Right under my nose.

Last Friday we got some rain finally.  Not much, but we will take anything we can get at this point.  I was pretty sure it would cause at least a limited amount of swarming activity.  Well, I was right, but things didn’t work out quite like I had hoped.

There is the trap at the base of the tree. I am squatting on a pile of agricultural lime about 10-12 feet off the ground.

I was weeding around our back garden on Tuesday.  There is a trap nearby.  Upon approaching the trap I heard a familiar buzzing.  It sounded like the tone that a new swarm makes upon settling in on a new home.  I thought I was in luck.  I wasn’t, but swarming had occurred. 

After hearing the tell-tale buzzing I inspected the trap…. No traffic.  There was no doubt that there were bees very close nearby.  I began looking around thinking I might find them, still clumped up hanging from a branch in the large maple.  This tree is a “Wolf Tree” and has been a good producer of swarms.  Wolf trees always seem to produce well when a trap is hung in them.  Many older people from my area have often commented that they used to commonly find bees in such trees around here.  Turns out this tree that produced 3 “catches” last year appears to have taken one for itself.

I am still standing on the lime pile. Can you see em?

I finally found them in a hollow of the tree. Perhaps they preferred a higher location than the one I had offered.  I don’t know, but certainly they are newly arrived.  Many beekeepers next move would be an attempt at removal. This thing is up at least 25 feet in the tree.  I think I will LetMBee and enjoy observing them in their new home.  I will keep you posted on their progress as time passes.  The cavity they chose appears to be quite small, but it is very hard to tell from the ground.

Closeup of the hive entrance.

I will look at it as another site for mother nature to work her magic with a colony of bees.  Who knows if they survive, next years progeny may occupy a nearby trap.  I don’t feel as though I need to catch every swarm or obtain every colony that I see making its way in the world.  I look at every bee tree in my area as an extra hive.  I don’t get any honey out of the deal, but the genetic diversity that can be obtained is worth more to me than honey.

If this colony is able to succeed it will be the second tree I am aware of within two miles of the house.  Did it come from one of the three managed hives nearby?  I don’t think so, but who knows.  If one of the hives swarmed and I have given it back I am good with the transaction.  A bee tree is a thing of beauty that many, even those who keep bees have yet to see.  Now I have one in my back yard.

What would you do?  Am I am making a mistake here?  I know this audience consists of beekeepers so there must to be at least one differing opinion.  Leave a comment.

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12 Responses to Right under my nose.

  1. Jarret Holman says:

    LetMBee My bee tree is doing awsome you are right about not getting any honey but I will be satisfied with the genetics I get out of the bee tree hive. I think every beekeeper should have at least one bee tree to let them know that nature can take care of itself, and we don’t need to be adding our chemicals and syrups in the mix to have a good hive of bees.

  2. Anita says:

    I’m glad you LetMBee. I know of one bee tree in my area. Every year it produces many swarms that local beekeepers are called in to catch. This year I think the tally is 7 from that one tree alone. I hope yours does as well!

    I’m hoping one of the swarms I caught near there is from that tree. The bees seem larger than my other hives and it has a huge Italian Queen. They took up two boxes when hived and are doing great so far.

    • Jason says:

      That is strange that the bees would seem larger. Do you mean the colony or each individual bee? I always read that bees from the “wilds” will over time revert back to a smaller cell size. I am getting to the point where I spend more time questioning what I read, than actually reading. 🙂

      The more I look, the more bee trees I am finding. Don’t know if it is because bees are doing better or because I am looking. At least here they are around.

      • Anita says:

        Maybe it’s been the excessive heat on my roof during my inspections lately, but the whole colony, workers, queen and drones seem a tad larger and longer. Weird – eh.

        I have read about the small cell theory too but have also read claims debunking it – so who knows.

        • Jason says:

          I have read both sides of the cell debate as well and don’t know what to think. The way I look at it, the LetMBee theory works. If they build their own comb, the cells are the size that the workers wanted them to be.

          I have seen some drones this year that probably need to be register with the FAA! Hey man check out that drone, THAT THANG’S HUGE!!! I have noticed that the bees that visit my watering stations oftentimes look very large compared to some of the other workers. It’s wierd. I have no explanation for that either.

  3. Sam says:

    Mistake? This is awesome, I would never remove bees from a tree like this unless they were aggressive to whoever was living on the property, but that high up your set, after filling my little apiary from six hives to 15 I am no longer desperate for bees lol, fortunately non of my other hives seem inclined to swarm, and the ones that did are happily moving on. I’m sure there is truth to what warre says about giving them space to prevent swarming, but it wont work 100% of the time, probably just reduces the impulse.

    • Jason says:

      I have learned that nothing works 100% of the time in beekeeping. Yesterday I checked in on that hive I added the brood and eggs to just to make sure that the new eggs and larvae were in-fact workers and not drones.

      The new brood was worker, which means there was in-fact a laying queen in there at one time, but something is up. There was a capped queen cell in there as well. I quit poking around in there once I saw it. Don’t know if they lost their queen again or if they are looking to swarm. They only have one deep hive body filled so I am scratching my head on this one.

  4. Mil says:

    Bees in a tree on your property where they can live freely? Awesome! I would love to hear about any observations you have about them. I wish I had such a bee tree close by.

    • Jason says:

      Get ready, because I have an update in todays post. 🙂

      I would imagine sooner or later you will bump into one. I have been surprised by the feral colonies I have found in the last two years. Don’t know if I have pictures of all of them, but I know I have found at least ten.

      I have only attempted removal of four such hives. Only because it was remove em’ or the land owner was going to take matters into their own hands and spray em. The potential from obtaining genetics from hives I KNOW no one is feeding or treating is a good thing.

  5. Mil says:

    It’s funny, we’ll be hiking, we’ll hear buzzing, and we then we stop and look around and usually spot a bee tree. We saw 3 trees in Hawaii, there’s one by a spring we collect water at, and saw one on a hike in Marin. We are very attuned to the sound of bee hives. It would be nice to find one close by, though!

    • Jason says:

      I was putting up a new trap this spring. The host was out talking with me. I no sooner got the trap up and I heard that familiar tone. I said, “here comes one now”, and this bee landed right in the opening of the trap. I never used to be that observant of them. It is also neat that after a while you can hear a noise and say, “here comes a drone”. Mason bees have their own particular tone. I am developing an ear for them too.

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