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2017 Bee hive swarm information, history, lessons, successes, etc.

Discussion in 'Bee Swarms, Bee Behavior, & Bee Queens' started by soarwitheagles, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. Jan 29, 2017
    soarwitheagles

    soarwitheagles Loving the herd life

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    Hi everyone!

    Happy 2017 to all! Hope all your bees are buzzing and healthy.

    I have decided to keep a 2017 beehive swarm log.

    Last year was the very first time we tried our hand at catching swarms. We did OK, but did not get a start until May if I remember correctly. I was reading that in our area, swarms normally begin in February. So today, 01.29.2017, we began the adventure.

    First, I would like to post about a huge mistake I have already made...I decided to leave all our hive swarm traps up in their trees though out our long and wet winter. The first swarm trap I took down was very exciting...it felt as if it had 50+ lbs of honey in it! Wow! I could barely lift it off the tree mount. I eagerly unscrewed the top, and opened it up, my mouth watering as I imagined all that honey...

    Well, much to my dismay, it was not 50lbs of honey. It was an accumulation of a couple of gallons of water that must have leaked inside during our unusually wet winter...the frames were slimy as can be, everything was water logged, and my dream of eating 50 lbs of honey, teaspoon by teaspoon was utterly crushed! Instead, I felt like puking after smelling all the slime and yucky stuff on the inside...Nothing like a strong humbling before the season starts!

    Lesson learned:
    Never leave swarm traps up in the tree during a wet winter! Instead, store them in a dry place.

    I reluctantly took down other swarm traps that were left up all winter...and found better news...no water, and everything looked good on the inside.

    I have decided to place the water logged swarm trap in a heated room for a few days in the hope of using it once it is dried out.

    I set two swarm traps today using the following procedures:

    1. Inspected the trap.
    2. Added some super old and super dark old comb.
    3. Sprayed 3 whiffs of Swarm Commander on the inside of the top of the lid, and two whiffs on the front entrance.
    4. Remounted the swarm traps 10ft. up in trees.

    My plan for the next few days is this:

    1. Hopefully make another 5, 10, or 15 new traps.
    2. Mount another 5, 10, or 15 new traps.
    3. Daily inspect each of the traps.
    4. Hopefully, begin to catch bee swarms and transfer them into real hive boxes.
    5. Live happily ever after with more beehives.

    Hope it works!

    I will do my best to post our progress!

    Happy swarm catching to all!

    Trap 1.JPG Trap 2.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
  2. Jan 29, 2017
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    OK, I have to ask... I have a lot of empty hive boxes right now, I think I have about 12 deeps. So instead of building traps can I use those?
     
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  3. Jan 29, 2017
    soarwitheagles

    soarwitheagles Loving the herd life

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    Wow, you sure reply fast babs!

    Yes, in fact, both of those traps are modified deeps. Here is what I did:

    1. Cut a 3/8" plywood bottom and lid.
    2. Drill a 2" hole on the front of the box and staple 1/2" hardware wire on the inside [keeps the birds and bats out, but allows the bees in].
    3. Attach a 2"x4"x24" stud on the backside, then drill a 1" hole about 3-4 inches from the top of the stud.
    4. Add some old frames [I use 4], and if possible, some dark comb [DO NOT add any honey or pollen, otherwise, you invite robbing].
    5. I add screws to the inside of the slotted tops to keep the 4 frames from moving.
    6. Add your lure scent [many recommend two sprays on the top inside, and two sprays on your landing board our outside near the hole].
    7. Screw on your top and bottom and hang that baby 8-10 ft. up in a tree, facing south.

    I simply pound in one of the large 12 inch by 1/2"" nails in the tree and am good to go. Others use straps or wires to attach. But I like the large nails because I can simply lift the swarm trap right off the nail, yet have never had a swarm trap fall before because I angle the nail slightly upward.

    Hope you can give this a try and I hope you catch a lot!

    PS I am presently using Swarm Commander [but I do not recommend it as it is quite expensive]. I just ordered two other types of lure scents from Ebay. I will post regarding which one is most effective for us in this location...

    Here's the other two scents I purchased this evening:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Bee-Bait-Sw...158508?hash=item4d4449a3ac:g:qQsAAOSwX~dWksLk

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Honeybee-Sw...616824?hash=item1a061b8638:g:PSQAAOSw-7RVGBKB

    Swarm Commander.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
  4. Jan 29, 2017
    Maggiesdad

    Maggiesdad Loving the herd life

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    Sure thing babs! Having a box that already smells like home is a plus.
     
