Friday, July 2, 2010

Buckwheat Vine in Bloom

The transfer of honey bees continues, as I attempt to move two colonies from the walls of a house into a pair of Langstroth bee hives. I prefer to make a transfer of feral bees from the walls of a house or from a hollow tree in the spring of the year. A bee hive containing a queen-right colony with a small population of bees is used to receive the feral bees. A good candidate for making a transfer into a modern bee hive will be a cavity with an entrance located close to the ground, so that a hive can be placed only inches from the feral colony. All entrances to the building or tree holding the feral colony must be closed with the exception on one. When blocking the extra entrances, it helps to use opaque materials to block the light. The beekeeper next builds a funnel out of screen wire to allow the feral bees to exit their cavity but prevent them from returning to their own nest. Use duct tape to darken the funnel which is pointed directly at the entrance to the Langstroth hive.

Once the funnel is in place, the transfer of begins quickly. All foraging bees are forced to find an alternate entrance when they return to the hive. Their numbers overwhelm the guard bees of a small colony, and guards don’t refuse entrance of bees carrying nectar or pollen. Pollen foragers, easily recognized by pollen baskets on their hind legs loaded with colorful pollen, reveal success of the colony transfer. As pollen supplies dwindle in the old location, more pollen foragers are recruited. The transfer site should be visited daily, as the bees will seek places to reenter the old nest. Feral bee cavities frequently hold small hive beetles, so passive traps should be placed in the Langstroth hive. The transfer will take from six to 12 weeks to accomplish. Today’s photo: buckwheat vine, a prolific nectar source in early summer.

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