All but 6 traps have been baited and staged, out of the way. You might be wondering, “why so early?” Bees won’t be swarming yet in Indiana. To that I’d say, you are right, but there are TWO good reasons to get traps baited and staged a little early. Much of what you read today recommends beekeepers be reactionary as if the sky was always falling. Beekeeping is more fun when you formulate a logical plan and see it through to a successful end. Understanding biology and having a logical plan is a strategy that is working for me and I think it will help you as well. So here’s what’s going on, and how it contributes to the PLAN.
The first reason and main motivation for baiting now is because, THERE ARE MANY TRAPS and it’s going to take several weeks to take them from storage to deployment. When baiting/loading traps (See – Load a Swarm Trap) the easiest method is to set up an assembly line and get into a rhythm. This type of repetitive task makes it easy to forget to put in a lure or to apply 100% silicone to screw heads. Opening all the traps and completing each step once on all of them increases efficiency. I am budgeting at least two to three weeks to get them all out on my normal trips to and from work. You can check in on my progress on the LetMBee.com Facebook Page. Deployment will start in my proven SPOTS first, then prospecting for new locations will begin.
The second reason for staging early is to help understand the swarming progress of honeybees living nearby. I am aware of at least 2 other beekeepers that live within 3 miles of this staging area. There are also feral colonies living close, in the small patches of woods around my place as well as one in a house about a mile away. Staged traps are a very important to interpreting what bees are doing in your area. By observing traps in the staging area I gain feedback of scouting activity intensity throughout the summer. Scouting levels fluctuate as a result of nectar flows and weather conditions. As conditions become more favorable for swarming it will increase, then subside.
Staging area tips:
The concentration of all of the traps together baited with old comb and Lemon Grass Oil is a draw on scouts for miles around. Even if they don’t hit the traps, the interest generated is indicative of potential swarming activity where you live. After deploying most of your traps, keep a few in reserve in staging. These empties are used to replace those that are occupied by swarms through the season. When the colonies are transferred from the trap to their new hive the trap is re-baited and placed in the staging area. The best staging locations are in the shade. On the NORTH side of buildings (in the northern hemisphere), or between two buildings have shown the best results here. Traps in mid-day shade catch more swarms. Staging next to light colored buildings makes activity easier to see from a distance. Holly can keep an eye on things from the kitchen window.
The Ground Traps above are in the shade on the North side of a building. Below is a video from 2016 in the same SPOT where the hanging traps are staged this year.
Staging area: feedback
Honeybees begin showing interest in baited traps days to weeks before swarming begins. When scouting is observed it’s important to get your traps deployed quickly. All ferals in the area will be at similar stages of progression. For now there has been NO scouting interest here, but that will change and when it does I will be aware. By monitoring the traps in staging, on a daily basis, greater understanding is gained. This is a form of feedback that most beekeepers are not utilizing. It’s not only good for trapping, but as a way of bench-marking your kept colonies. When scouting interest is high, your colonies should be showing great activity and curing honey at night. Now that staging is done I can focus on getting production colonies supered. The weather has not been cooperating with me. More on that soon.
Good luck this year. Hopefully you have your traps and a good plan ready for 2017! Let the good times ROLL!
How many traps are you going to deploy?
Have you seen scouting activity yet?