Robbing 3 –> Obtain ferals and LetMBee

If you’re reading this and you haven’t read Robbing can teach us about honeybees or Robbing – 2: What do you do? you might want to start there.  Just to summarize, last time I came home from work to a robbing episode.  Two colonies were being selectively targeted for robbing while one feral colony was left alone.

Robbing Observations

2010-07-07-0113-1003-1005-1004

7/7/2010 – 1003

The robbers looked different than my packages from Kelley’s Beekeeping Co. in 2010. They were closer in coloration and size to 1005, the feral colony from the barrel cutout. I’ve read that robbing bees are usually older foragers and can appear darker because of hair loss.  The difference was greater than some missing hair.  They were phenotypically different.  They were darker in color, and noticeably smaller in size. Where where they coming from?  I sat down on the ground and observed the horizon. Soon I could see the course of incoming and outgoing bees and had a bearing on the source of activity. All traffic pointed toward one corner of a woods about 1/2 mile South-East of the home apiary. After reducing entrances, I went to the woods and found the colony by sound. They were in a tree BUZZING with excitement and definitely NOT getting robbed.  It was like a raucous party celebrating the plunder of their competitors.

I believe this is playing out every Fall among the feral population. This is why the feral population somehow overcame varroa.  Better adapted colonies, out-compete those lesser suited to the niche.  It keeps the Feral Reserve lean, finding the solutions to adaptation in the environment. That’s why it’s a great source for your bees!   The Feral Reserve is hanging with the challenges of today. Those are the lines YOU want for tomorrows struggles. When less adapted colonies are “snuffed out”, cavities are vacant for the following Spring’s swarms.  The robbed resources are insurance for better adapted colonies to overwinter.   Continue reading

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Robbing – 2: What do you do?

What’s to be done about robbing?

1003 1005 1004

1003 1005 1004

“How do I stop my bees from getting robbed?”  It’s the question I get, after an account of the some brutal insect behavior. In the spirit of PermaCulture the answer this question is a “slow solution”. This will NOT be a band-aid on a robbing to get you through, what you need is a solution.  The best way to prevent robbing is to NOT have weak colonies prone to robbing pressure.  Why is your colony weak?  Where are the robbers coming from?  Do people keep bees nearby?  If you locate the robber’s hideout you learn where a stronger is living.  That’s what happened to in my case.   Continue reading

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Community Gardens and Honey Bees… a Match Made in Heaven (or on Earth)

community garden beekeeping

photo from communitygarden.org

If you run or manage an urban garden, then you might be wondering what you can do so that you can enjoy the best possible results. Although some people feel as though caring for a community garden is a difficult and challenging process, it does not need to be. Following the correct steps can help anyone grow and maintain a garden of which they can be proud, but avoiding shortcuts is also important to your success.

When you want to take your vegetable garden to the next level, take a look at how honeybees can help you reach your goal. Bringing bees into your community creates a mutually beneficial relationship, and if you are still not convinced that having them around is a good choice, the following information will likely change your mind.

Pollination

Pollination is essential for anyone who wants to grow a healthy garden, and honeybees play a major role in the process. Although gardens can survive without the help of bees, they won’t produce as much food in their absence. If you are like many people, then you are curious about the role that bees play in the survival of your community garden.

When a bee lands on a flower to collect nectar, some of the pollen sticks to the bee’s feet. The honeybees then transport the pollen onto other flowers as they continue to gather the nectar that they will use to make honey. That process allows plants to reproduce with enhanced efficiency, and you will enjoy a larger garden as a result. Continue reading

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Robbing can teach us about honeybees 1

Part 1:  Robbing is a Problem.

1517 - January 2016

1517 – January 2016

First thing’s first. Robbing sucks, but, IT’S NOT A REASON TO FREAK OUT! Take a deep breath…. Count to TEN. I remember when I began beekeeping. I read of all these alien things that could happen in my bee yard. My paranoia only increased after I went to bee meetings and heard the horrific stories told by seasoned keepers. It’s terrible when it happens and once it begins it is very hard to stop. Beekeepers can start robbing by their things they do. If you notice this after certain specific tasks look into changing procedures. In the event you didn’t do anything to cause a robbing event, many methods used to abort them point to reasons it may be happening in the first place. Continue reading

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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!

Continue reading

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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!
Continue reading

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