Holes – in perfectly good woodenware

Example of bees using 1 inch holes.

bees using 1 inch holes.

I have had many questions about the 1 inch holes pictured in my deep hive bodies. When I began keeping bees I bought a bunch of used equipment from a keeper who was retiring. He had holes in some of his equipment, but I didn’t pay much attention. I was picking the boxes that had the most life left in them regardless of the holes.

Over the years the number of hives increased. For years I did NOT drill holes in newly constructed boxes. I was not convinced that they provided enough of a benefit to put a hole in a BRAND NEW box. My goal with hive equipment is make it last as long as possible. That’s why I don’t use things like staples and tacks. Things last longer when the integrity of the paint (and wood) is not disturbed. Continue reading

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Predictions, and what happens

Early this year I attempted a prediction on a colony overwintering. see Animal Husbandry – Understanding Vigor 2016-02-05. In the post I was comparing 1512 and 1514. I stand by the observations, 1512 had less vigor than 1514. HOWEVER, even with less vigor they passed primary selection and survived. This is why I currently DO NOT make primary selections for my Apiary. Until I have more bees than I know what to do with, I must allow Eastern-Indiana to make these selections. Above all, unfed treatment-free survival is the selection criteria.

In the Trap

Trap moving night – 2015-07-22

1512 was from Trap01 which came from a location I didn’t trap this year. Historically every swarm I have ever gotten there (EXCEPT 1512) has failed to overwinter. 1514 came from one of my very best trapping locations with productive bees that consistently overwinter. It’s a full 90 minutes one-way from the house, but I put 2 Traps there every year and happily make the trip every time I am lucky enough to get a HIT!

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Non-Targeted Species – ants in Trap01

Screenshot_2016-07-21-07-16-36_wmOver the years I have had several e-mails about a number of non-targeted species taking up residence in swarm traps. I have been really lucky, as I don’t generally have problems with this. That being said, I had something happen this year that has NEVER happened before. I started a new bee yard at a good friend’s an hour North of home. Traps were placed on a hive stand to prospect the area for existing bees. Several yards have been started this way in 2016, as I mentioned in last week’s post, 2016 Trapping Update.

Going forward I need to be more careful about moving traps around. Before being transported traps must be checked for occupation. In this case, I was moving bees after dark as per normal.  When Trap01 was picked up I glanced at it, and shut the door, but had no idea thousands of stow-aways were aboard! The following day when I walked passed the truck ants were all over the bed. They were coming out of the hole through the disc closure. I believe they are ants from the genus Formica and I’m very glad I wasn’t using the car that night! Continue reading

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2016 Trapping Update

#30

#30 for 2016!

It’s time to give a little progress report for summer 2016. This year has been the most successful trapping summer YET. The first swarm was caught almost A FULL MONTH earlier than normal on 4/20/2016. HITS occurred steadily 3-5 per week through April and May. After being stuck on 29 for two weeks I finally picked up Trapped Swarm #30 Saturday 7/2/2016. Thirty swarms before the 4th of July is a new benchmark that I will probably aim for in the future.

Each year spent trapping is educational. You learn much more about bees than if you just order a packages through the mail. What have I learned this year? Continue reading

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Because of honeybees

snapping turtle

snapping turtle

Trapping bees has given me an opportunity to witness some interesting things over the years. It’s easy to get preoccupied with the beekeeping and forget to mention some of the other things I have seen just because I was OUTSIDE MORE due to beekeeping. I have seen more foxes, owls, deer, possums, frogs, crayfish, turtles and many other animal species I don’t normally see. Swarm trap recovery is normally done after dark. In the past dark was a time to come IN. Being outside at night opens your mind to the fact that LIFE is happening out there ALL THE TIME!
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Letting things happen

20160503_202101_wm I normally don’t post on Saturday’s, but I figured I’d switch it up this week since I had a post every other day. I won’t be talking Swarm Trapping today. What I want to go over has more to do with beekeeping philosophy. I’m going to keep this short cause this is normally when people’s eyes glaze over and I lose em!
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Getting it done

Loading Traps - 4/19

Loading Traps – 4/19

If you want to be successful in beekeeping you’re going to have to put some work in. Reading or looking around on the Internet is only scratching the surface. The real work starts once you have bees and are dealing with them AND the rest of your busy life on their terms.  Things really get out of control once you start having some success and hive number begin to grow. WHAT A PROBLEM TO HAVE!  Not everyone needs to approach beekeeping in the same fashion.  If you want to have a hive or two that will lead to SOME work, and when it’s time, THE WORK MUST BE DONE whether you have 2 hives or 25.  The schedule can not always set by the beekeeper.  This is an agricultural pursuit.  Mother Nature makes your schedule now.  Bee prepared. Continue reading

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1602, 1603, and 1604

1602, 1603, & 1604

1602, 1603, & 1604

Last Sunday, 5/1/2016 was the first hiving of trapped swarms for the season. I hadn’t planned on doing it, but the weather conditions turned out perfect and I had opportunity. The transfers went as follows Trap02 to 1602, Trap30 to 1603, and Trap10 to 1604. Keep track of where you catch swarms and what happens to the resulting colonies. Over time patterns will emerge. It seems like the same locations produce overwintering bees consistently for me. Focus on catching bees that are productive.  Don’t waste time catching and hiving bees that consistently fail to overwinter.  All three of these were caught in proven trapping grounds with high(er) likelihood of overwintering. Continue reading

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Trapping on the Ground


Last weekend I discussed Swarm Trapping on the Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast.  Solomon and I brushed the surface, but hopefully it will get more people interested in giving this a try.  There’s getting to be more and more information available on feral honey bees.  Average height of feral colonies numbers have been suggested, but that doesn’t mean bees won’t hit a trap on the ground.  Yesterday I wrote about Catch Boxes that can easily be made from beekeeping equipment. You could either use a Catch Box for this OR just use old equipment.

The following gallery is  all of bees I have either caught or discoveted living close to the ground.
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Catch Boxes

2015-06-14 11.59.23 1509

Ground capture.

One of my typical 80 year old friends introduced me to catch boxes on a swarm call in 2015.  For years I had strapped hive bodies to bottom-boards for swarm retrievals.  It was always a pain.  New equipment was slick, things wouldn’t stay lined up, the bottom boards moved sometimes…  That’s a thing of the past.  Swarms stay in them better, and that’s only the start of the benefits of Catch Boxes. Continue reading

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