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Inside out beehive?

 
Ed Sitko
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Location: Bitterroot
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Sharing this photo taken recently near Lancing Michigan

"Just thought you all might be interested in this. I discovered this in Anderson park down along the Grand River near us. If you look closely, there is a hole in the tree above the honey comb. So, maybe the hollow in the tree is full, and they moved their hive outside. But, you can see the bees between the layers of honey comb. When it warms up, the bees become more active and cover more of the comb. When it cools down, they pull up more tightly between the layers."

Beekeepers - can you offer any theories on this bee-haviour ?

 
Chadwick Holmes
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When I lived in Florida I regularly saw this type of hive, but with no hole.......wasn't till I moved here that I saw one in a trunk, that's not to say they don't exist down there but.....I saw 20-30 like that.
 
Ian Mack
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Very strange. If you were a bit farther south I could see this happening, especially in humid areas. One of the big issues for bee hives in warm climates is humidity building up and causing fungal or bacterial growth inside the hive. Building a nice open comb like that would allow much more circulation and prevent that sort of thing from happening for the most part. In an area with few to no bee-predators, that might work well.
But in Michigan and Pennsylvania? Plenty of bears and robber flies in those areas, I'm sure, and generally not the warmest places either. Mark me down as stumped.
 
Victor Johanson
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Chadwick Holmes wrote:When I lived in Florida I regularly saw this type of hive, but with no hole.......wasn't till I moved here that I saw one in a trunk, that's not to say they don't exist down there but.....I saw 20-30 like that.


I grew up in Florida, and we found an abandoned one like that up in a live oak tree when we were kids. First we thought it was an old wasp's nest, but we melted the wax down in a coffee can.
 
Michael Newby
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When I younger living in Boise, ID, I came across a hive like this on the bottom of the press box for the football field at one of the high schools. It was probably 6-8 combs with the biggest one being around 18 inches across, maybe 12 inches tall. We ended up knocking down one of the combs and having ourselves a nice little treat.
 
David Livingston
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It was a wild hive like this that provided the inspiration for the sun hive .http://www.naturalbeekeepingtrust.org/sun-hive-biodynamic-initiative-0
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Nice bees showing us the way they work!
This seems to be normal in (sub)tropical regions ... maybe it's because of the 'climate change' they start doing it in more northern regions too ....
 
Fran Freeman
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Ed Sitko wrote:Sharing this photo taken recently near Lancing Michigan

"Just thought you all might be interested in this. I discovered this in Anderson park down along the Grand River near us. If you look closely, there is a hole in the tree above the honey comb. So, maybe the hollow in the tree is full, and they moved their hive outside. But, you can see the bees between the layers of honey comb. When it warms up, the bees become more active and cover more of the comb. When it cools down, they pull up more tightly between the layers."

Beekeepers - can you offer any theories on this bee-haviour ?



Happens occasionally up in Ontario, Canada also. Looks like the colony became overpopulous (hard to expand when you're living in a tree), swarmed and ran out of time to find a new home so they began building comb where they were hanging. Normal honey bee behaviour inside the hive is to cluster when temperatures start to drop as they do this time of year. This is the contraction you see when it is chilly. The cluster surrounds the queen and 'shivers' to generate heat---hard to do when you are living outside. At a low enough temperature they experience chill torpor and are not able to move around. This colony is unlikely to survive the winter without some kind of housing. Can you or a beekeeping friend carefully remove the combs with the bees--and paying particular attention to get the queen--and place them in frames in a hive box? Combs can be held in place with elastics. The bees may not have sufficient food stores to get them through the winter but a beekeeper would know how to supplement. As an urban beekeeper managing my bees with organic and sustainable practices, my preference would be raw, AFB-free honey but sugar fondant can prevent starvation in a pinch. As feral bees, these ones have the potential to be particularly disease-resistant and are worth saving.
 
Richard Winkel
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Sometimes honeybees make bad decisions. Nature can be a bit cruel at times like that. Watch through the winter to see what happens.
 
Timothy Ettridge
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Maybe it's a Florida thing. This hive was under a friend's deck near Leesburg, Florida for seven years. When his wife said enough was enough and it had to go, I harvested it into a Warré hive and had it in my apiary for just over a year. Normally robust, it faded away just this last summer (I never harvested any honey from it in the 14 months I had it). I'm wondering if being high over a cement floor had protected it for its seven years of existence from Small Hive Beetles (whose larvae develop in sandy soil beneath the hive) but my putting it into a standard apiary setting of only 18" off the ground sealed its doom. Hard to tell.

