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Questions for cold-climate beekeepers

Posted by milehighgirl CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 11, 12 at 22:43

I am posting this here because the bee section on GardenWeb is really dead and I do think there are several experienced beekeepers here.

I am in the process of a trap-out from a dying tree. I have put a hive box with foundation and some formed comb next to the hive in the tree. The trap and hive have been in place for 3 days now and the bees are coming and going from the box hive at a pretty good rate. I am planning on waiting two weeks to take down the box hive. I have found a source for a frame of brood and am planning on buying a queen from R. Weaver Apiaries (I wanted one from Zia but they don't respond to my emails or phone calls).

My first question is where to place the hive once I bring it home. We have on a rare occasion gotten 36" if snow. Should I place the hive high enough that they will have air circulation in this depth of snow? Will cinder blocks be okay?

Second: Is my timing on the trap-out okay; with waiting two weeks, then moving them, then adding the queen with a frame of brood? I have put swarm lure in and left a bottle of lemon grass oil in the hive to hopefully calm them.

After this I plan to put another hive in the tree and wait another two weeks then take those bees. Then I plan to cut the branch with the hive down while it is supported by ropes to keep it from hitting too hard. I hope to be able to find the original queen and move the comb and brood with the second hive.

I've been reading and studying for more than 3 years off and on. Now that I have a hive on the property that I inherited I want to save them for myself, as the tree must come down. I have purchased all the necessary paraphernalia.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Questions for cold-climate beekeepers

Even for the most experienced bee keeper a trap out can bee very tricky, a little more studding is needed.

The way you want to approach it, it's not a trap out.
Trap out means, funneling bees into a new home, [box] bees can get out of the tree hive but not going back. You need to put the box close to one entrance, seal off all others. As bees leave the original hive and can't go back, [tapered funnel]. You basically trick them to stay outside by a frame or two of brood, they love to tend to the new brood and hopefully stay, making a new queen with the new brood and eggs not more then 3 day's old. You don't need to buy a queen, virgin queen gets mated with the drone bees and you still end up with the bee strain/trait's from the original hive.

If you cut the tree down and get brood out and all, it's called a cut out. Most often queen gets killed by this, not advisable if you ask me.

Weekly checks on the frames is needed to see progress.
After several weeks when no more bees are coming from the old hive, then you can remove the funnel, this should be done towards end of nectar flow, then bees will go back and rob the honey out of the old hive,..this can take two weeks or so.

I think what's happening now is,..bees are just exploring the hive bait but nothing really much is happening in there.
Is swarm season still on in your area? It's coming to a end here.

If it was still on, then a swarm lure might be better to have around, [not too close].

Another way,...if you could cut the tree, just above the hive cavity, then put the box on top with a hole in bottom, bees can go up and use the new hive as new entrance and exit, providing you seal off everything below. The idea here is to have the queen move up as the hive, [population] expands. Right now it would be a bit late, they're at their max right now.

A bottle of lemon grass oil is not needed, only a drop or two.

The hive can be buried in the snow, they still get enough air.

Good luck!


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RE: Questions for cold-climate beekeepers

Konrad, Thank you for your response. I don't understand what you mean, "Right now it would be a bit late, they're at their max right now."

I have had a hard time finding anyone to help me. The tree men don't want to work with a hive in the tree, and the bee men don't want to work so high up the tree. I just decided it had to get done and either the bees die or I figure it out myself.

I conquered my fear of heights and climbed up at least 20 feet on a ladder, and I conquered my fear of being stung; got one in the ear through the suit, but it was nothing.

So, would you suggest I just get a frame of brood so they make their own queen? I figure if I do a trap-out first, then a cut-out, I will have the best chances of saving everyone.

I could also try to rig up a system where the box is above the knot in the tree that serves as the entrance. The tree branch is at an angle. How long would it take the queen to work up into the box?

Great idea that I had never thought of!


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RE: Questions for cold-climate beekeepers

you have probably run into the 2 bee forums beemaster and beesource. If you search around in them you should find a wealth of info on trapouts and cutouts.

I am still quite new, but I believe Konrad is right, you need the brood in the trap out box to hold the bees that you funnel out. And if you don't get enough bees out quickly you may lose the brood to chilling.

the queen is pretty unlikely to leave the hive to enter this box even if you put it right up next to the entrance. The only time I have read of that working is when you can make the box a part of the existing cavity...like cutting off the top of a hollow and placing box on top. Then they are more likely to build comb that the queen might move up into and lay....depending how space restricted they are inside there.

good luck with it, whatever you do should be soonish (depending how large this feral hive is) as the bees will need time to re-estabish themselves and build up for winter...


