Monday, July 23, 2012

Bee Transfer Continues

The transfer of feral bees from the tree to the modern Langstroth hive continues. Here is the plan for moving honey bees from a hollow tree to a modern bee hive: As bees leave the tree, they are unable to return to their nest, but they find an acceptable nest inches away in a modern bee hive holding a queen-right bee colony. When the transition started, the feral bees left their nest in the hollow catalpa tree as usual to forage. When the foragers returned, they found their entrance hole blocked by the one-way screen funnel. Desperate to get back to their nest, the foragers probed the area around the entrance hole until they found an alternative entrance around some broken tree bark. As long as bees can return to their feral nest in the hollow tree, the transfer is ineffective. Once I blocked the bees’ new entrance around the broken bark with window screen, duct tape, and roofing shingles, the transfer to the new hive progressed effectively. Beekeepers should return to the transfer site daily to observe the condition of the screen funnel and the bees’ activity. At night, skunks or raccoons may damage the funnel. During daylight hours, the beekeeper should see bees exiting the tree through the funnel. Darkening the funnel with duct tape encourages the bees to walk to the end of the funnel. A lack of bees may mean that the funnel is blocked with dead bees.

Every feral transfer attempt progresses differently, and at times corrective action is required to complete the bee transfer. After a week in place, I checked the Langstroth hive and found a large population of bees, plenty of capped brood, but no eggs or open brood. It appears that the bees killed the marked queen. This required me to bring in another colony of bees in a Langstroth hive body and combine the hives using a newspaper separator. After another week it appears the bees accepted this second queen.

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