As for the original question, I'd think it was either a swarm who, like the one that started this hive, decided being outside was good enough (the tree must have provided enough rain protection) or, as mentioned elsewhere, it was a swarm that just couldn't wait any longer to find a home.

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under deck hive
 
Mike Turner
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It looks like those bees have reverted to an ancestral behavior pattern. The genus Apis evolved in southeast Asia where most of today's species can be found and the bee species in that region build combs outdoors under tree branches and cliff overhangs (and buildings). As Apis species gradually spread into dryer, colder, and less humid regions, they moved their combs into hollow trees where it is easier to maintain an environment closer to that of the original SE Asian jungle home.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Here is the Bible description of of such nests. 1 Samuel 14:25
 
David Livingston
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Or you could try Sura 16:68

 
Michael Cox
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Open air hives are quite common, however in colder climates they don't usually survive the winter or a big storm. I have personally hived two of these, and seen another large one. Unfortunately the larger one was a long way from home so I left it Bee.

Usually bees prefer a cavity, but sometimes they can be trapped in their initial swarm location by bad weather for a few days. When that happens they will start building comb and if it gets as far as the queen starting to lay then they are effectively trapped by the brood.

In the picture in this thread the bright yellow comb colour suggests that they have not been there long - perhaps a month or so.
 
Eileen Daniels
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I recently helped Max, a friend that does bee removals professionally, remove and relocate 2 outdoor hives to my home. The bigger colony did not stay in their new super more than a couple of days. the smaller colony has stayed in the super I provided for them. Both hives were located under a tree limb as to give them protection from the rain. I live in So CA (zone and it was Max's opinion that the bees that live in outdoor hives will have a hard time making it through the winter.
 
Jean-Jacques Maury
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Hi Ed,
what a beautiful picture. I wish I were closer to investigate why they migrated outside. Building comb outside in itself is nothing unusual but there must be something interesting about that tree cavity. Have you returned to the site?
 
Jean-Jacques Maury
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Richard Winkel wrote:Sometimes honeybees make bad decisions. Nature can be a bit cruel at times like that. Watch through the winter to see what happens.

In what way would that be a bad decision?
 
jacob wustner
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I have seen similar things in commercial beekeeper's yards. Usually it happens on a very strong honey flow, they build comb on the outside underneath the pallet. I agree that it could have been a swarm that didn't make it far from the colony for whatever reason. But I also thought it could be because they were on such a strong honey flow, and because their genetics may come from a commercial beekeeper, they just did this because they needed more room for honey storage and maybe brood production. It would be interesting to know if there was brood in the middle of those outside combs. Since most beekeepers use a mediterranean honey bee, they don't necessarily display the characteristics of a honey bee more adapted to a Michigan environment.

I don't think they necessarily made a bad decision as much as didn't have any options. Swarming isn't a good idea in the fall in northern environments, and usually swarms can get further away than this. I think it may have to do with the fact that the mother colony of this feral hive could have come from a hive who isn't locally adapted.
 
Kevin Derheimer
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I'm in south west florida and have seen this behavior several times. In the first pic below, bees decided to do this in a tree at my inlaws, I used my bee-vac to get the bees and put them into a langstroth hive on my property. I got 7 gallons of honey after a little over a year later. Just finished extracting this year and got 4 more gallons. They are very efficient, but the nastiest bees I have ever worked, must have a little bit of African in them. I would requeen, but I get so much honey that I'm willing to deal with them. When I learned bee keeping, ages ago, I went into the apiary in shorts, t-shirt, and no gloves, we wore veils so we wouldn't inhale bees and shoes, so you didn't get stung when you stepped on the stray bee. These bees are mean!!! It feels like someone is throwing small stones at you when they hit. My next door neighbor has a massive hive under an arch, completely exposed to rain and wind! they have been there almost a year, He asked me to help replace a light fixture over them because the electricians would not go near the bees. He didn't want to kill the bees because of hearing about CCD, so just left them. I offered to help him put them into a hive, they borrowed a catalog of beekeeping supplies and may have me help them put the bees into a hive this spring.

Second pic is full 5 gallon pail full of honey, OMG moment scrambling to find another clean bucket.
Third pic is hive next door, 10' from front door.
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I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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