Swarm Season is approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, I can see that interest in the subject is growing from my Stats. In the coming weeks I will be talking about some podcasts I have been on about Bees. They will be posted in chronological order. If you have some time and want to hear about trapping and treatment-free beekeeping give them a listen.
In this podcast from 2013 I had been trapping for only a couple years. I can hear the lack of confidence in some of my responses, but others surprised me with how inspired I had already become with trapping and observing the resulting colonies grow and become productive. Several times, Jack questioned as to why I was doing different things. This was was particularly true when asking about placing traps near known bee trees. The reason I was doing it was because I didn’t know what would happen. The experiments I was working on at that time led me to the methods I am currently using.
Some of the practices I was using then have changed. Other more productive practices have been picked up through observation. Of specific note in this podcast: I currently recommend you literally place swarm traps, anywhere you can. You never know what’s going to happen. I have been capturing hardy stock at established yards repeatedly now for a couple years. At the time of this recording I had never observed this behavior. If you have a hive-stand and it’s not full of active colonies there should be a baited hive body setting there. If you find productive lines of bees that overwinter well and swarm back to the hive stand it is a great way to increase your number of colonies.
Jack tripped me up a little while discussing trapping in locations with Africanized honeybees. I still have no direct experience with AHB, but feel confident that honeybees can be safely captured where both are living. After trap occupation they should be evaluated for aggression. A larger trap volume is theorized to be preferred by European Honeybees. If you live in a location known to have AHB use traps of at least 31 LITERS and make sure they are bee tight. Standard Langstroth deeps are slightly larger than 40 liters and are a great resource as a starting material for swarm traps.
I have communicated with hundreds of people trapping bees in AHB areas over the years since this was recorded. I have received no reports of individuals catching bees in traps that were too aggressive to work. The bees are reported as “hotter” than those typically purchased as packages, but they DON’T DIE. Bees living a feral existence are not bred for docility. I will take bees that require a veil, gloves and smoke to dead bees, so I feel I can tolerate “some” expression of guard behavior.
If captured bees display an unacceptable level of aggression a couple avenues are available. Perhaps another beekeeper in your area would be willing to take them. If they have secluded bee yards perhaps they could be left alone to be productive. If they are too aggressive for you or give away they should be SELECTED AGAINST and destroyed. Luckily I’ve never felt the need to do this. I would recommend it be done in the trap using a method that did not use chemicals. When evaluating CATCHES, observe the level of aggression. If they do not meet your criteria they can at least be shut into the trap and disposed of. Then get to catching more bees.
Jack’s show, The Survival Podcast is a daily mix of practical knowledge about steps that can be taken to create a stable fulfilling life in today’s world. Many of these seemingly different topics have aided at different times in my beekeepin experience. Jack introduced me to the design science of Permaculture, which led me to Swarm Trapping. Visualizing a dead colony of bees as a resource instead of as a direct loss, and turning a “waste product” into more bees came from reading about Permaculture. I highly recommend the show and think listening to it will make you a better beekeeper. If you listen you will find that it will help your life in general.
Being self sufficient is at the heart of beekeeping, both for bees and beekeepers. Sourcing through trapping allows for you to obtain local bees by building a simple device. Many swarms can be captured in a single trap over many years with minimal maintenance. Breaking the bond between a colony of bees and a PRICE-TAG makes beekeeping much more fun and easy to justify as a use of your time. Trapping makes you more resilient. You can take the PUNCH of losing colonies and not be OUT of beekeeping. Take the opportunity listen to 1217 and other episodes of the The Survival Podcast.
Here is a link to the original posting about this episode from 9/30/2013.
Are you getting exciting as Spring approaches?
Are you ready?!?