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How to catch feral bees?

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snoop 

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I am a new bee keeper & am having difficulty locating a nuc for 2010. Due to the inclement weather in 2009 the beekeeping association couldn't supply last years new beginners with nucs ( which means that the October 2009 class will probably not get anything until Autumn 2010 if they are lucky) so I was thinking of putting up a few boxes to see if I can catch a feral swarm in 2010. Where would you locate a box & what would you bait it with? I live in the country , there appears to be plenty of bees, willow, sycamore, ash, horse chestnut trees all nearby. My nearest neighbour is over 1/2 a mile away with farm land all round. I know the local farmers don't keep bees ( I have asked them), yet last summer there seemed to be plenty of bees out & about. Its a rural location. Suggestions please.
 
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You need to get some old comb, the blacker the better, see what you can scrounge from other beekeepers.

You can buy swarm lures, I have an aerosol spray called Charme, although I've not caught anything with it so far. Lemon grass is supposed to be good too.

You just set up a bait hive using an old brood box with a floor and roof and the old comb sprayed with lure (or not - old comb is sometimes lure enough)

Finman posted an excellent link once for making and siteing bait hives, but I think you need to be fairly near colonies of bees to hope to get anything. Although they will travel some distance sometimes they only travel a few feet :)

Frisbee
 
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victor meldrew 

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Citronella oil is good for sending bees bananas :svengo:.

John Wilkinson
 

victor meldrew 

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Yep, save the citronella for driving wasps away from your picnic :hat:

John Wilkinson
 

oliver90owner 

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Adding to that above.

Try to set up your bait hives a couple metres from the ground.

Only leave a smallish entrance - the full width of a hive is not what you want. 50mm x 20mm is large enough.

Swarms will not normally just go a few feet - they will if really good accommodation is available (a well presented hive) and it is better than any other available within a good distance, as the norm would be to disperse the species and not to compete with the food resources of the 'mother' colony.

I would be baiting on the farmland (with permission) as far away as I could reasonably spread the boxes.

Pick south facing, sheltered sites with shade from the hottest sun rays if possible.

Do not be tempted to bait with honey - it may well be robbed out, and can easily spread disease to a large area in short time.

If there are bees foraging, you are close enough to attract a swarm.

There will be lots of nucs available early in the year - you just need to get your name on a list (with a small down-payment to demonstrate goodwill).

There are numerous importers, although that is not the way I would want to go.

Bear in mind that any nuc you purchase could be a freshly imported queen with bees from an apiary, so you need to know it's provenance.

Package bees is another alternative, but perhaps not for a beginner.

If/when you get a feral colony, keep it 'quarantined' until you are sure it is not a disease risk.

Probably more to come as I think about it more.

Regards, RAB
 

snoop 

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I am living in Ireland so importing a package is out of the question and the 2010 nucs are already booked by the 2008 October newbees, so bait hives are the only chance I have of getting swarm in the next 12 months. We have had 3 years of really bad summers here ( hopefully not 4 in a row). There were 53 new people signing up to the beginners bee keeping course here ( locally) between drop outs thats 40 - 80 nuc required. Its not going to happen . Would lemon grass essential oil be the same as the lemon grass mentioned in the above post ?
Quarantine is not issue , getting bees is. We haven't or cannot get any. ( permission from the land owner is not a problem 400 acres available to me just pick the spot I want for the bait hives, I just need a few colonies of bees & having spoken to the farmers in the adjoining property no problem work away, we are a very close knit community all seem in favour just go get the bees ) A number have said straight out if I get them I can out them onto their property they would be happy to have them. ( but that is a lot further down the road) There are certain crops that need pollination & and some of the old timers in our area used to do cut comb (since deceased) , & the adjoining land owners I spoke to would not mind getting some comb again was the general response I got. The must have been raised on it .

In the mean time I need to figure out how to get some of feral bees in the area into a hive so we can start out. All help greatly appreciated.