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  5. Jan 29, 2017
    Latestarter

    Latestarter Novice; "Practicing" Animal Husbandry Golden Herd Member

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    Advantage to using a deep is that when you take it down you can place it where you want it to stay and after they're all settled, open it and put the missing frames back in around the center frames.
     
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  6. Jan 30, 2017
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    @soarwitheagles, so you hang it like a picture frame? You use the hole in the 2x4 stud for hanging? How far apart do I need to hang these? I am still scoping out trees that we can access easily.
     
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  7. Jan 31, 2017
    soarwitheagles

    soarwitheagles Loving the herd life

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    Totally right Latestarter! Wanna know what freaked me out the most in using a real ten frame deep? The idea of drilling a 2" diameter hole in the front wall. Then I realized I can simply add a ripped 1"x2.5" board and it works as a handle AND covers the hole all in one!

    Yes, the 2"x4"x24" is attached to the backside of the super deep box. Then you drill a 1" hole a couple of inches from the top, and that hole is where the nail goes through into the tree. So yes, it is like hanging a picture frame. Some complain about too much movement...super easy to alleviate that...simply allow the 2"x4" to hang an inch or two below the box, and screw that into the trunk of the tree if you so desire. I have never had a problem with my bait boxes moving much to be honest with you. I will do my best to take a pic for you in the next few days.

    Regarding spacing...I have placed one trap 50-100 ft. away from our apiary. Then another trap 200 ft. away. Finally, another trap is over 300 ft. away. I would like to place many more traps...some as far away as 2-3 miles. I would like to also mount a number of traps further back in our forest. For me, the more the merrier!

    I know of other people who paint their traps camouflage and then mount them on trees on public property. If you paint them right [according to their background] they can be darn near impossible to see them unless you are a trained special forces sniper and you are actually looking for them with special glasses or binos...
     
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  8. Jan 31, 2017
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    If we get the land next to us...still waiting...I will have some more trees to use. Last year my own swarms went to my cherry tree twice but the tree isn't big enough to actually put a box in so I will look for some mighty oaks that I don't mind pounding nails in. I don't think my cherry tree would very happy with that. I have a neighbor about 1/8 of miles away with about 10-15 hives in his yard so maybe some bees will come my way. :) I think a ratcheting strap around the box would help with any possible movement too and would still make it easy to get them down. Now to get some bait ordered.

    I saw bees here this weekend that were being quite interested in my cedar boards I was cutting and also in my glue. I kept chasing them away as I didn't want them to get glue on them. My husband had one pestering him too and he noticed that it's pollen baskets were full. I have NO idea what they found to collect right now. I have seen nothing in bloom, or even close, except a few buttercups which they don't even seem to like. I have read that the first tree for pollen is Alder, but none of those around here, at least none that I have seen.
     
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  9. Feb 1, 2017
    soarwitheagles

    soarwitheagles Loving the herd life

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    Hi Babs!

    I just realized in my first posted picture on this thread you can actually see the 2x4x24 with the hole drilled at the top and with the 12 inch nail running through the hole and into the tree. So no need to post another pic for now.

    Yes, I certainly would be careful about mounting a heavy box in a small cherry tree. People also make super lightweight traps made out of durable fiber material. I think they are less than $25 and you can find them here:

    https://www.kelleybees.com/Shop/20/Queens-Bees/Traps/4012/Swarm-Trap

    Only drawback I see is they only last a couple of seasons...

    Another option is to put in a post and mount your trap to the post.

    I would not say mounting the traps at 8-10 ft. is written in stone. I have read about other people catching lots of swarms at under 6 ft. But the majority of posts and threads and books that I have read state that mounting the trap 8-10 ft. up appears to be most successful for them.

    I too am seeing bees returning with the pollen sacs on their legs completely filled. I am not certain, but I think it is due to all the wild mustard [yellow flowers] and several other varieties of wild flowers in a decent bloom here right now.

    UPDATE: I have not seen even one scout bee checking out our swarm traps...so far, nada, and the rain is scheduled to begin again tomorrow!
     
  10. Feb 1, 2017
    babsbag

    babsbag Herd Master

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    I saw mustard in the Sacramento last week and today so that would make sense. No mustard here yet. When I cut weeds in the spring and summer I am selective and always try to leave the mustard and radish plants. I draw the line at star thistle. Also, the mustard does attract Harlequin bugs so I do have to remove it from the garden area; I made the mistake of leaving it once. :th
     
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