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Swarm traps - does anyone have any ideas?

 
Chris McLeod
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Location: Cherokee, Victoria, Australia
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Hey everyone,

I lost my 3 hives here due to the stupid mistake of placing the boxes in the full sun. The last summer just past I had a record extreme heat of 10 days in excess of 40C (104F) - that's in the shade folks.

The hives didn't die, they just all packed up and left and are still happily flying about the farm landing on both me and the flowers (which are available for most days of the year).

Since then, I have been reading up several books on top bar hives and will shortly build a couple and place them in the dappled shade which I reckon the bees will like.

Has anyone got any specific instructions for setting up a swarm trap as I'd really like to not have to buy new colonies? I'd really appreciate any and all help.

Cheers. Chris
 
Ludger Merkens
Posts: 171
Location: Deutschland (germany)
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Hi Chris,

I never heard about bees, leaving their hive alltogether, but perhaps it is due to your extreme situations. If they left, they probably already found a more suitable home themselves. So it is unlikely, you get "your" bees back. Nevertheless, you can of course set up bait hives.
Have a look at "Bait Hives for Honey Bees" by Thomas D. Seeley, Roger A. Morse and Richarf Nowogrodzki.

There is lots of background Information on optimal size, optimal position

There is also a video on Youtube about the swarm decision involved to decide upon a new home. (Your bait box)

good look and think bee
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I too have not heard of mass absconding from multiple hives. It seems more likely that you had some form of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), to have multiple hives disappear so quickly. Most likely suspect is some kind of pesticide poisoning.

Provided bees have some access to water they can do a very good job of managing hive temperature through evaporative cooling. That isn't to say that protecting hives from such extreme conditions isn't a good thing. Reducing stress on the bees is at the least likely to increase honey yield.
 
Chris McLeod
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Location: Cherokee, Victoria, Australia
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Hi Ludger. Sorry an explanation is possibly in order as they didn't just leave their hive. The summer had a few daytime temperatures around 44.5C in the shade. Stupidly, I'd followed local advice and put the hives out in the full sun, which had worked fine in previous years. After three days of those sorts of temperatures (a bit of a record here - global warming). It became so hot the wax was melting in the hives. Lesson learned, put hives in the full or dappled shade here. The colony swarmed, leaving a couple of frames full of bees. I sought further advice as I'd never seen wax melt before and was told to feed the bees immediately as they would be weakened after recent swarming. As it was very hot, I didn't reduce the opening on the box and wouldn't you just know it, robber bees came and destroyed the weakened colonies to get at the sugar syrup.

Anyway, I've since started reading an enormous quantity of books on more natural and organic beekeeping methods and will start a top bar hive next Spring. There are plenty of bees and flowers for the entire year here, but them bees of mine have just gone feral...

Thanks for the link, I was just hoping to get some real world experiences with the swarm traps.

You can see a farm update, if you're interested, at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia website here: http://permaculturenews.org/2014/05/15/fernglade-farm-autumn-update-may-2014-victoria-australia/

Hi Michael. I hope the explanation above assists. I'm a bit embarrassed about it really, because I'd read and been told that the bees could cope with moderating the hive temperature too. So, unlike the chickens (who are in the full shade) the bees were in the full sun. CCD is sort of unknown in Australia as it is the last continent without the varroa mite. It is in New Zealand, so it will get here eventually. There are traps at most of the ports and airports for just this situation, but no systems are perfect. Yeah, the bees didn't cope with the extreme daytime temperatures, so they absconded.

What is worse, is that so far all of the more natural, organic beekeeping books have advised to put the hives in the shade in these sorts of hot conditions. It's a hard way to learn through the loss of your colonies.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Hmmm... sad, but that situation does make more sense.

Bees can regulate temperature up to a point, but they need access to plenty of water near the hive, and forcing them to regulate such extreme temperatures hampers their honey collecting abilities at the very least. The bees are working on air conditioning instead of foraging/brood rearing.

We don't get that kind of heat here, but I have my hives positioned to get full morning sun then dappled shade during the day. They have access to water with 50m.
 
Ludger Merkens
Posts: 171
Location: Deutschland (germany)
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Hi Chris,

sorry to disappoint. But here in germany putting out bait hives is actually prohibited. No hive material may be made accessible to bees, unless there is actually a living bee hive inside. We are allowed to catch a swarm (if the previous owner abandoned it) and have special rights to enter foreign property for this purpose (rarely used this times, most people are happy, if you remove the swarm), but trapping a hive with a bait hive is not allowed. The reason for this, is to prevent bee deseases from spreading. The same rule, forces a bee keeper to close up a collapsed bee hive (to prevend robbing bees from beeing infected). It would probably be difficult for the ever too often bee illiterate veterinary to distinguish such a disease spin from a proper bait hive (with nice smelling used comb as bee attraction).
Put short - no real live experience using bait hives here.