So far I have got 6 frames of drawn comb from a bee keeper scaling back with a brood body. I can put nuc boxes together but am asking what trees do swarms usually head to in UK & Ireland ( same climate in the south ) & what do I use to entice a swarm
 
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oliver90owner 

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asking what trees do swarms usually head to

Position, location, size, opening, contents, lures.

All been covered above, I think.

As high as practicable, as widely spread as possible, nuc size at least but no more than a brood body, one or more frames of old comb and swarm lures. What else do you want?

Bees do not head for any particular tree; they send out scouts to locate all and every option for a new dwelling and decide where to go when the scouts report back to the swarm cluster.

Historically bees have lived in forests, so holes in trees, any suitable hole - size, dry, warm (no draughts), defendable, forage, etc would be a prime target to check out. If they got it wrong they would be doomed (too small, damp, cold, undefendable, insufficient forage, etc). Only about one in four swarms would be successfull, one year on. You should be able to ensure any that take up residence have a much better chance than that.

permission from the land owner is not a problem 400 acres available to me just pick the spot I want

Don't start running until you can walk! I made no mention of out-apiaries! You just need several enticing opportunities over a large area (to improve your chances) of any swarm(s) choosing to take up residence in any of your offerings to them. Only when you have bees, and increase your colony number, would you wish to put them on farmer's land. Likely a couple of years or more, before that happens.

Hope that makes it clear.

Regards, RAB
 

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American research suggested that 40 litres volume (Langstroth) and 20 ft up was the preferred option.

A good old comb in a previously used hive is about the most effective bait I have found.

PH
 

MJBee 

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As PH said, 20' up is recommended but I think a bit impractical in your case. If you can manage to get your bait hive(s) up to 6' off the ground that should do.
I see you have 6 drawn frames - they could make up to 6 bait hives. Beg borrow or make 6 brood boxes, floors and roofs. Put the drawn frame in the center with frames of foundation either side. Spread the hives over the area you have, siting them as previously described, from the first week in April. Add 1 drop of lemon grass oil at the entrance and refresh weekly. I would check the hives every evening but every other evening would be OK.

During the "swarm season" - May, June, July - you may notice a few bees checking the hives out, these are the scouts - that's when you cross your fingers and pray real hard:):)
:cheers2: Mike
 

admin 

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As Mike says,a brood box.
Many make the mistake of using a box thats Nuc box size,its to small!
Would you choose a studeo flat rather than a 5 bed house to move into?
 

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Anyone used Thornes swarm lure and if so is it any good?
 
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I bought some and really can't comment on how good it is, it has to be kept in the freezer...........and that's where mine still is somwhere deep in the furthest recesses :confused: It was also quite expensive.

I now have "Charme" an aerosol from whoever used to be Exeter BKS. I have used that but failed to catch anything, but that may be because there were non around to catch. My own started swarming so much I needed all the bait hives back.......:hat:

Frisbee
 

snoop 

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Thanks lads , this is going to keep me busy for a while.
 

Black Comb 

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Are solid floors best for bait hives?
Of course I ask this because I have some spare.
 

oliver90owner 

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Solid floors

I would go that way.

Thornes swarm lure

Can't say it doesn't. Tried it last year and 2 hives (of three) were occupied soon after. But there were a lot of swarms about last year. One lot changed their minds and were replaced by another a couple of weeks later.

My policy, after last year, will be to move any colony caught, as soon as I find it in residence, by three miles. Leave closed up for a day or so, then feed, and add a frame of open brood. Less likely to abscond. You would probably not have any brood available until you get a colony and confirm it's healthiness.

I will be trying nucs next year - but 14 X 12 (and supered as well) so about the same size as a National Brood. Lighter/easier to cart around and available at the time (we shall see.... but may need to knock up some more).

Regards, RAB
 

admin 

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Why close up 090,Just put a QE under the brood box for a few days until they start feeding and drawing comb.
 

oliver90owner 

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You are so right, Admin. Don't often have Q/Es with them, so did't think of that option. Was right 'naffed off' when they left last year.

Regards, RAB
 

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