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RE: Questions for cold-climate beekeepers

Thanks for the advice. I will arrange to get the frame of brood in now and then the queen for the box hive in about a week.


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RE: Questions for cold-climate beekeepers

Sounds like you have done some research and this may be old info for you but...

I think you need to do more than have box and brood near the hive. There is usually a funnel (point out)with a bee sized tip placed over the existing hive's entrance so that once they leave the bees have a hard time finding their way back in. Instead they find your box with brood which is right next to their old entrance...I think just a foot away but have never read up on it extensively. If the brood comb has eggs or very young larva they will most likely start queen cells within a few days which you will need to destroy before introducing a mated queen.

Then you need to move the whole thing a good distance (2-3miles) away (at least temporarily) or they will just drift back to the old location.


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RE: Questions for cold-climate beekeepers

windfall_rob,

Yes, I do have a funnel made of metal window screen up. It is about 18" long and it directs the bees toward the box hive.

So it would be fastest to get older larva, if I can, and then introduce a queen, that way they will not be able to make a queen and the new, mated queen will start laying soon after being introduced.

I just am a little confused about the role of the newly "born" bees. It is their job to be nurse bees first, is that correct? So the bees that are exiting the tree hive now are foragers. Will these foragers step back to being nurse bees for the brood I put in the box hive?

How long can the tree hive survive without foragers bringing in fresh supplies?

Also, what is a good, inexpensive hive stand? Will cinder blocks work okay? How high should the hive be placed from the ground?

I had a beekeeper look at the hive and his determination is that it is a very strong hive and probably has a good, hardy queen. I would really like to save her if at all possible. At the very least I would like some of her larva to use to make a new queen. Her larva will have her genes 100%, correct?

I have so much to learn still.


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RE: Questions for cold-climate beekeepers

you should definitely get yourself a good basic book. A mentor would be nice too but you (and I) can certainly use a book and some internet forums to learn. The bees are complicated and fascinating creatures,

In short:
yes, the field bees will revert and nurse larva.

younger larva/eggs will hold them better than older, which will be capped in a few days. crushing out Q- cells is really no big deal at all.

I don't know if a laying-queen is ever used in a trap out. But I don't know much.

the existing hive will take a loss. that loss depends on their size now how much brood they have emerging to allow older bees to avoidance to foragers, stores...ect. If it is healthy, a hive can lose it's "field force" and do OK in mid summer. Beekeepers sometimes use/cause this by switching hive locations in beeyard to strengthen weak hives. If you continually trap out the foragers, the hive will have to collapse at some point.

Worker(female) brood from the existing queen will be 50%her 50%one of the 5-20 drones she mated with. Drone(male) will be all her (unfertilized eggs).

Cindereblocks are fine. My hives sit on 2 block, each with short wood bar shimmed level. Keep it pretty low, if a hive does well the boxes stack up fast.

lots of reading in your future


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RE: Questions for cold-climate beekeepers

>>I don't understand what you mean, "Right now it would be a bit late, they're at their max right now." <<

If,..when placing the box on top the cut tree,
at around this time of the season a colony is at their peak, [max] this might make it a bit slower for bees to move up and expand, perhaps not at all, bees might only use the box as a passage.

Sure, when placing some brood in there some will stay there to feed them. At around two to three weeks when they hatch it will be back to square one unless you trap them out.

>>has a good, hardy queen. I would really like to save her if at all possible. At the very least I would like some of her larva to use to make a new queen. Her larva will have her genes 100%, correct? <<

Bees can't make a queen from larva, eggs only not more then 3 day's old..as I was saying above, then the chance is there that they can make a new queen and hopefully the virgin queen be mated with some of the drones from this hive,..if other bee hives are around then she get mated with others too, up to 7 or so drone/male bees.

>>I figure if I do a trap-out first, then a cut-out, I will have the best chances of saving everyone. <<

A trap out means that all bees in the tree are out, then no cut out needed.
A cut out is a mess, lots of larva and bees get killed.

Again,.. the best chance to get this queen is to cut tree just above, have box on top with a good size hole in bottom board.
Bees like to go up, one's bees get active in that box queen should follow.

Not sure if a section of that tree can be cut and lowered to the ground, this way work can be done easier.


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