101 - 120 of 151 Posts
Top