As for the full sun - to my knowledge bees are best kept in semi shade, with sunlight in the morning and nice protection against strong winds. Still it should not be placed in a pool of cold air.

good luck
Ludger
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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The bait lure--several drops of lemongrass oil on a paper towel or rag in a ziplock bag with just the corner open a bit. This is a time-released non overpowering perfume. Just putting a drop or two in there either burns off too fast or is too strong and drives them away.

I have not built boxes, but need to and done research. I am going to build them based on two hive boxes with a couple frames of brood comb placed in the top center and empty frames around it. Basic lid, basic bottom with a way to seal the door for transport. When the trap catches a swarm, close it up at night and move it to where you want the hive and put the boxes into a normal hive configuration. Hang it in a tree where you think a swarm would go.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Ludger Merkens wrote:Hi Chris,

sorry to disappoint. But here in germany putting out bait hives is actually prohibited. No hive material may be made accessible to bees, unless there is actually a living bee hive inside. We are allowed to catch a swarm (if the previous owner abandoned it) and have special rights to enter foreign property for this purpose (rarely used this times, most people are happy, if you remove the swarm), but trapping a hive with a bait hive is not allowed. The reason for this, is to prevent bee deseases from spreading. The same rule, forces a bee keeper to close up a collapsed bee hive (to prevend robbing bees from beeing infected). It would probably be difficult for the ever too often bee illiterate veterinary to distinguish such a disease spin from a proper bait hive (with nice smelling used comb as bee attraction).
Put short - no real live experience using bait hives here.

As for the full sun - to my knowledge bees are best kept in semi shade, with sunlight in the morning and nice protection against strong winds. Still it should not be placed in a pool of cold air.

good luck
Ludger


Wow, that sounds nuts. It is essentially presuming that all colonies are managed and that feral colonies cannot exist as vectors of disease. You can't apply those same restrictions to wild colonies which regularly die out and are recolonised.

If I was after swarms in those circumstances I'd be thinking about "stealth" traps. Plant pots, "bird boxes" in trees. Not your fault if bees take up residence instead of the birds you were hoping for.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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If a deciduous tree isn't handy try building a bee hut, there's a thread on permies about that.

I've got plenty of deciduous trees but decided I'd do better with a hut because we get lots of rain and snow.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I just built a top bar hive and set it in an opening in the trees on my homestead over this winter, I've noticed that there is activity now that spring has sprung. I suppose a swarm came by, noticed the nice living quarters and they simply made the top bar their home. Being allergic to their stings, I don't plan on harvesting any of their winter food supply, just let them have their home and provide all the pollinating services. I talked to one bee keeper last year and he gave me this idea. He said "the function of swarming is to divide a colony that has grown to large for the current hive." Swarms are out actively seeking a place to set up housekeeping, if you provide one, eventually a swarm will locate it.
 
Chris McLeod
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Location: Cherokee, Victoria, Australia
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Hi Michael. Thanks man. I leave water in various spots on the farm for all of the critters that live here. The summers can be hot and dry and the reliable water makes all of the difference to their lives. The local birds all fly in for a drink here and a cleansing bath during summer. There are other water sources set up for the frogs, bees, insects, wallabies, wombats and kangaroos. At night the farm is jumping with wildlife. You are absolutely correct in that I should have put the bee hive in the complete shade (hindsight is a wonderful thing). I'd never read anywhere before that the wax could melt in extreme conditions and my local bee contacts had never seen it before either. Further north (and much hotter again than here) things were much worse.

Hi Ludger. That's not a good situation. I'm happy to have the feral bees as they provide genetic diversity for future colonies. Regulation can be a bit too extreme here too - I've got some stories about that for sure. Fortunately, I live in a remote spot so have a bit more freedoms than other people.

Hi R Scott. Thanks for the suggestion and I'd read about the lemongrass oil. Interesting stuff. I've been watching most of the YouTube videos that I can about the subject. It is interesting that it isn't covered in the books that I've been reading.

Hi Cj Verde. Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. The forest here is evergreen and all of the older trees have hollows which I'd be pretty certain that the bees have set themselves up in. Unfortunately, some of those trees are well above 40m (120ft), so who knows where the bees went as they're still buzzing about the farm. If you check out the farm update link on the earlier comment, you'll see that in the first photo, the big tree to the right of the frame is well above 45m. It hasn't snowed here for 4 years now and winter temperatures just seem to keep increasing. It's not good. Some parts of Australia didn't get enough chilling hours for the fruit trees to set fruit properly.

Hi Bryant. You go dude, well done. There are over 300 fruit trees here and whilst there are native bees and wasps that will pollinate them, nothing beats the European honey bee for those services. Thanks for the advice.
 
Tim Eastham
Posts: 52
Location: USDA Climate Zone 9, Central Florida
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Swarm Traps and Bait Hives book
https://www.createspace.com/3631331

He has a youtube channel with great info too.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCndWYkPK3h04-69TmN_ZcNw
 
Rob Browne
Posts: 65
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
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Chris,

To handle those temperatures we keep a Warre type quilt on top of our hives as insulation and have reflective roofs that overhang the sides so the actual hive is shaded in the hot weather. Got us through the bad time in January.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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